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Feature story: Dr. Jackie Bors comes home to Woodside

She returns to her hometown as a pediatrician at Village Doctor

"You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame, ..." Thomas Wolfe, "You Can't Go Home Again," 1940.

You can't go home again" has become a part of conventional wisdom, a warning that leaving home, especially for the big city, means not being able to return.

Jackie Bors, though, has not only come home again, to her small hometown of Woodside, after a dozen years away, she's come home to practice medicine in Woodside, where her parents and grandparents, plus her only brother, his wife and her two nephews, all still live.

How Dr. Bors ended up back in the community where she grew up, spending much of her time on the back of a horse, is something both she and her new employer call a bit of "serendipity."

After Woodside Elementary School and Menlo School, Jackie Bors went to the University of Southern California, where she got a degree in biological sciences. She attended medical school at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston before returning to UCLA for her medical residency as a pediatrician.

"I always planned to move back, but basically didn't even know there was a doctor here," she says. It wasn't only the proximity of her family that drew her home. "I like the pace here better than down in Los Angeles," she says. "I love being outdoors and hiking."

Two years ago, taking a break from her residency training, Dr. Bors came to Woodside for her nephew Christopher's first birthday party. Her mom, Susie Bors, suggested Dr. Bors set up an informational interview with Woodside resident and physician Eric Weiss.

She thought her daughter might like learning about the "concierge" medical practice Dr. Weiss started about 10 years ago, called the Village Doctor. Patients pay a monthly retainer that covers their primary care, insurance is not accepted, and doctors only have about 250 patients instead of the 2,000 to 3,000 that most doctors in conventional medical practices have.

"I had never looked into concierge medicine at all," Dr. Bors says. "It's not all that common." But, she says, "it's good to know what other people are doing."

So the two had coffee and chatted "and at the end he says, 'We're actually looking for a pediatrician,'" Dr. Bors says.

"It seemed like a good fit."

Dr. Weiss says much the same.

"For a long time we were trying to hire an outstanding, dynamic young pediatrician," he says. "Jackie really could not be a better fit." One reason is that community is important to the Village Doctor, he says, and as someone who grew up in Woodside, "the community resonated with her," Dr. Weiss says.

Her personality also fits. "You need to be a people person," he says. "You need to like your patients and really get to know them, and not feel like you need a white coat or a stethoscope between you."

The Village Doctor, Dr. Weiss said, is currently looking for another doctor who will fit into the practice as Dr. Bors has, this time an internist.

Dr. Bors, who is 30, says that having grown up in Woodside and attended local schools, "I feel like I kind of get it." Having a lot of money, can, she says, "be hard to handle." "People often think families with money or people with money don't deal with a lot of problems," she says, "that health problems don't touch these people."

However, she says, "every community has its problems. This community just has different problems."

Although she at one time toyed with the idea of being an architect, Dr. Bors says from childhood she was interested in being a doctor. "Apparently one of the very first things I ever said I wanted to do, was to be a doctor," she says. "I wanted my ears pierced and I wanted to be a doctor. The priorities in life."

Dr. Bors says she likes the fact that as a doctor she can make a difference in her patients' lives. She gets to "watch kids grow up and be that person to help them grow up as healthy as they can," she says. "You set them on the right path for their whole life."

Dr. Bors' grandparents, Ursula and Wolfgang Eisenhut, moved to Woodside in the late 1950s, when Jackie's mom, Susie, was just a toddler. Susie and her husband, John Bors, now live next door to the Eisenhuts, who are in their 80s.

The family has long been involved in riding, with Ursula Eisenhut managing the Junior Riders program for more than 40 years. In 2005 the Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA) gave Ms. Eisenhut its first Hall of Fame award. She also served for eight years on the town's Planning Commission.

Jackie started participating in vaulting, the sport of gymnastics on top of a moving horse, when she was 5 and competed for 13 years. She coached vaulters in the summers while she was in college. The team won four national championships, which allowed them to compete in the World Equestrian Games in Europe four times. In Rome, the team won a bronze medal.

The girls practiced tirelessly, with two-hour sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school, all day sessions on Saturdays and Sundays, and cross training on the other days.

Those years of training may have helped Dr. Bors make it through three years of medical residency plus an additional year as a chief resident mentoring other residents. Dr. Bors says residents typically work six days a week, 50 to 80 hours a week, with the occasional 24-to 28-hour shift thrown in, for pay of just a little over $50,000 a year.

She trained in four Los Angeles-area hospitals, dealing with children from newborns in intensive care to those with general medical issues.

Coincidentally, she says, every person who was on her original vaulting team has gone into the medical field. Four are physicians, two are acupuncturists and one is a nurse practitioner. "We can't figure out exactly what that's from," she says, but it could have something to do with the fact that they all learned a lot about health and the body while training, or, maybe, "being incredibly driven," she says.

Since starting work at the Village Doctor in August, Dr. Bors has been able to reconnect with old friends, including one who had a baby two months ago and is now Dr. Bors' patient. "It has been really fun to be their pediatrician for the past almost two months," she says. "Sometimes I'm Dr. Bors, but most of the time I'm still Jackie."

She's been able to go on almost daily walks with her mother, and spend time with her nephews, Christopher who turned 2 recently and Oliver, who is 2 months old. Since she's single, having the nephews has given her first-hand experience in watching a child grow up, she says.

Being an aunt, she says, is "probably my favorite role."

She also has a dog, a Goldendoodle, Riley, who is 8 months old. "I drop my dog off every day at my parents' house," Dr. Bors says. Riley, she says, loves moving (but not eating) anything he can lay teeth on. "I could not find my right shoe this morning," Dr. Bors says.

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