A Journey of Passion
Being a native of Orange County, I moved at the age of eight to Napa, California where I attended local schools. My first taste of passion came to me in Napa when I was introduced to the world of classical ballet. I studied with Shirley Carson Ray, a former dancer with the San Francisco Ballet. After two years of intense training under Mrs. Ray, I received a scholarship for advanced training with the San Francisco Ballet. I eventually became an apprentice with the company. At the age of 18, I decided to relocate to New York City for additional training. I studied with Richard Thomas and Barbara Fallis at the New York School of Ballet. After a school recital, Alfonso Catá, director of the Frankfurt Opera Ballet in Frankfurt Germany, offered me a position with the company. I performed with that company for three years obtaining the role of soloist dancer. From there I was hired by the Zürich Opera Ballet under the direction of Patricia Neary and George Balanchine. After three years of living and dancing in Zürich Switzerland, I returned to the United States and danced with several companies including The Los Angeles Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Ballet Pacifica in Laguna Beach. I had returned to Orange County.
After 15 years of professional dancing, I decided it was time to focus on my academic career. A guidance counselor at Saddleback Community College recognized my interest in mathematics and the new technology of computers. She suggested I pursue an education in the area of computer science. I had found a new passion and enrolled at Saddleback, where I graduated with a 4.0 GPA and earned the award for Outstanding Performance in Mathematics 1984. I transferred to the University of California Irvine (UCI) to complete my education and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Information and Computer Sciences, graduating Cum Laude also receiving an appointment to Phi Beta Kappa. During my senior year as a computer science major, I found my passion shifting to medicine after working on a dance medicine project with the Department of Dance at UCI. I completed an additional year at UCI earning a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, again graduating Cum Laude.
After the lengthy application process for medical school, I received a number of offers including Harvard Medical School. Because of my strong ties to Orange County, I accepted a position at the University of California, Irvine, College of Medicine (UCI-MC). After four years of medical school, I found that psychiatry provided me with the level of passion I had come to expect from life. I completed my medical internship, psychiatric residency, and one year of the Child and Adolescent Fellowship at UCI-MC and opened my private practice in Orange, California. My first office only blocks from my birthplace: St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange.
During medical school, still imbibed with the passion of computers, I co-founded a medical software company with James Jones, MBA. The company, ComputerBooks, produced medical software designed especially for physicians on handheld devices. Our company was the first to produce such products. Apple Computer invited ComputerBooks to include our software on the Newton Message Pad when it launched in 1993. The Message Pad, considered by many to be the precursor to the iPhone, was not widely accepted and physicians were not ready to adopt the software produced by my company. So I decided to focus my passion on medicine.
I continued in private practice and joined the staff of Western Medical Center Santa Ana’s, geriatric psychiatry unit. I worked as an attending physician and associate medical director for several years. I also provided consultation services to several different skilled nursing facilities in Orange County. I was a principal owner in the Neuropsychiatric Management Group (NPMG) when it first started in 1995. NPMG provided the management of several different geriatric psychiatry units in hospitals in Orange and Los Angeles Counties.
I volunteered with the Orange County Mental Health Association where for two years I moderated workshops in their annual “Meeting of the Minds” seminar. I also provided lectures throughout Orange County focusing on the mental health issues of seniors. Together with Patricia Lenahan, LCSW, I created and taught a behavioral science program for the family practice residents at UCI’s Department of Family Practice.
I took a medical leave of absence in June 2013. Now several years later, I find myself ready to return to a lifelong passion of helping others. Rather than returning to what I had established in the past, I decided to reinvent myself and created this concept of “Concierge Psychiatry”. I no longer have an office. I go to the patient rather than having the patient come to me. I visit patients in any number of settings: home, school, workplace, and/or facilities. Concierge physicians traditionally charge an annual retainer in addition to their regular fees and provide more attention and other value-added services for their patients. I feel the practice of medicine should include complete attention and whatever services necessary for one’s patients without charging an extra fee. In that way I am different. I find great passion in my new model of providing mental health care to my patients.
Please refer to other pages on my website for additional information and thank you for reading about my Journey of Passion.
Robert L Woods MD