When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things. I just want to get at it slowly, but carefully and thoroughly.
— R.M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Welcome to Happy Doc Family Medicine! My name is Lara Knudsen, and I’m a family physician in Salem, Oregon. I opened this clinic in April 2013 with my husband.

After spending 12 years in college, medical school, and residency training in order to become a doctor, I found it frustrating to work in a large health care system where I felt pressured to see many patients every day. The knowledge and skills that I worked so hard to acquire are not easily compressed into 15-minute visits, nor is responding to people’s innermost fears about their health. Throughout my training, my husband and I took note of burnt out physicians and we resolved to alter our path in order to attempt to avoid that fate. We pledged to try something different if we saw any early signs of a broken give-a-darn in myself.

In residency training I had heard of a different model of clinic, called an "ideal medical practice" or “micro practice." The idea is simple enough - a physician opens a small clinic and runs it alone, or perhaps with one assistant. The overhead expenses are low, which means the doctor can spend a lot more time with each patient because she or he doesn’t need to generate the income to pay for a large clinic and all its staff. This clinic model is becoming more popular and there are at least 500 physicians nationwide who have opened their own micro practices. I held a series of community meetings in Salem in early 2013, eliciting ideas from people about what they want in their clinic, then put those ideas into action.

If you come to my clinic you’ll see it doesn’t look like a typical health clinic. As one of my 8-year-old patients asked skeptically, “Shouldn’t this clinic be bigger?” In my 330 square feet there is no receptionist or medical assistant. As patients are seen promptly at their appointment time, the waiting room is more for decoration than for waiting. Appointments are 30 minutes long for a simple problem, and an hour for anything more complex. Soft, colorful gowns, made by my family and me, adorn the exam room walls. The thing I love most about my clinic is that I have time to sit and listen to people and hopefully answer all their questions at every visit.

A little about me... I grew up in Portland, Oregon. I moved to Vermont to attend Marlboro College, where I studied International Development Studies and Biology and where I met my husband. I attended medical school and also completed a Master’s in Public Health at George Washington University, in Washington, DC. Throughout that time period, I traveled and wrote a book about women’s health in 7 countries, called Reproductive Rights in a Global Context. I then moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where I completed my residency training in family medicine at the University of Wisconsin. I moved to Salem in 2011. I love hiking, biking, reading, and I am trying to learn how to play a banjo and how to grow vegetables.   

I am Board-Certified with the American Board of Family Medicine. I speak Spanish and enjoy serving the Latino community. I have particular interests in reproductive health, pediatrics, LGBT health, and preventive health. As a family doc, I see patients from "cradle to grave" - newborns to centenarians.