Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

Nicholas Shannon Kulmac can be reached at

A lesson learned

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on this year’s recipient of the Kyle W. Corwin Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Stan Freidberg graciously accepted the prestigious award yesterday afternoon during the Vancouver Business Journal’s Accomplished & Under 40 award ceremony. In his 37-year practice at The Vancouver Clinic, the cardiologist saved countless lives by helping patients with their heart health. In retirement, Stan has been a regular at the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington and at Project Access Clark County.

If you weren’t one of the 230 or so in the audience, you missed an acceptance speech full of humility. In fact, the Dr. talked more about those who have helped him along the way than his own accomplishments. Stan spoke of individuals in the community that served him as mentors and sources of inspiration. And the remarkable part – one that I believe we should all take note of – is that the individuals the doctor spoke of were not solely from his youth. Some, he explained, had not come into his life until recently.

Even in retirement, this accomplished, wise and experienced medical pioneer seeks the advice and expertise of others. Does it matter that he’s already considered an expert in his field? No. Does it matter that he has greatly surpassed the vast majority of his colleagues in experience? Not at all.

Given his stature, no one would question Dr. Freidberg if he simply stopped listening to the council of others and relied on his personal pool of knowledge alone. But Stan is clearly not that way. He has no plateau. His cup is never full.

Dr. Freidberg should be an example to us all for a number of reasons. His career accomplishments are vast and his commitment to giving back to the community is commendable. But what should not go overlooked is his never-ending willingness to listen, learn and to be taught by people from all walks of life, young and old.

I believe Henry David Thoreau summed it up right when he said, “To know that we know what we know, and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.”