December 2002 Columns: Extras - Tom Heston

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THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON ALUMNI MAGAZINE

Extras
Tom Heston
When family physician Tom Heston, '86, suggested that a patient suffering from lymphoma listen to soothing music during the long drive from his rural Idaho home to Coeur d'Alene for treatment, the patient thought Heston was crazy.
Tom Heston. Photo courtesy Tom Heston

It wasn't long, however, until the patient was singing the doctor's praises. The music defused his anxiety and put him in the right frame of mind to undergo grueling chemotherapy sessions-even surgery. Music has always played a prominent role in Heston's family medicine practice in Kellogg, Idaho. Before getting his medical degree at St. Louis University, he earned a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Washington in 1986. "Music to me has always been a way to uplift and strengthen a person's spirit," says Heston, 39. "When a friend of mine had a serious accident, I realized that I also wanted to help him physically, with the end goal being uplifting and strengthening his spirit." While music is an unorthodox preparatory degree to earn before medical school, it has served Heston well. "My music education at the UW has helped me deal personally with the emotional and spiritual challenges I face in my rural family medicine practice," he explains. As a physician in a rural area of a sparsely populated state-the mining town of 2,395 has no medical library, for example-the challenges have been many. Heston has had to rely on the Internet as a research resource, and has begun recording all of his research on his own Web site medjournal.com to share with physicians in similar circumstances. It's been a big hit-doctors from as far away as Romania and Bangladesh have e-mailed him. He also serves as an editor for the family practice section for another medical Web site priory.com. Two years ago, Heston published the book Chants for Health (www.chantsforhealth.com). It, too, was inspired by his education at

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December 2002 Columns: Extras - Tom Heston

http://web.archive.org/web/20030306232516/http://www.washington.edu...

the UW School of Music and his medical training. "Medicine is an extension of my musical roots," he says. "I have learned how to help people physically, by becoming a physician, for the primary purpose of eventually strengthening their spirit. "People often focus on their body and the need to extend life," says Heston. "The other option is to live your life to the fullest while you're here." -Sarah Kahne Return to December 2002 Columns

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