A photo of a child wearing an adult-size stethoscope decorates the Pepper household.
It is a photo of M. Elizabeth Pepper -- now 36 -- as a child wearing her father's stethoscope. It is also the photo that Dr. Pepper said her father felt was an indication that she would become a doctor.
"He said he knew from that moment, I was going to be a doctor. I didn't know it until I was in college," she recalled.
As a family doctor himself, L. Douglas Pepper may have just been hoping for another doctor in the family, his daughter said.
"I thought I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher because I loved kids," Dr. Elizabeth Pepper said.
It might not seem so unusual that the daughter of a doctor with a thriving family practice and a registered nurse in that same practice would end up working with family, but for Dr. Elizabeth Pepper, it was a surprise.
"I just never thought of myself as a family doctor. Even when I decided to become a doctor, I thought I would be a pediatrician," she said.
That all changed when she started doing her rounds in medical school. Dr. Elizabeth Pepper soon realized she enjoyed her conversations with older patients.
"Sure, the kids were cute, but I wasn't having the same types of conversations with them," she said. "If a patient came in with a sinus infection, I would end up talking about other things with them and I enjoyed that interaction," she said.
Dr. Douglas Pepper, 64, said he encouraged his daughter to try family medicine early on.
"When Elizabeth was in medical school, I told her to just take one course in family medicine and give it a try," he recalled.
Even though Dr. Elizabeth Pepper did follow her father's footsteps, it wasn't obvious the two would practice together.
Dr. Douglas Pepper said he had a thriving practice in McKeesport until the mid-1980s when the steel industry collapsed.
"I knew that would affect my practice and my dad told me to look at practicing in Belle Vernon," he said. He and his wife, Maria, a registered nurse, ended up moving to the small town where he rented space from a well-established doctor, Victor Bair.
"The patients weren't amused when this young kid came in after they had been used to this giant of a man," Dr. Douglas Pepper said of the late physician.
Dr. Douglas Pepper went on to eventually establish his own practice and Dr. Bair retired.
After long days, Dr. Douglas Pepper said his wife suggested he take on a partner.
"I told her, 'Maria, the only partner that I would take on is one with the same last name as mine,' " he recalled.
That happened eight years ago.
While doing her residency at Excela Hospital in Latrobe, a doctor there suggested to Elizabeth Pepper that she look at practicing with her father.
"He said if you don't try it, you will always wonder if you should have," she said.
The Peppers' father and daughter practice is in Belle Vernon and they work with Monongahela Valley Hospital. While there were some "rocky moments in the first six months," as Dr. Elizabeth Pepper described them, they said they love working together.
"It took us a while to work out the schedules and hours, but it worked out," she said.
Dr. Elizabeth Pepper said it also took some of the patients a while to get used to her.
"I had to realize that when they said it was 'cute' that I was practicing with my dad, they didn't mean it in a demeaning way," she said.
Dr. Douglas Pepper said the best part of working with his daughter is the comments from patients.
"It's wonderful when I see a patient she has treated and they tell me how compassionate and how caring she is," he said. "It is very fulfilling to hear."
Dr. Elizabeth Pepper said for her, it is "really cool" when her dad consults with her.
"He will tell me that he needs me for a minute for a quick consult and I am just so happy," she said. "I know I have big shoes to fill, but it is great."
For Father's Day on Sunday, the Peppers -- if not on call -- will try to participate in a father-child golf outing at Nemacolin Woodlands.
"We aren't good enough to win, but dad says playing together on that day means more to him than any present that I could buy," Dr. Elizabeth Pepper said.
The Peppers aren't the only parent-child doctors who practice at Monongahela Valley Hospital. Abdul S. Chaudry, 73, also practices with his son, Adil Chaudry, 35. The two doctors serve on the medical staff of the medical imaging department.
Like the Peppers, the two didn't think they would be practicing together.
The younger Dr. Chaudry was practicing in California when his father first brought up the idea of working together.
"I always had an interest in medicine because both my mom and dad are doctors, but I didn't think I would work with my dad," he said.
When Dr. Abdul Chaudry's partner decided to retire, he asked his son to think about joining him.
"It makes the job a lot easier when you have someone you trust working with you," Dr. Abdul Chaudry said. Dr. Adil Chaudry joined his father in 2009.
"I gave up really great weather to work with him," Dr. Adil Chaudry said.
Dr. Abdul Chaudry said he learns a lot from his son, especially when it comes to technology. "He knows the latest technology and I can really learn from him," he said.
Dr. Adil Chaudry said he has learned from his dad's compassionate manner with his patients. "He is so caring. He is just an easy-going guy and I see how he gives his patients advice," he said.
It is a relationship that works for both doctors.
Despite the Pennsylvania winters, Dr. Adil Chaudry is glad he made the move.
"This is someone that I have looked up to all of my life and now I look to him for advice at work," he said.
On Sunday, the Chaudrys are planning a family brunch, but the elder Dr. Chaudry will be on call.
Family relationships, such as the Peppers and the Chaudrys, are valued by the hospital.
"Dr. Abdul Chaudry and Dr. Douglas Pepper are great role models for their children as well as for all new physicians," said Patrick Alberts, the chief operating officer.
"Dr. Adil Chaudry and Dr. Elizabeth Pepper have witnessed their fathers' fundamental respect for their profession and for their patients, and these two fine physicians are carrying on the tradition of providing exemplary patient care," Mr. Alberts said.
Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: email@example.com.