Sunday, January 7, 2018

Dr. Eric Shreder: Mesa, Arizona, doctor spreads his wings with patients

Psychology major, commercial pilot, flight instructor and wellness doctor.

Dr. Eric Shreder combines his varied background into one medical practice called Full Circle Health, near the Mesa/Gilbert line.

“It’s a med spa-like environment but we do bio-identical hormones, aesthetics, IV therapies, CoolSculpting, anti-aging medicine, laser, Botox, injectables and facial fillers, regenerative medicine, and weight loss,” Shreder said.

Although he treats patients from all walks of life and professions, many of Shreder’s clients are airline pilots.

“I see thousands and thousands of airline pilots and air traffic controllers every year,” Shreder said, adding:

“I’m involved with a Federal Aviation Administration program called HIMS, the Human Intervention Motivation Study program, which gets pilots who have problems with drugs and alcohol back into the cockpit. It also helps pilots with depression issues back into the cockpit on antidepressants.”

Pilots attracted his attention while he was studying for his master’s degree in psychology.

“I got interested in pilot vision in graduate school and did a lot of research in dynamic visual acuity, and that got me into the whole pilot field,” he explained.

He got his first job after graduate school in Wichita, Kansas as a cockpit design engineer at Boeing.

“I worked on advanced R&D programs, advanced displays and controls to be integrated into new cockpit designs,” Shreder said.

After a few years, he went to Douglas Aircraft in California, where he worked on cockpit controls.

After that, Shreder learned the helicopter business at Falcon Field Airport in Mesa, working on the Apaches and the MD-80 Explorer in the daytime and teaching engineers how to fly at Falcon Field in the evenings.

Around that time, layoffs hit the aerospace industry and, after 10 years in the aviation industry, Shreder went to medical school.

In 2000, at age 34, he started practicing both traditional and natural medicine.  

He called his practice “very traditional as far as I do a lot of surgeries in the office,” explaining, “I do a lot of orthopedic sports injury type stuff with knee-lubricant injections, steroid injections.

“I do a lot of dermatology. I take off a lot of skin cancers. So pretty much conventional as far as that. I’m treating the blood pressure and diabetes and all that stuff. But really in the last seven or eight years, we’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on getting training in aesthetics.”

Shreder is a member of the American Association of Anti-Aging Medicine. “I don’t want to become a victim of the diseases I’m treating. So, my idea is I’m going to learn these things for me and my family and then help my patients to slow the aging process.”

He also provides in-office detox for people hooked on heroin and pills, but his passion is in treating pilots.

“Part of my job has been to convince airline pilots is that they’re mortal too,” Shreder said. “There has been this tradition to not have the aviation medical examiner be your regular doctor. What I try to do is to convince them that prevention is the way to go and let me be their regular doc.”

About 40 percent of his patients are pilots and their families.  

“I do some non-invasive testing, some advance blood testing, to try and find out if they’ve got underlying cardiovascular disease they don’t know about and get them back into the cockpit. It’s better to find this out rather than have it happen in the air.”

A commercial pilot and certified flight instructor, Shreder has his own airplane and enjoys flying to Flagstaff every weekend. “I’m actively out there, talking to the air traffic controllers that I might have just had in for a flight physical,” he said. “So, I’m part of the industry and they know it. They know I’ve been involved in the cockpit design aspects of it. They know I’ve been up there and do it.

“I think I’m more relatable and I can kind of understand some of the gray areas I think better than a lot of other docs.”

Whether you’re a pilot or in another profession, Shreder said exercise is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“You have to make time for exercise. I exercise every day. Every day of my life. I have not missed a full day of work in 20 years. It’s not just because I’m a business owner and I got to be here.

“The fact I get up every morning, I do my calisthenics, my run with my dog, I do my exercise, I live what I like to have my patients live,” he added. “In other words, I don’t tell them to do something I wouldn’t do myself. No one will take me seriously if I was way out of shape or didn’t appear like I care.”

Going to a wellness center such as Full Circle Health is different than going to a doctor, according to Shreder. His focus is to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of a problem or disease to improve a patient’s quality of life.

“Insurance companies are all about getting you to just not be sick. Really what my goal is for people to be well and healthy and that’s a different thing. And that’s kind of why we branched out into the new side of the practice.”

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