The unassuming Dr. Ed Liechty gave me the chance to ask him seven questions recently. The theme of his life can be summed up as follows: The more he learned, the more he understood that he didn’t know everything, and that there was always more than one way to solve problems. Rather than doing more, regarding health care decisions and implementation, sometimes doing less was the better way.
Your mother was a nurse; your dad died when you were young; what else led you to enter the health care field?
Well, I was always mostly interested in science, even as a little kid, and planned to study chemistry in college.
Do you have any extraordinary memories of your experience at Goshen College, a small undergraduate Mennonite college?
I had some great chemistry teachers at Goshen College, one of them being Don Clemens, (the father of Rhonda Talbot). When I went to Goshen, I knew they had a good reputation for medical school acceptance. Years later, while on the admissions committee, I found that a high GPA at Goshen College was a big deal. But the school also produced students with an above-average ethical outlook on life; they were not just in it for money.
You are a man of science and medicine—how has that enhanced or diminished your faith in God?
I guess I never saw much conflict between science, faith, and religion. Scientific methods and observations are different than faith.
It’s been said that at an Academic Medical Center, a person teaches and is taught. What did you learn and then teach?
I learned humility. I learned there was always more than one way to solve a problem. I appreciated the uncertainties. As I matured, I tried to teach that being supportive of parents is just as important as coming up with the answers.
You have worked overseas. Why is it essential that people in health care take advantage of these educational opportunities to serve outside our borders?
Humility, I didn’t know as much as I thought.
Retirement is risky business; sometimes, deep depression sets in. How are you going to avoid the pitfall of depression?
First of all, I don’t define my identity as a doctor alone. I enjoyed it, yes, but I was husband, dad, and friend when I came home. Nowadays, I see more people depressed while working—suffering burnout—than in persons who have retired.
You have a lot of living left to do, Ed, but if you were to write your tombstone, what would it say?
Ha-ha, I have not really thought of that—other than all of my ancestors that were in the US are all buried in the same cemetery in Illinois—going back five or six generations.
In summary, I predict that Ed is not going to be depressed in retirement. But if I can be his doctor just for a moment, I will definitely recommend that he join our church choir to be on the safe side.