Rick McKinney, MD

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Rick McKinney, MD

Professionally, Dr. McKinney describes that he gets paid to do the things he loves the most--teaching residents and medical students and practicing integrative medicine. He's a clinical professor at UCSF, teaching in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and practicing at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. He came to that role after practicing privately for nearly twenty years, having experienced the full spectrum of clinical medicine in a wide range of settings. His prior work has included both rural and frontier practices, small town settings, and busy inner city clinics.

Rick came to his first practice in Seward, Alaska shortly after being first board certified in Family Medicine in 1981. As one of two physicians within a 100 mile radius, their doctoring was full of exciting and challenging situations - delivering babies in blizzards, administering spinal anesthetic via telephone instructions from 150 miles away, performing caesarean section without an assisting physician or pediatrician, and manning the hospital for days on end when avalanches blocked the roads. This frontier practice of medicine provided satisfying experiences of doctoring, and powerfully fostered the growth of courage, independent thinking, and resourcefulness. These qualities became part of the foundation for his doctoring, and now serve as touchstones to help him navigate through medical chaos while remaining open and present.

After leaving Alaska, Dr. McKinney practiced for the next 15 years in central Washington State. The first ten years were in Quincy, a very rural and somewhat isolated town, where he and his partners staffed the Emergency Room and performed surgeries, ran the outpatient clinic, supervised long-term care, and delivered babies. Teaching for UW, they often had residents working with them for six months a year. That’s when Rick learned just how much he enjoyed teaching. After relocating to a larger town 35 miles away, Rick was moved to discover that more than half of his patients had chosen to continue their care with him. It was a wonderful gift to be able to care for many of the same people for a decade and a half. This experience of “small town” doctoring provided valuable lessons of connection, commitment and community, further enhancing Rick’s understanding of the art of medicine and opening him to the differing wisdom and beauty inherent in every patient’s process of healing.

Rick moved to San Francisco in 1999 following a series of changes in his personal life. He began teaching part time at UCSF’s Family Medicine Residency program, working also at free clinics in the “worst” part of town. Serving primarily the medically indigent, he dealt with challenging patients, difficult problems and few resources. Dr. McKinney now works full time for UCSF, splitting his time between San Francisco General Hospital and the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. Since 2008, Rick has hosted Integrative Medicine for the Underserved (IM4U), a monthly conference call focused on sharing insights and solutions to these challenges across the nation. Since graduating from the UAz Fellowship in Integrative Medicine in 2010, he has been asked to develop and direct IM4U-sfgh, a partnership between Family Medicine and the Osher created to bring integrative care to the urban underserved. At SFGH, he also serves as attending physician, supervising residents and students in a busy outpatient clinic, and director of the minor surgery clinic in Family Medicine. Special interests include mindfulness and Mind-Body Medicine, botanical and nutritional medicine, spirituality and healing, provider well being, and a type of manual medicine called strain/counterstrain. Rick’s doctoring experiences in the Bay area continue to nurture his growth as a physician and as a leader, teaching him deeper lessons in listening, flexibility and compassion.

Dr. McKinney’s long work in medicine has made him profoundly aware of the mystery of healing and has led him into deeper exploration of the art of medicine. Personal issues, including a difficult divorce and the deaths of friends and family, opened him to search for his own deep healing. The search led him to explore and experience acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, body work/massage, osteopathy, and reiki. He began the practice of vipassana meditation, studied and became certified in Reiki, began the exploration of shamanic journeying, and went on pilgrimages to witness and experience spiritual healings in Brazil. He has incorporated many of these practices into his daily life, and has also shifted his framework of doctoring to include them. His practice has opened to embrace a mind-body-spirit approach to medicine, which holds space to allow the uniqueness of each person’s healing path to be recognized and honored. It is a practice which is grounded in a stance of loving-kindness, presence, listening, and openness, and which is comfortable holding both the hard science of allopathic medicine and the unknowable, mysterious aspects of healing.

Rick lives on a houseboat in Sausalito with his wife Katharine, their two sons, their pets, and a huge number of potted plants. His daughter, his grandson and his mother all live within a few miles. When not doctoring, he loves to laugh, to cook, to paint, to spend time with his family and friends, and to enjoy the many blessings of his life.