Local doctor enjoying a new phase in life; Dr. Cynthia Dube transitions from work to arts, hobbies

Published 3:43 pm Saturday, May 2, 2015

Dr. Cynthia Dube will be retiring from Mayo Clinic Health Systems — Austin after 20 years with the hospital. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Dr. Cynthia Dube will be retiring from Mayo Clinic Health Systems — Austin after 20 years with the hospital. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Dr. Cynthia Dube started with a history degree, then worked more than 20 years in medicine, and now she’s focusing on the arts in retirement.

Dube retired April 24 after serving many roles at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin. She served as medical director from 2002 to 2010, was a member of the board of directors and performance improvement chair from 1998 to 2002, was the Hospitalist Division chair from 2011 to 2013, and had served as the Hospice medical director since 2014.

While Dube will continue to work part time as the medical director for the hospice program, she’s enjoying the added freedom of retirement.

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“It feels great so far, other than I’ve spent the week cleaning my house,” Dube laughed. “I’m excited.”

From history, to medicine, to the arts

Dube started with a history degree, but when she couldn’t find a job with it she started working at a group home for developmentally disabled people.

“That was the most rewarding, fun job in the whole world,” Dube said. “But that’s how I got interested in medicine.”

After that, she took several years of schooling to fulfill requirements, had a practice for about more than three years in Little Falls, Minnesota, and developed a criteria for what she wanted to do with her career.

“I kind of learned what I wanted to look for in my next practice, and I had a list of criteria and Austin really fit,” she said.

Dube is looking forward to the time she gained through retirement.

“Medicine was always challenging, yet rewarding,” Dube said. “It demanded a lot of time and energy and basically commitment. So the thing that I look forward to the most is freedom.”

With her newfound freedom, Dube plans to give her many hobbies more time.

Dube enjoys gardening, growing succulent plants and making jewelry, which she sells at the Austin ArtWorks Center. She has also made hats, made cards, decorated cupcakes and baked cakes. She enjoys reading, traveling and has five animals — two “Chug” dogs and three rescued cats. She also has a big property to take care of where she has lived for 20 years.

Now, she hopes to take more art classes, such as drawing, painting and pottery.

“I love color, which is why the gardening and the jewelry making were such a draw,” Dube said. “I love just surrounding myself with all this color.”

Dube also hopes to travel more, noting some of her favorite places to visit are France, England and Italy. She may even write a book of new funny stories she develops.

Though she has gained time with her retirement, she has also given up a lot.

“I enjoyed taking care of people, and I’ll miss having their trust and the need to come and see you because they’ve got an issue or they just want somebody to help guide them to take better care of themselves,” Dube said. “But now I have to do it for myself. I have to take care of myself, and I need really to concentrate on that.”

‘I loved my coworkers’

Dube, almost 62, said she doesn’t feel her age.

“Age is nothing to me, because in my mind I feel like I’m 25. Well, maybe 35,” Dube laughed.

Even so, she knew it was time to retire.

“There are a lot of changes going on in medicine, and a lot of changes going on in our health care system,” she said. “And I realized at my age I am not as flexible as I used to be in accepting change, incorporating it into my daily practice.”

The changes coincided with Dube’s desire to do more with her artistic endeavors.

“And my craving to do artistic things has been growing, and the two kind of collaborated,” she said.

Dube learned a lot about herself during her career — some things she didn’t expect, such as the need to get better at her people skills. She also learned that not every question or problem in medicine has an answer and she had to accept that and learn to deal with the frustration. She advised new people going into the medical field to remember to listen to the patient and not get caught up in categorizing symptoms and miss something important. She also advised keeping coworkers in good graces.

“You are a team member and you participate in providing care to patients with the rest of your team, respecting everybody’s expertise and drawing on their expertise,” Dube said.

Her final piece of advice was to take a vacation every two months to avoid getting burnt out becoming jaded.

Dube will miss the relationships she developed with both patients and coworkers.

“I loved my coworkers, I loved making them laugh,” she said with a laugh herself. “That I am really going to miss, my coworkers. In fact I’m going to have to buy donuts and go up there sometimes.”