Son follows his father’s footsteps into Carmel’s ENT practice


Dr. Stephen Freeman spent more than 30 years developing his ear, nose and throat practice, with a concentration on treating patients that have cancer in the head and neck region.

His son, Dr. Zane Freeman, took over the practice in Carmel when the elder Freeman partially retired in January. Zane was finishing his residency at Tulane University in New Orleans. As Father’s Day nears, it’s been a special gift to Freeman to see his son take over the practice. Freeman and his son both live in Carmel.

“I can still work one week of the month and I can still work cases with my son when it’s an appropriate case or when he’d like me there,” Freeman said. “It’s been a tremendous feeling to watch him take over. The neat thing about it is a lot of these long-term cancer patients and their families, when I told them that I was retiring they were kind of distraught. Then when I told them my son was taking over the practice, they were excited they would continue to see Dr. Freeman. I was excited because I could look at his schedule and keep track of those patients and see how they are doing. It was a good handoff.”

His son Zane, 33, agreed it has been a great transition. The Freemans’ clinic is at 12288A N. Meridian St., Suite 375, in Carmel. It is part of Ascension Medical Group.

Freeman, 68, and his wife took two months during the winter to go to Florida while his son became acclimated to the practice.

“He could find his path and not be in my shadow and get himself established,” said Freeman, who would like to take another two months off in January 2024 to spend more time in Florida.

Zane had an internship in neurosurgery at Tulane University in New Orleans and originally planned to go into that field.

“An ENT spot opened up in the program, so I jumped on that,” he said.

Zane said the first time he went in the operating room with his father was when he was 16 or 17.

“It was cool to see your dad take apart someone’s neck and jaw and then put it all back together in a two-hour surgery,” Zane said. “Throughout college, I was shadowing him again and ended up at Marian University’s medical school. I ended up doing my rotations in the same hospital as him.”

The elder Freeman attended Purdue University and medical school at Indiana University. He then spent 10 years in the U.S. Navy where he completed his residency in otolaryngology in Oakland.

Freeman did a fellowship with Dr. Ronald Hamaker in 1985 for one year.

“He was one of the leaders worldwide in innovation in a lot of surgical procedures, so it was an incredible experience,” Freeman said.

After leaving the Navy in 1990, Freeman took an academic position at the University of Tennessee in Memphis but left after a year because of the department’s financial troubles. He came back to Indianapolis in 1991 and joined Dr. Hammer’s practice.

“Since the practice has evolved, we have seven doctors and three PAs (physician assistants),” Freeman said. “The major focus is head and neck cancer, but we do most aspects of ENT. It’s been a long journey. I’ve been fortunate to have the teaching I got in the early years and the privilege I got of taking care of a lot of cancer patients over the last 35 to 40 years. Cancer patients are kind of unique because it’s a very devastating disease of the head and neck. It requires a lot of aggressive treatment that changes a lot of their appearance and ability to function, so they need a lot of support. You get to know them very well and you get involved with them long term.”

Zane said his father has been treating some patients for 20 years.

“They insist on seeing me just because of who he is,” Zane said.