Meet the newest Dr. Buchfuhrer

August 18, 2021 The Buchfuhrers — Celebrating Father’s Day as Doctor Team By Rich Archbold When Julia Buchfuhrer was growing up, she ...

August 18, 2021

The Buchfuhrers — Celebrating Father’s Day as Doctor Team
By Rich Archbold

When Julia Buchfuhrer was growing up, she had a special bond with her father, Mark Buchfuhrer, but, hard as he tried, he could not persuade her to become a doctor like he was.

‘No way, no way,” she told her dad. She was interested in other things, like maybe being a marine biologist. But her dad persisted.

He finally got his wish when his daughter decided to go to medical school and become a doctor, but that wasn’t the end of the story. Julia Buchfuhrer graduated from med school at Western University of Health Sciences, did her residency at UC Irvine and is finishing her fellowship training at the University of Arizona this month to become a specialist in rheumatology.

She then had to make another big decision: Where to work after finishing her fellowship training? She decided to open up her own practice in Downey next month with — guess who — her father, who has been a doctor for almost 40 years and is nationally known for his work with restless legs syndrome.

Julia Buchfuhrer will open the JB Arthritis and Rheumatology Center at her father’s office, 11480 Brookshire Ave., in Downey.

“I am extremely excited to be working side by side with my father,” she said in an interview at his house on the east side of Long Beach last week.

“It’s the best Father’s Day present I could get,” her father said. “She is going to do great work and help a lot of people.”

Julia Buchfuhrer will be the third doctor in her family. Her mother, Laurie Buchfuhrer, practiced family medicine and was an addiction medicine specialist. She worked at Kaiser Permanente and Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. She got leukemia, though, when her daughter was 6 and retired early. Julia Buchfuhrer said her mom would always tell her to select a career she would enjoy.

“I think she was secretly proud that I followed in her footsteps,” Julia Buchfuhrer said. “When I made the Dean’s list in medical school, she told me how proud she was that I was doing medicine and doing it so well.”

Julia Buchfuhrer said she can’t wait to start working with her father. “I have so much respect for him and what he has done in his career,” she said. “I will be learning so much from him.”

Her father, though, sees it as a two-way street. “We will be learning from each other,” he said, sitting next to her in his home.

Mark Buchfuhrer was born on July 11, 1952, in Montreal, Canada. His parents were survivors of the Holocaust. His father, Norbert Buchfuhrer, was born in Poland and was a teenager when the Nazis sent him to a concentration camp in Warsaw. He escaped when he was 22 when he got on Oskar Schindler’s now-famed list. Schindler was a German businessman who saved more than a thousand Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War II.

Mark Buchfuhrer’s mother, Rose Katz, meanwhile, spent a year in a concentration camp in Hungary at the end of World War II and was saved. She met Norbert Buchfuhrer, her husband-to-be, on a boat going to Canada. She was a cashier in a hat design company in Hungary, but when she was asked her job skill in Canada, she said she was a hat designer — even though she had never actually designed hats, her son said. “But it turned out she had a skill in hat design and became very well known for her hat designs,” he said. She and her husband married in 1948 and had two children, Mark and his sister, Stephanie, who lives in Montreal.

Norbert Buchfuhrer died when he was 73, his wife died when she was 93.

“My mother used to tell me, ‘I’m going to live a long life to show you that you can, too,’” her son said. In high school, Mark Buchfuhrer said he wanted to be a scientist. “But my mother kept telling me to be a doctor, a doctor, a doctor. She said I could be successful as a doctor and take that skill anywhere and not be restricted to one place. She told me that 10,000 times.”

He finally listened and went to medical school at the University of Ottawa, graduating in 1977 and becoming the first in his family to become a doctor. He became a specialist in pulmonary medicine, treating diseases of the respiratory system. “My mom was overjoyed,” he said. He did his residency in Toronto where he met his wife-to-be, who was in her fourth year at medical school. They got married on June 22, 1980. They spent their honeymoon on an eight-day drive from Toronto to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, where Mark had a fellowship in pulmonary medicine.

The couple spent a weekend in Seal Beach and liked the area so much they decided to live in Long Beach; they bought a condo in Marina Pacifica in Long Beach before buying a house on the east side near Long Beach State University, where they have lived for 37 years.

They have three children: David Buchfuhrer, 37, a software engineer; Michael Buchfuhrer, 35, a business owner; and Julia Buchfuhrer, 32. Mark Buchfuhrer was on the attending staff at various places, including Stanford University Medical Center, Harbor City; Downey Community Hospital (now PIH Health, Downey); USC Medical Center, Long Beach Community Hospital, and Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles. He opened up his private practice in Downey in 2001 with his office now at 11480 Brookshire Ave. He became an expert, one of the few in the United States, in treating restless legs syndrome, which is a disorder causing pain and sleepless nights. The primary symptom of RLS, he said, is an urge to move one’s legs when trying to rest or relax. “This urge is often so compelling that RLS sufferers may have to walk, shake their legs, ride a bicycle, massage their legs, or stretch to alleviate their discomfort,” he wrote in a clinician’s manual on RLS. He has become beloved by his patients. “There isn’t a week that goes by without a patient telling me how my treatment has saved or changed their life,” he said.

Meanwhile, his sons and daughter were growing up. Julia Buchfuhrer graduated from Hill Middle School, which has since been converted to the Sato Academy of Math and Science, before attending Poly High School where she became an outstanding student. In eighth grade, she won first place in the Press-Telegram Halloween Scary Story Contest.

She also became an excellent soccer player and was a member of the Belmont Shore Women’s Rugby team. “I got injured a lot playing rugby, but that’s where I saw how doctors could help people get better,” she said. “I liked the idea of helping people medically.”

She also became a huge fan of bike riding, which her father also liked. “We cycled together all the time,” she said. “We rode with a group in Irvine called the Orange County Rebel Riders. “We went on mountain rides and on past Father’s Days, we would go cycling for miles and come home for a family get-together.”

Julia Buchfuhrer had a scare one time when her bike hit a rock on an 8- mile trail in Rock Creek, 30 miles south of Mammoth Lakes. “I got thrown off my bike and suffered a nasty gash in my forehead,” she said. “Blood was gushing all over. Vultures were even circling in the sky. My dad bandaged me up, and hikers came by who helped us.” She still has a visible scar above her left eye.

And when she was 30, she got breast cancer, and she had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. But she is a fighter. “The hardest part was enduring three-to-four months of chemotherapy, but I missed only two-to-three days of training,” she said.

Julia Buchfuhrer said she loves doing things with her father and listening to him tell stories. “He is a great storyteller. We have become great friends.”

“She’s my buddy,” her father said, putting his arm around her. “I’m so happy she’s here for Father’s Day.”

Julia Buchfuhrer said she will fly back to Arizona this afternoon, Sunday, June 20, to finish her medical training and won’t have time to do her traditional Father’s Day bike ride with her dad. But she will celebrate Father’s Day at a family get-together.

She is also already planning a few weekend trips to Mammoth Lakes in August to hike and make up for some lost bike rides. “Since we are both our own bosses, we can schedule as many of these trips together as we like,” she said with a grin.

Reprinted with permission from Rich Archbold, Press-Telegram. All rights reserved. Visit for more information. buchfuhrers-celebrating-fathers-day-as-doctor-team/

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