Not Your Average Headache Doctor: Jack Schim, MD

jack schim md

Dr. Schim begins his days a bit differently than the rest of us.  He arises well before the sun is up, collects his board and wet suit and drives a short distance to one of his favorite spots along the North County coast to check out the conditions.  If the waves are hitting, he zips up his suit, ducks below the slap of that first cold wave, paddles out and gets in a session before showering off and donning his usual work outfit - aloha shirt, jeans or casual slacks - to begin seeing patients (the white coat evident in this photograph is as much an anomaly as snowfall in San Diego). If the waves are blown out, he instead may unpack a camera and take some photographs of the ocean and coastline as they emerge in the first light of day.

Jack already was an avid surfer when he moved from Miami to California decades ago, but the bug really bit when he exchanged the meager offerings of South Beach for the more challenging swells that roll in at Swami’s, San Onofre and a dozen other breaks that lie within a short drive of his home in Encinitas.


He rarely misses a day, and he supplements his usual routine on the waves at home with surf trips to Mexico, Central America, Fiji and other far-flung locales. His routine was interrupted a few years back by a serious spinal injury he sustained when another surfer fell on him, breaking his neck. After spinal fusion surgery and a prolonged period of recovery, he returned to the waves. His only modification: he tends to avoid crowded breaks, choosing instead the early morning hours when he has the waves to himself.

Jack obtained his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Miami (focusing on ceramics and photography) and then completed medical school at the University of California San Diego, an internship at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles and a neurology residency at the University of California San Diego. He is the co-founder and codirector of the highly regarded Headache Center of Southern California located in North County/greater San Diego.

A highly respected clinician, educator and clinical research investigator, an accomplished ceramic artist and photographer, a longstanding virtuoso in medical and non-medical computer applications…and a superb surfer, Dr. Schim’s eclectic talents could make him a target of malicious envy were it not for the fact he is a soft-spoken, laid-back surfer doc who avoids self-promotion and is universally regarded by those lucky enough to know him to be a kind and generous friend.

Go to to view Jack’s compelling wave photography. 

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