Like Mother, Like Doctor: Dr. Dinger and Nurse Nelda Talk About Mother-Daughter Relationship

Blog by Erin Kirwan for Advanced Allergy

There is something special about the mother-daughter relationship. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the connection comes easy. It is enriching. For Dr. Patricia Dinger, Founder of Advanced Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, and her mother, Nelda Gomez, it is both easy and enriching. And healthy. Which is all very important for this mother and daughter. Not just because of their family values. But because business for this doctor and nurse depends on it.

Nelda is not only Dr. Dinger’s mom, she’s her shot nurse and has been since Dr. Dinger started her practice over seven years ago.

I had the opportunity recently to sit down with Dr. Dinger and Nurse Nelda to learn more about this unique family-work dynamic. Here is a good portion of our conversation.

Erin: Let’s start at the beginning. What’s one of your earliest memories of your mom?

Dr. Dinger: Oh, I think that would be laying down to sleep with my mom as a young child. I remember thinking that when I awoke she would be gone for work (as a nurse) so I would wrap my legs around my mom like a pretzel and ask her if she could get out of my tight hold. If she could break away I would hold on tighter and tighter.

Erin (to Nelda): When Patricia was young, did you ever think she might grow up to study medicine?

Nelda: Oh, yes. I think so. When she was in preschool she said she wanted to become a doctor when she grew up. Also, Patricia always accomplished what she set out to do. She had perfect attendance in school. It was very important to Patricia that she make all A’s in school too.

Erin: Did she?

Nelda: She made all A’s all the way through elementary, middle, and high school. She got one B in the final nine weeks of her senior year in high school. (Smiles). Patricia has always been self confident and self-directed. I never had to say, ‘Do your homework’. If Patricia set out to do something, she would get it done and done well.

Erin: Dr. Dinger, what role did your mom play, if any, in your decision to pursue medicine?

Dr. Dinger: My mom’s influence was huge! When I was very young she was a nurse in the ER and as such would often work weekends. My dad would take me to have lunch with her and so we would eat in the physician’s lounge. I can remember her telling me about her day and the patients she would help. I loved hearing about her job and watching all the nurses and doctors in the lounge.

Erin: What’s it like working with your mom?

Dr. Dinger: My mom has been with me on the job since day one here at Advanced Allergy. I knew I’d be starting from scratch. So I told my mom I needed her help. Being the selfless person that she is, my mom was happy to help. I want to say I probably did not pay her much at first. That’s who she is. She would do anything for her family.

Erin: Nelda, is that true? Do you remember when Patricia asked you to join her at her practice?

Nelda: Oh yes. But I remember a conversation we had many, many years before, when Patricia was little. And I have never forgotten it! When Patricia was old enough to have an idea that she wanted to be a doctor I told her, ‘When you grow up and become a doctor you’re going to hire me and pay me a lot and I will work very little‘ (laughs).

That’s exactly what she did. (laughs again).

Erin: Are the two of you pretty similar?

Dr. Dinger: I think so. I hope so. Let me see if I can say this without crying. My mom has been a true role model. She is the mom I try to be with my own four children. She is always so giving of herself. Of her time. And so much love. She loves us so much. She is supportive no matter what. (crying).

Erin: You’re crying. It touches you that much.

Dr. Dinger: Yes.

Erin: Nelda, are you and Patricia more a alike or different?

Nelda: I think we’re more alike than not. We’re compatible. We both have the same taste. We love time at the ranch. We love to shop. We love to spend money. (laughs). We love to just sit around with all the kids and enjoy each other’s company.

Erin: What advice would you give to another mother-daughter working team?

Nelda: Know your place. Respect your boss, especially if she’s your daughter (laughs).

It is extremely rewarding to work with your daughter. I watch how Patricia interacts with patients. I see her compassion. I get to hear patients tell me how much better they finally feel thanks to Patricia. I am very proud.

Dr. Dinger: I would say do it (working with mom). It is great because our lives can be so busy and this assures that we will see each other a lot. There will not be a better employee than someone who wants nothing more than to see her daughter succeed. Plus, the staff and our patients love my mom. When she’s not at clinic everyone asks, ‘Where’s Nelda’.

Erin: Last question. What trait do you think you got from your mom? What trait do you wish you’d had received?

Dr. Dinger: I’d like to think that I’ve gotten my sense of compassion from my mom. Being a hands-on mom, for sure. We both value family. I wish I had gotten her cooking skills! She’s the best cook!

Erin: What’s one of her best dishes?

Dr. Dinger: Oh my gosh. Everything. Enchiladas and homemade tortillas! Oh, they’re so delicious. That is something I constantly say – that I will work on learning more of my mom’s recipes.

Dr. Dinger and friends cooking enchiladas with Nelda at Christmas

Erin: Thank you, Dr. Dinger, Nelda, for sharing a part of your relationship with us.

Nelda says she plans to continue working by her daughter’s side until she’s no longer able to. In other words, for many, many years to come.

Erin Kirwan is a former broadcast journalist and Founder of Savvy Media PR. She shares patient stories, helpful news and information for Advanced Allergy.

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