Spring 2018 Kenai Fresh Air: Dr. Peter Hansen

Apr 30, 2018

Dr. Peter Hansen reflects on more than a half century practicing family medicine in Kenai.
Credit Peninsula Community Health Services

A lot has changed in healthcare in Dr. Peter Hansen’s 51 years practicing family medicine in Kenai. During this special Spring Membership Drive edition of Kenai Fresh Air, we talk with Dr. Hansen about his first trip to Alaska in the early 1960's, starting his own family practice in Kenai and the legacy of the Hansen name in Kenai.

Interview highlights-

On choosing to pursue a medical career as after taking the Kuder preference test as a teenager:

"Up until the 8th grade, I had kind of decided I either wanted to be a truck driver or a farmer or a preacher, believe it or not.... Having learned about the scientific method that year, I decided in talking with my folks, I need to look at that. Scientifically, I'm not going to be a good truck driver. I'm not going to be a good farmer. For one thing, I didn't have  a farm to inherit. I'm probably not going to be a good preacher. So that's how I narrowed it down to being a family doctor. And I really wanted to be a family doctor."

On his first meeting with Alaska Governor William Egan in Juneau after hearing Egan promoting the Kenai Peninsula on a radio program in Minnesota:

"The summer that I went up to Juneau to work in a hospital, it was a rainy day when I arrived and I drove up under this canopy of this old, white house and asked directions to the hospital where I was supposed to go to work. And I did not know that the governor was the governor. And he came out and talked with me and wanted to know what I was going to be doing all summer and where I was going and where I was from. He told me the way to the hospital and it wasn't until a couple weeks later that he got a fish hook in his arm, he came into the hospital, I was the first guy to see him, and then I discovered he was the governor."

On the difficulty of choosing to leave his full time practice at age 80:

"My heart is there. Back at the age of 50, I remember thinking by 55 I’m going to retire. Well then 55 came and it was going to be 60. And then it was going to be 65 and so on… But I’ve got to get some other things done that I’m going to do. I’m working on a book and some other things for the community. What’s been difficult for me is, and what I realized about six months ago is, my patients have become my closest friends... And because of confidentiality in medicine, a family doctor does not make a lot of really close friends because you share stories about life, but those are inside the office usually….That’s why it’s taken me so long to begin to retire is knowing that I’m not going to get to see most of these people again... Our area has grown so much.”

More on Dr. Hansen here.