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.”
If someone had asked Dr. Nicholas Mouw what he wanted to do growing up, surgeon would not have been on his list.
Mouw, however, is excited now to be the new general surgeon at Sioux Center Health.
In his youth, Mouw’s grandfather planted the thought of being a doctor in his mind, and it was something he could never quite shake.
Mouw, a Sioux Center native, attended Sioux Center Christian School and then graduated from Unity Christian High School in Orange City in 1997. He is the son of Jim and the late Thea Mouw of Sioux Center. He started his undergraduate work at Iowa State University but did his final year at University of South Dakota, moving closer to home to be close to his eventual wife, Emily, who lived and worked in Sioux Center.
“I worked for my dad for quite awhile,” Mouw said of his dad’s excavation and construction business Jim’s Digging in Sioux Center. “After a year of undergraduate work, I didn’t have any good direction. My original intent was some kind of engineering because I’d been involved in construction with my dad. But I gave up on that and didn’t really know what was next.”
He kept thinking about the wishes of his grandfather, Andy Van Dyk of Orange City, who wanted to have a physician in the family.
“It was his dream and it was something that was in the back of my mind,” Mouw said. “I suppressed it for quite a while.”
He also did some traveling, spending a year in United Kingdom and New Zealand. In the U.K. he worked in a store selling outdoor equipment and in New Zealand he picked apples on a tree farm and on a sheep farm.
During his time away from school, he also spent time with a group of friends from Sioux County.
“One night we were all at one of my friend’s house and his parents, who had known me for a long time, said to me ‘Why are you here? You should be at medical school,” Mouw recalled. “My mom, probably because of my grandfather’s wishes, also had pushed me in that direction. I think some of those thoughts got to me.”
The prodding led him to do some soul searching about the future.
“I did some more thinking about becoming a physician while I was overseas,” he said. “When I came back, I re-enrolled at Iowa State. I realized that I could do quite well at school. That’s when I started to hone in on medicine and working on a path toward medical school.”
When he applied for the Medical College Admission Test, which is needed to apply for medical school, Mouw had a strong score.
“That made my next step def initive,” Mouw said. “I knew that was the direction I was going to go.”
He was accepted for medical school at the University of Colorado, but took another year off studies first because his nontraditional path left him without any state that would offer in-state tuition for medical school.
“At that time, Colorado said that if you lived there a year, you could establish residency and would have in-state tuition,” Mouw said. “Emily and I had just gotten married so we moved to Colorado.”
A year later, he started medical school.
“During the third year of medical school, you start doing some rotations,” Mouw said. “I enjoyed doing the surgery work even though it’s considered one of the harder specialties for families. Our oldest son was born during that third year, and at first I had concerns about the life style, but, I think due to my construction background, I enjoyed the work. It seemed to be a good fit for me.”
Mouw did five years of residency at Southern Illinois University in Springfield, Ill.
The steps back to Sioux Center fell into place as well.
His dad served on a county medical board along with Sioux Center Health CEO Kayleen Lee as Nick was finishing up in medical school and preparing for his residency.
“At a meeting [Lee] was talking about the need for general surgeons here in northwest Iowa,” Mouw said. “My dad told her that I was training to be a general surgeon. At one point, Kayleen called me up and talked to me. Over time, we began talking about that possibility. I actually signed the contract to come here four years ago.”
It helped assure Mouw as he was finishing medical school and going through residency that he knew of the possibility back in northwest Iowa.
“Probably because I was a nontraditional student, I worried about that next step more than some of my peers,” he said. “Emily is originally from a small town [Sutton, Neb.] so we’d talked about wanting to someday end up in a smaller community. The fit seemed to be good.”
Many times surgeons don’t end up in smaller communities even if it’s where they grew up.
“Medical schools are usually in larger cities and the same is true for residency,” Mouw said. “You spend four years in medical school and then in my case five years in residency so you get away from the small town. The majority of people pick their next location based on residency and medical school. More than 90 percent end up where they trained. I’ve always considered Sioux Center my home.”
Mouw completed his residency in June and has been working on the national board certification, which includes a written and oral components.
The family moved to Sioux Center three weeks ago. Last week included orientation at Sioux Center Health. The doctors in general surgery, Dr. Mark Stelzer, Dr. Shahid Naqvi and Dr. Jian-Zhe Cao, serve in Sioux Center and Le Mars.
“Everyone has been excited to see me,” Mouw said. “I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Education: Bachelors Degree: University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD (2005)
Medical Degree: University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO (2011)
Family: Wife Emily and Children Austin 6, Chase 4 and Jane 2
Hobbies: Pleasant hunting, fishing, reading, and running