You can count on Dr. Daniel S. Gale to be there when you need him.
Gale is an emergency medicine physician with BayCare Clinic. His dedication to helping others dates back to his childhood.
As a child, Gale spent much time caring for his younger sister while his parents worked on their small dairy farm.
“My sister and I spent hours and hours playing and reading books. There was an old tape recorder where we would record ourselves singing songs and singing nursery rhymes. It was my job to keep my sister safe and comfortable and happy,” Gale says.
That desire to ensure the well-being of others led Gale to his career as a physician.
“It’s stereotypical, but the little kids who want to be a firefighter or a police officer, I was the little kid that wanted to be a doctor and that never changed,” he says.
That explains why after a blizzard shut down much of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in 2016, bringing road traffic to a halt, Gale still found a way to get to the emergency room for his scheduled shift at the nearby Aurora Medical Center – he strapped on a set of skis and skied to work. He says it was either that or trudging more than a mile through snow up to his knees.
Word of his dedication that day, fueled by a few shared pictures of Gale and his skis, resulted in a local media station spotlighting Gale’s dedication to serving his patients even amid a blizzard. The story caught the attention of media outlets nationwide.
One media outlet wrote:
His patients may never have known his dedication to get to work that morning if not for the one thing he left at home.
“Actually forgot to bring an extra set of boots when I got here, so I had to wear my ski boots around for half the day until everything was plowed out and my family dropped off a pair of regular shoes for me,” says Gale.
While it’s not ideal, the skiing doctor said he’d do it again in the next big storm, just to make sure his patients are taken care of and his fellow physicians get a break.
Gale’s journey toward becoming a physician started at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he studied biology.
It was around this time that he picked up an old hobby, playing the mandolin. It’s a family tradition to play the mandolin, a stringed musical instrument in the lute family. Gale grew up playing it at local square dances, he says.
This time, however, he wasn’t playing for square dance crowds.
Gale played the mandolin for Harvard in “Don Giovani,” an opera with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte.
After earning his undergraduate degree, Gale returned to his native state of Vermont, earning his medical degree from the University of Vermont College of Medicine.
He completed one of his medical rotations in Bradford, Vermont, with Dr. Melanie Lawrence, a family friend he had known since childhood. He would later provide emergency care with Lawrence in his hometown of Newbury, also in Vermont.
Afterwards, Gale completed his residency at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Medicine and later joined BayCare Clinic Emergency Physicians. The atmosphere, variety and high-speed pace of the emergency room appeal to Gale, he says.
He prioritizes listening to and engaging with his patients.
“We tend to see people on some of the worst days of their lives and they are usually understandably anxious, afraid, and often in significant pain, so I try to sit down in the room with them and listen as best as I can when they first come in,” he says. “I find that trying to enter into the room judgement free and hearing what the person is telling you is the best way to meet the patient and go from there.”
Outside of the ER, Gale enjoys spending time with his two children and wife. And he’s picked up a new hobby.
“My wife grew up sailing in Wisconsin her whole life and I didn’t, with growing up on a mountain in Vermont. I’ve tried to pick up her hobby, so I sail in the summers on a little single-handed boat called a Laser and I’ve gotten very good at tipping it over and getting it back up again.”
In the winter, he can be found skiing – of course.