A nontraditional path brought Dr. Lyndle Shelby to Sioux Center Health.
Shelby, 45, officially started as a family practice doctor at the medical clinic last week.
“I said a number of times that if I had gone straight to medical school when I was finished with my undergrad studies when I first applied for medical school, I would have been a far better student,” Shelby said. “But having gone to medical school later in life and with my life experiences, I’ll be a better doctor. That’s what it’s about — now I can relate to people on a different level.”
Shelby grew up on a farm in south central Oklahoma. When he finished college at the University of Science and Arts in Chickasa, Okla., in 1994, he first applied to medical school.
“I didn’t make it in and was already married and working in the environmental field for Delta Faucet,” he said noting that he hadn’t had aspirations for the medical field until late in his college career. “None of my family was in medicine and looking back I didn’t really have the experience one should have. I hadn’t worked in any nursing homes, as an aide or had any real medical experience.”
After working for a couple years in Oklahoma, he moved to Iowa to be an environmental compliance manager at Crestland Cooperative in Creston. Then in 2001 he started his own contracting business as a manure hauler with a partner from Carroll.
“My partner was very familiar with the livestock industry here in Iowa and at the time the dairy industry was booming,” Shelby said. “It was growing, even here in Sioux County and some of the surrounding counties.”
Shelby actually had jobs in Sioux County as part of the manure hauling business in the early 2000s. However, in 2008, he sold out of the manure hauling business. He had bought out his partner in 2007, and two of his hired hands left the business as well, leading to a transition.
“It was about that time that my mom died in Oklahoma too, so I sold the business, and moved back to the home farm,” Shelby said. “I thought back to my interest in medicine. At first it seemed like an insurmountable thought to go back to medical school. We had two kids.”
His next idea was nursing school.
“Nursing school and medical school have two different sets of prerequisites,” Shelby said. “I didn’t have everything I needed for nursing school so I had to go back and take some classes. One of those classes was taught by a graduate of Ross University.”
Ross University is one of the largest medical schools in the world and is located in the Caribbean Islands at Portsmouth, Dominica. The professor became a mentor to Shelby as he started asking more questions about the medical field.
“He told me that I wasn’t too old to pursue the medical field and told me that people older than me were going in and were very successful,” Shelby said. “We thought long and hard. I applied to Ross University and got in right away.”
He started at Ross in January 2009 and spent two years completing the “book learning” part of medical school. He went to New England — Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut — to do his clinical rotations. He also spent time back at Ross University taking courses in pediatrics, surgery and anesthesia. Dominica has the highest concentration of active volcanoes in the world. In fact, while Shelby and his family were there, one of the islands was evacuated because of a volcano’s eruption.
“It was a very rewarding experience,” Shelby said. “It’s a Third World country with First World amenities scattered here and there. It’s unique place. The university is very technologically advanced. I loved the place and the people. They were so grateful for the help they could get.”
Shelby finished his classes and graduated from medical school in 2013 and did his family medicine residency at the University of Wyoming in Cheyenne, Wyo.
Back to Iowa
The decision to come back to Iowa was rooted in Shelby’s experience in the state as a manure pumper.
“I really loved this area; it treated me well when I was in business,” he said. “I really enjoyed the good, honest, down-to-earth farm people,” he said. “They are similar to the people I grew up around.”
He looks forward to working with the community, recognizing that many members of the community have ag roots, just like he does.
“Not too many doctors have had the experience of being covered in cow manure from head to toe,” he said. “In a community like this that connection is helpful.”
He also has maintained his corporations in manure pumping too even though there are no longer assets.
“I’ve got two boys and I don’t think it would be unheard of to see them getting involved in the manure pumping business someday,” Shelby said. “Country living is a good way to raise a family — it’s what we were looking for. The ag opportunities in Oklahoma are pretty scarce. If you want to teach kids to run a business, it has be profitable. It’s a nice Christian community with strong schools — that’s important to us.”
The location is also close to Shelby’s in-laws who live in Kimball, Neb.
“When I started looking for jobs, I put the center of the compass in Canton, S.D., and drew a circle within 100 miles, ” he said, noting that he initially got in touch with Avera and Sanford, two of the major medical providers in South Dakota and Iowa. He eventually started interviewing for the Sioux Center position with former Sioux Center Health physician Dick Jongewaard. He signed with Sioux Center Health two years ago. “The Sioux Center group was great.”
He started his orientation at Sioux Center Health last week but began working in the emergency room earlier this summer.
“That has been a great transition for me,” he said. “It’s introduced me to many staff members. I’m meeting people from the community that way too. Those are 24-hour shifts and it has allowed me to start getting set up at home too.”
The Shelbys live on an acreage near Ireton.
“We love to raise the kids out in the country,” he said. “We’re excited to be here. The boys started to delve into school and that’s gone very well.”
Education: Undergrad-University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha, Okla; Medical school: Ross University Medical School in Portsmouth, Dominica; Residency: University of Wyoming
Family: Wife Lanelle and children Logan, 13, and Ethan, 11
Hobbies: Outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, and target shooting “It doesn’t seem like I have near enough time to get to those activities as I’d like,” he said. “I’ve been busy on my acreage so far.”
Published by Sioux Center News