Merlin and Jake Hamer

Meet the MD's Who Followed in Their Father's Footsteps

If asked about his accomplishments during a medical career that has spanned four decades, orthopedic surgeon Merlin Hamer, MD, could talk at length about the rewards that come with performing life-changing hand surgeries or conducting research that has the potential to produce better, safer treatment options. He could also describe the satisfaction derived from working shoulder-to-shoulder with colleagues who care deeply about practicing first-class, high quality medicine.

But the answer you’re most likely to get is this: “The greatest thing about my job is getting to work with my son.”

Following closely in his father’s footsteps, Jake Hamer, MD, joined Scripps Clinic’s division of orthopedic surgery as a hand surgeon in September 2008. Together, the father-son team surgically treats patients who have traumatic hand injuries, congenital deformities, or problems resulting from medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or carpal-tunnel syndrome.

Jake got his first glimpse at what it would be like to practice medicine when, as a child, he accompanied his father during patient rounds at the hospital. And as the only boy in a close-knit family of seven children, he says he and his father naturally became close.

“Part of the reason I came to Scripps Clinic after finishing my fellowship was because I wanted the opportunity to work with my dad,” he said.

Although Merlin jokes that his son shows him the “new” way to do things and he in turn shows Jake the “right” way to do things, they both agree that they have a unique opportunity to learn from each other.

Despite working side-by-side several days a week, father and son spend time together outside of the office, including the Hamer family’s annual summer vacation in Lake Tahoe and weekly Sunday get-togethers that have grown to include 11 grandchildren.

“I’m definitely a proud father,” said Dr. Hamer, Sr. “Not many people are able to work alongside their child, doing a job they love. Working with my son is the best thing in the world.”