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Closing The Loop: Claire Holland

Warren Miller

Claire Holland grew up in Connecticut, and knew from an early that she wanted to be a doctor of some kind.

“I was a candy-striper at age 16, and I loved the whole hospital atmosphere,” she said. “I loved the idea that you could learn about people, that they’d tell you their story of why they were there, and what hurt and what worried them.”

Claire went through high school with medicine as her goal, studied premed in college and then went on to medical school. But even as she went through the arduous work of becoming a physician, Claire Holland was pursuing another dream, as well.

“I started singing when I was in fifth grade, and was always in a chorus, even through medical school and residency… which was frowned upon,” she explained. “I told them, I’m not taking call on Monday nights.”

Claire did her residency and established her first practice in Saginaw, Michigan.

“I really hated medical school, and when I went into practice, I decided to give it some time to see if practicing medicine would be different. It was… but not different enough. After fours year, I closed my practice and went  back to college to become a choral director.”

Claire Holland started all over again as an undergrad, but immediately got a job conducting a chorus. She earned a masters and completed the course work for her second doctorate. Then she was asked to come back into medicine.

“The university where I was working on my Ph.D. started a new women’s health center, and they asked me if I would head it up.”

But soon afterwards, Claire fell in love with a man from Florida and moved to Jacksonville. She worked as a physician at Mayport Naval Air Station. When that position ended, she was asked to teach music at the University of North Florida.

In a break between jobs, Claire was invited to visit a school of massage therapy in Gainesville .

“I took two steps in there, and said, 'I want to do this'.”

So Claire Holland trained in and became certified at a third profession. The difference is that one is inclusive, and combines the things she likes best of her two other careers.

“The way I interact with my massage clients is very different than being a white-coated physician,” she said. “I feel like I’m a better person. I listen more to my clients.”

Claire Holland brings many perspectives to what she does, from all the things she’s done in her life. 

“The physician, it’s the taking care of people. And they talk about ‘the dance of the massage,’ communicating with the client. It’s very musical.”

Warren Miller is a writer and financial executive who lives near St. Augustine, Florida.