Dr. Rick Chac, an OBGYN affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, does amazing things every day. He delivers babies, which is — without question — pretty amazing. He also counsels women through the many milestones of their lives with the sensitivity of a man raised by an amazing woman along with three equally amazing sisters.
A recent amazing experience, however, was unlike any other: He was a contestant on the CBS reality television show, "The Amazing Race."
Dr. Chac and his wife, Cindy, were one of 11 pairs chosen to participate in the Emmy Award-winning series that pits teams against each other on a fast-paced trek around the world. He recently shared how he came to be on the show, and how his experiences in the race and in his practice relate to one another.
What inspired you to apply to be a contestant on "The Amazing Race"?
I've always been a fan. I started watching the show in college and continued to watch it during medical school and my residency. I love to travel and couldn't help but say to myself, "I could do that," when watching the participants compete on the show. When I finally met my wife, Cindy, I instantly knew that we should apply.
What did you learn by competing in "The Amazing Race"?
The race was an absolutely amazing experience. There simply is no better word to describe it. I've learned to trust my instincts, enjoy the unknown and allow myself to experience the world as it comes. Most importantly, I learned just how much I love my wife and that I couldn't have picked a better partner for the race and for life.
Did being a doctor help your performance?
Being a doctor was definitely an asset on the race. I'm used to sleeping very few hours (or not sleeping), a high level of stress each day and a busy schedule that keeps me running. Having the basic knowledge of science and mathematics certainly helped, too.
What do you think are your greatest strengths on the show?
I think one of my strongest suits is being able to stay calm under pressure. On the race, there are countless times in which the stress level was through the roof. It was important for us to stay cool, calm and collected, and to work as a team. If I had to think of one other strength, it would be my knowledge of anatomy. Tune in and you'll see what I mean.
How did participating in the race make you a better health care provider?
The race is a completely different animal than my day-to-day practice of medicine. In obstetrics and gynecology, we leave nothing to chance, and have things planned out far in advance. The race is one of unknowns and surprises. It taught me to be more patient when things are not set in place, and to trust my skills to handle each situation as it comes. In medicine, especially in obstetrics, emergencies can happen in seconds. It's important to have the training and expertise to handle a critical situation with composure, precision and, of course, compassion.