Internal Medicine Physician James Hildebrandt, DO, began his 25-year tenure at Sarah Bush Lincoln in 1996 as an emergency medicine physician. Over the years, he has also served as the president of the medical staff, Medical Director of the Hospitalist program (which he implemented in 2011), and for the past eight years, as Vice President of Medical Affairs. He has been an enthusiastic and committed leader, and he is now returning to his first love: direct patient care.
“Serving in the VP position has been extremely rewarding, especially in implementing new changes to the hospital. But I have really missed the patient interaction element and solving people’s problems with medicine,” Dr. Hildebrandt remarked.
His willingness to take on challenges goes way back. During Dr. Hildebrandt’s junior year of college, his friends dared him to take a biology course with the most difficult professor at Carthage College. He had been studying psychology, which was an “easy” science, according to his friends who studied biology and chemistry. Dr. Hildebrandt accepted the dare and promised his friends that he would earn the highest grade in the class. He did. However, he ended the semester with a much greater prize: a newfound passion for science.
He then enrolled in more biology classes, and he aced them all. Toward the end of the year, Dr. Hildebrandt’s biology professor pulled him aside and asked him what he planned to do as a career.
“I told her that I would either go back to work at my parent’s paint and body shop in Florida or become a counselor. She surprised me by telling me that I should go to medical school. I had never considered that as an option for myself. But I had a very respected person telling me that I could,” Dr. Hildebrandt said.
Upon graduation, he headed back down to Miami to work at his family’s shop and take the night classes that were required to apply to medical school. A year later, he started at Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Hildebrandt graduated medical school in 1989 with a strong interest in both internal and emergency medicine. His residency program allowed him to pursue both.
This year, he earned his allergist certification. Allergy immunotherapy, testing, and the treatment of asthma and other allergic diseases is available at the SBL Medical Clinic at Center for Healthy Living.
Some signs that a person should see an allergist include persistent nasal congestion, itchy/watery eyes, sneezing, throat clearing, an intense reaction to certain foods, and constant pressure in the ears. Typically, people five or older can be tested for allergies, but in some cases, patients younger than five can be tested.
“I’ve always known that I’m happiest when I am of service to others. I view a physician as a consultant to patients. They are in charge, and I help form a partnership where I suggest things patients may not have thought of. My job is to figure out what their goals are and help them reach those priorities,” Dr. Hildebrandt explained. He is accepting new patients age 12 years and older. People younger than 12 years old can be seen if they require allergy services.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Hildebrandt helped develop SBL’s medical policies for hospital and patient safety by keeping abreast of all scientific information as it became available.
“The COVID-19 pandemic was subconsciously a reason I moved back to medicine. I wanted to be in there helping treat patients. It reignited my desire to get back into the clinical arena. I’m jumping back in with both feet,” Dr. Hildebrandt said.
In his free time, he spends time with family and his four dogs. He runs, golfs, and plays competitive online chess. “I look forward to in-person tournaments when those open back up,” Dr. Hildebrandt said.
Advanced Practice Providers Tom Dust, PA-C, and Andrew McDevitt, APRN, continue to care for people in the new SBL Medical Clinic. For more information about the SBL Medical Clinic at Center for Healthy Living, or to make an appointment with Dr. Hildebrandt, please call 217 238-4961.