By Amanda Pampuro
Dr. Thomas Shieh
Dr. Shieh’s Clinic
In his senior year of high school, Dr. Thomas Shieh’s grandmother told him, “I think you will make a good doctor. Can you think of something else that can be as productive as helping a fellow human being?”
A strong woman, who took care of the family, Shieh Su Ying also told him, “No matter what you do in life, do good.” So even as a young student, Shieh says, “I learned to never take life for granted and yes, do good. [By that] I mean stand up for those who are quiet and can’t speak up too. Sometimes in our society, we see wrong, but we stand by and ignore it, then the world is evil — not because of evil people, [but] the world becomes evil because of those who don’t speak up against those who do evil.”
During his third year of medical school, Shieh watched his wife give birth to their second daughter, Tiffany, and inspired by the experience, he decided to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology.
While serving in the U.S. Navy, Shieh and his family were transferred to Naval Hospital Guam, where he provided care for four years. While many come and go from Guam through military orders, Shieh remained in Guam and recently celebrated 20 years as a resident.
Though the island community is tight-knit and business is never slow, Shieh says his work is not without challenges including providing health care to those who are uninsured and underinsured. “I can only provide so much time in charity for those who are unable to afford care,” he says.
Nevertheless, Shieh prides himself on the fact that at his practice he can “manage a large overhead, pay my staff, pay for supplies and high-tech equipment. … In the health care business, it is hard to train and retain your staff.” In fact, he says he has retained more than 95% of his staff. “I love my staff. I think they are the most wonderful people […] Each one of them loves their work, and I treat them like family.”
The doctor who has helped more than 8,000 women give birth still has trouble putting the experience into words. “To hear a baby cry for the first time and witnessing the smile from a new mother as she holds her baby for the first time — wow. How awesome can life be?”
Other daily victories of the job include detecting cancer early, helping women conceive when the odds are against them and securing bone marrow for transplants through the Drive for Justice, a registry drive Shieh organizes for bone marrow donors.
“My motto has always been advancing women’s health from Hawaii to Guam, and I will continue to do so,” Shieh said.
In the future, Shieh looks forward to watching the Guam Memorial Hospital upgrade its obstetrics ward with a renovated labor and delivery center and a new nursery.
In his time off, Shieh loves vacationing at Disney parks and spending time with his high school sweetheart, Raven, whom he married 30 years ago.
“I often behave unlike a doctor by simply being me,” Shieh says. “I wear my shorts and T-shirts 80% of the time when I am out, and I speak casually to many of my patients I bump into. They are my friends. Guam is small, and I don’t hold myself on a high horse. I am the same as anyone outside, especially when you see me driving in one of my hot rods with the guys.”