Live & Practice: Sports Towns 2020

By Liz Funk | Fall 2020 | Live & Practice


After finishing undergrad at Harvard, Chris Lewis, M.D., returned to his hometown of Cincinnati—and chose to stay for his career. – Photo by David Stephen Kalonick

In some areas of the country, sports are so embedded in the local culture that they practically become part of day-to-day life. Ask any Dallas resident, and they’ll tell you the Cowboys are widely loved, regardless if they have won or whether one truly follows the sport. In State College, Pennsylvania, Penn State alumni return to campus to see their Big 10 teams compete. In Anaheim, California, locals can root for minor league teams—or join in the Lakers mania in nearby Los Angeles. And Cincinnati’s baseball team, endearingly referred to as “the Reds,” is the only MLB team that, as a rule, has their first game of the season at home, making for a full day (and evening) of team spirit and celebration.

State College, Pennsylvania

State College is nestled in a valley surrounded by beautiful central Pennsylvania mountain ranges. While the scenery is bucolic, State College can be an action-packed place to be. It’s home to the flagship campus of Penn State University, with nearly 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The Penn State community is devoted to the university football team, and football season is practically synonymous with fall. Penn State is a “Big 10” school that competes with sports teams at other large universities like the University of Michigan, The Ohio State University and Northwestern University.

Christopher Hester, M.D., heeded an early calling to internal medicine. “I realized that I wanted to be a physician in high school. My family physician was an older provider that had cared for members of my family since my mother was a child. Everyone in my family trusted our physician’s medical judgment. I hoped that patients would trust me some day the way my family trusted our family physician,” he says.

Hester attended Penn State College of Medicine at the Hershey Medical Center, an academic medical center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, near the state capital of Harrisburg. The environment clicked for Hester and he continued at Hershey Medical Center for his internship and then residency training.

“I interviewed with a group in the area and was amazed by the level of talent of the providers in the group and by their strong reputation among my training physicians at the Hershey Medical Center,” Hester says. He’s nearing his 25th year with Mount Nittany Physician Group.

Mount Nittany Health can trace its roots back to 1902 and is now one of the predominant health care providers in central Pennsylvania.

Says Nichole Monica, director of marketing and communications for Mount Nittany Health: “We have more than 18 Mount Nittany Health locations–with 16 Mount Nittany Physician Group locations–in six counties.” Mount Nittany Health employs more than 2,800 people. Mount Nittany Health operates Mount Nittany Medical Center, a 260-bed hospital in State College.

“As the area’s largest multispecialty group [Mount Nittany Physicians Group], our more than 170 providers serve nearly 100,000 patients each year, offering primary and specialty care services at a growing number of offices throughout central Pennsylvania,” says Monica.

Hester’s long tenure at Mount Nittany speaks volumes to its culture. Says Hester, “I still work with many of the same people since my first day nearly 24 years ago. …The providers, nurses, front desk staff and administrators I work with at Mount Nittany Physician Group are excellent and are committed to providing the highest quality care.”

Other opportunities in the area can be found at outpatient clinic Geisinger – Patton Forest and SunPointe Health, a physician-owned internal medicine practice in the area.

Outside of work, “Happy Valley” has lots to offer, particularly when it comes to special events and outdoor activities. Says Edward Stoddard, communications director for the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, “We have all the excitement, opportunities and culture of a small city, plus small town roots. You can enjoy reasonably priced fine dining with a spectacular valley view or a pleasant drive among rural fields—20 minutes from downtown State College.”

Stoddard emphasizes that State College’s appeal is in its dichotomies. “One of our strengths here is all of the outdoor opportunities located nearby the urban mix of Penn State University. Spend the weekend enjoying nightlife, a concert and shops, or drive 10 minutes, hike for 30 minutes and escape every sound of civilization.”

Hester appreciates the local access to the outdoors and top-notch sports. “I most enjoy the outdoor activities including mountain biking at Tussey Mountain, boating at nearby Raystown Lake and sporting events at Penn State.”

“Whatever one’s definition of adventure is, we believe it can be found here,” says Stoddard.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati is a special place. It is a midwestern, medium-sized city with a lot of local pride. And there is a lot of be proud of. The people of Cincinnati played a large role in the abolition of slavery with a number of “stops” on the Underground Railroad. Today, local museums and exhibitions celebrate and preserve Cincinnati’s social justice roots. Another source of great pride is the city’s predominant health care system, UC Health (University of Cincinnati Health). With a diverse patient population and a system-wide focus on community health, UC Health is a place for physicians to marry their medical expertise with a passion for improving the overall health of their city and its residents.

Chris Lewis, M.D., began his medical career at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. It was an easy choice: His mother worked at the university, and family members were eligible for full tuition remission. Lewis was a biology and pre-med undergraduate at Harvard University, and he liked living in Boston. “My initial plan was that I would go back to the East Coast after medical school,” says Lewis. “But I fell in love with the health care industry in Cincinnati. We have a plethora of hospitals and doctors. In Cincinnati, we have a fairly sizable equity gap in terms of who gets access to health care. What I love about Cincinnati is that we have a whole bunch of people closing those gaps.”

Solving that challenge and working with passionate people eclipsed the allure of going back to Boston. “It seemed wrong to take my medical education and go back to Boston when there was so much that could be done here,” says Lewis. This decision was spot-on foreshadowing for Lewis’ activism at the intersection of health care and social justice.

Lewis stayed on at UC Health—the health system anchored by the University of Cincinnati Medical Center—for his residency, then joined a family medicine practice and firmly put down roots in Cincinnati. “It’s a fantastic place to live and work,” he says. “We have world-class industry. We have arts, ballet, symphony, soccer, baseball and football. We have a downtown area that is undergoing a real resurgence. My wife and I are foodies, and we can’t keep up with the restaurants on every corner.”

Indeed, food, history and sports are important parts of Cincinnati’s culture. Says Jenell Walton, director of strategic initiatives for the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau, “We have a sort of big city/small town feel. Here, we have Fortune 500 company headquarters, world-class arts and culture experiences, big league sports, historic architecture and an incredibly unique culinary scene.” The Cincinnati region is home to 2.2 million people, while the city of Cincinnati itself represents just over 300,000.

The Cincinnati Reds is the city’s beloved baseball team. “Reds Opening Day in Cincinnati has been a special tradition, and an unofficial holiday, for a century and a half,” says Walton. “There are several local parties throughout downtown Cincinnati, especially near the Banks Entertainment District near the ballpark, that keep the celebration going all day and night,” says Walton.

Lewis returned to UC Health as a practicing family physician and took on an academic role as the assistant dean of diversity and inclusion. “The College of Medicine puts a huge emphasis on diversity and inclusion. They are great about giving money for scholarships for health care students of diverse backgrounds,” says Lewis.

What Lewis is perhaps most known for at UC Health is his work on the Village Life Outreach Project, a non-profit organization he founded that organizes volunteering in Tanzania and bringing Tanzanian teachings and wisdom back to Cincinnati.

Lewis still sees patients one day a week, but most of his time is devoted to his role as vice provost for undergraduate programs at the University of Cincinnati. “I started as the assistant dean of Diversity and Inclusion. I wouldn’t have made it through medical school without the people who started that office, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. I needed support and guidance and some handholding as a medical student. When I was given an opportunity to join that same office, it was a no-brainer. Then I got the academic bug.” He pivoted into higher education administration.

Lewis has advice for medical students to feel supported on their path: seek mentors. Says Lewis, “I encourage students to develop a network of mentors, and to pursue a step beyond mentors, which are sponsors. Mentors are people who will give you advice and be sounding boards. A sponsor is someone who is willing to stick their neck out for you. Every amount of career success I’ve experienced has been attributed to a mentor, group of mentors or sponsors.” This ethos of creating an interdependent community of people who give and share seems influenced by the generous culture of Tanzania, and is also highly useful career advice.

Dallas, Texas

With a home base in Dallas, James Pinckney, M.D., started a medical concierge company to provide patients direct physician access and upscale care. – Photo by Kelly Williams

Dallas, Texas, comes with a lot of preconceived notions about what it’s like to live there: There are cowboys (the people), the Cowboys (the team), and everything is “Dallas big.” Dallas is indeed big; it’s the ninth largest American city with a population of 1.4 million people within the city and 6.8 million residents in the greater Dallas metro area. Dallas has a big personality, too, and for good reason: It’s a big city with a high quality of life and a low cost of living (and no state income tax!).

When James Pinckney, M.D., was a small child, he discovered a television channel that showed medical procedures, namely surgeries. He was transfixed. “My mom thought that was a little weird,” says Pinckney. But he knew he wanted to be a doctor as soon as he could operate a remote control. As he got older, he developed a special interest in anatomy and physiology that dovetailed with his passion for playing football.

Pinckney grew up in the suburbs of Dallas and was a star on his high school football team. “High school football is huge here. Like Friday Night Lights. People love coming out to support their high school football teams,” says Pinckney. Alas, he was sidelined by a sports injury; he seriously broke his leg on the field. So he headed off to college at Wake Forest University with full focus on his dual major in pre-med and biology. That focus paid off: Pinckney landed a full scholarship to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. His goal was to become a surgeon.

Pinckney had what he calls a “quarter-life crisis” during his general surgery residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “I love being in the OR, but I’m a people person,” he says. “As a surgeon, most of your time spent with your patients is when they’re half-asleep at 4 a.m. before their surgery or they’re asleep on your operating table.”

After some soul-searching, Pinckney decided to pivot into family medicine. He landed a residency with Methodist Health in Dallas, and became a board-certified family medicine provider. This proved to be a better fit, and he began to think in a bigger way about how to add more depth and meaning to the patient relationship. He wanted to make going to the doctor a better experience.

Today, Pinckney is the founder of Diamond Physicians, a primary care concierge that circumvents insurance companies by having patients pay for a membership that gives them more direct access to their doctor and an upscale patient experience. Pinckney was happy to set up shop in his hometown of Dallas: “It’s a great place to live,” he says.

“Dallas is a very user-friendly city,” says Stephanie Faulk, the director of marketing and communications for VisitDallas. “It’s easy to live here. The weather is great. We can do year-round sports, year-round growing in our gardens. There’s lots of space, and it’s affordable.”

Faulk says that one of the most important aspects of culture in Dallas is its sports teams. “Dallas is definitely a sports city. We are one of the few cities that has a team for every major league sport: hockey, baseball, the NBA, the WNBA, and of course, the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas is synonymous with the Dallas Cowboys.”

In fact, the city’s growing population called for a bigger stadium for the Cowboys. After 10 years of planning and construction, the new stadium was completed in May 2017 and can accommodate a whopping 80,000 people. “Our stadium is new enough and big enough to really make an impression. It’s an experience,” says Faulk.

For those who like to travel, Dallas is an excellent place to call home base. The Dallas-Fort Worth international airport is one of the largest airports in the country and serves as home base for American Airlines and Southwest. “We can fly anywhere direct,” says Faulk. “We can get to either coast in under four hours.”

Pinckney has been doing some traveling himself. He’s working to build out Diamond Physicians as a national brand with franchising opportunities for physicians who are entrepreneurial and passionate about the benefits of concierge medicine: less middlemen and more time with patients.

Says Pinckney, “When I see a patient, I spend, on average, an hour with that patient. The national average is seven minutes. When patients come to see me, I personally come greet them, and we sit in my office and talk. We have nice exam rooms, but they’re just for physical examinations. After I examine a patient, we will go back to my office to talk about options and treatment.”

Outside of work, Pinckney thoroughly enjoys living in Dallas. “If you want to be in the city, you can have a rich city life. If you’d rather have more space, there are many suburban areas that all have a different feel, and excellent schools,” he says. After living and practicing in a handful of other cities— Winston-Salem in North Carolina, Houston and Los Angeles— Pinckney is happy to call Dallas home and happy to call Dallas home base for his business.

Anaheim, California

When most people think of Anaheim, California, they think of Disneyland. But there are ample job opportunities beyond the mouse ears. Anaheim is approximately an hour southeast of Los Angeles, but Anaheim offers culture and industry that makes LA seem like a distant mirage.

“Anaheim is rich in many things including history, culture and activities. The city continues growing, evolving and flourishing as a dynamic destination with its own cultural footprint in the arts, cuisine, entertainment, sports, and recreation. It’s home to activities and attractions that provide residents such a unique living experience,” says Jay Burress, president and CEO of Visit Anaheim.

With a population of 333,000, Anaheim is a large city that has a small-town feel. Says Burress, “No matter where you go, you’re greeted with a smile and a warmth that’s hard to find elsewhere. Neighbors care about you, about your family and about your work.”

Center City Anaheim is a hub of activities, including a yearly Halloween parade. Anaheim’s mild to warm year-round weather is conducive to the weekly outdoor farmer’s market in Anaheim.

For visitors interested in relocating for a health care career, Anaheim has a lot to offer. There are several hospitals and health care systems that may be of interest to physicians considering a move.

Anaheim Regional Medical Center is a 233-bed facility owned by Advanced Healthcare Management Corporation (AHMC), a for-profit health care system based in Southern California.

Kaiser Permanente Orange County-Anaheim Medical Center is the largest health care provider in Anaheim and the largest employer of health care professionals in the area. It is a 484-bed facility with specialists in pulmonology, neurology, oncology and obstetrics.

For Anaheim-based physicians, there is no shortage of things to do during their off time, especially if sports are of interest. Anaheim is the proud home of both the Los Angeles Angels (MLB) and the Anaheim Ducks (NHL). The Angel Stadium of Anaheim and the Honda Center are across the street from each other. Not only can you catch a game all year round, you might even score a doubleheader when the seasons overlap in April, May and October.

Burress has a “pro tip” for those who want to watch the game from the comfort of a restaurant or sports bar: Many of the breweries, bars and restaurants near “Platinum Triangle,” the sports district, will comp your parking during the game, so head out early for a pregame celebration.

“Whether you come for work or play, choose your own sun-soaked Southern California adventure,” says Burress. For a week’s vacation or a long, happy career in health care, you will find plenty to do in Anaheim.



Choosing the smaller side

Live & Practice

By Liz Funk | Live & Practice | Spring 2020


After 17 years of practicing in Connecticut, Stephen Siegel, M.D., moved to Boulder to take advantage of the work/ life balance and outdoor activities. - Photo by Castner Photography

After 17 years of practicing in Connecticut, Stephen Siegel, M.D., moved to Boulder to take advantage of the work/ life balance and outdoor activities. – Photo by Castner Photography

Physicians choose to practice in rural towns and small cities for myriad reasons: They prefer to live among nature, they thrive at a pace that is lively but not breakneck, or they value having ample living space to spread out. For other physicians, perhaps a dream job or family draws them in. These areas do not have the hustle and bustle that congests city life, but they do have thriving communities, diverse entertainment, dining options, and of course, patient populations that are unique and varied, which offer physicians interesting opportunities to learn and grow professionally.

Boulder, Colorado

Thirty miles north of Denver, Boulder, Colorado is a quirky haven surrounded by breathtaking mountain ranges. Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder has a population of 100,000, although that figure surges when the University of Colorado is in session. Boulder is also an interesting case study in urban planning. The city has unique zoning laws that prevent suburban sprawl around Boulder and maintain its character and strong sense of place.

Stephen Siegel, M.D., moved to Boulder in February, 2018, to practice urology at Boulder Medical Center. He previously practiced in Connecticut for 17 years, but the day-to-day life wore on him. “The commute was hard and the lifestyle was difficult,” he says. He made a cross-country move to join the team at Boulder Medical Center, where he enjoys the work/life balance he had been craving. “Boulder Medical Center is a place that understands that the lifestyle of all of its physicians and employees is important. We all work hard, but we also make time to enjoy life outside of medicine,” he says.

Patrick Menzies, CEO of Boulder Medical Center, says, “The group has a culture of work/life balance.” Boulder Medical Center sounds like an inpatient hospital, but it is not. Says Menzies, “It is a 70-year old physician-owned multispecialty practice consisting of 84 providers in 18 specialties across five outpatient clinics in the region.” There are also clinics at three hospital locations. “We are primarily an outpatient-centric organization with hospital relationships across all specialties,” says Menzies.

This unique structure is attractive to physicians as it is a “high quality collaborative clinical environment that functions much like a mini-academic setting,” says Menzies. Siegel echoes the benefits of Boulder Medical Center’s approach. “I enjoy being in a multispecialty clinic owned by the physicians. I enjoy having peers nearby to help care for my patients,” says Siegel. “I appreciate that if a patient of mine has an issue that is outside of urology that there is a primary care doctor and specialists around the corner that can help provide the assistance that is needed. I get to work with great doctors who also are great people who care about our patients.”

At Boulder Medical Center, culture is king and Menzies recruits physicians who will be a good match for the group’s balanced approach to practicing. Says Menzies, “We are not looking for candidates that want to work six to seven days a week and 12- to 15-hour days and look to earn the 90th percentile in compensation. While we do not begrudge anyone for seeking out this direction, it is simply counter to the underlying culture of the group… We are seeking people that understand and are attracted to the outdoor lifestyle and appreciate what it means to live in this incredible place inside and outside of their clinic.”

“We live in a beautiful, highly educated, engaged, innovative community, with great outdoor activities like hiking, biking, climbing, skiing, etc., and terrific weather for much of the year,” says Menzies. Boulder boasts 300 days of sunshine a year.

Thus, the people are a big part of what makes Boulder special. In 2017, National Geographic magazine named Boulder one of the happiest places to live in the world. Part of this is likely due to the athletic, health-conscious nature of the area. Says Menzies, “BMC [Boulder Medical Center] has a number of past and present elite class competitive athlete physicians. We tend to attract physicians that are seeking a healthy, active, outdoor lifestyle.”

Siegel enjoys hiking on the “innumerable” trails around the city and cycling on the bike-only paths that run all across Boulder. Says Siegel, “I like walking my dog who is welcomed and given treats at stores and restaurants around town…. The vibe of the town is one in which people have pride in where they live and are excited about all there is to do. The energy especially picks up when the [University of Colorado] college students are in town, with more lectures for the public and sporting events to attend.”

One challenge that Boulder transplants may encounter is the cost of living and competitive housing market. City planners are aware of how special their community is and they have enacted legislation that prohibits the development of suburban subdivisions and limits new building within city limits. Additionally, 1990s local lawmakers created a “green belt” of 33,000 acres of public parks that essentially enclosed the city and prevented acquisition of this land by real estate developers.

This has had the effect of preserving the intimate, low-key “vibe” that Siegel described, but it has also driven up real estate prices. People want to live in Boulder, and the intentionally limited supply and high demand puts the cost of living on par with more metropolitan areas. (The average home price in Boulder is $660,000.)

Still, those who want to relocate to Boulder make it work. Menzies says that there are a large handful of BMC physicians whose spouses work for top echelon companies with offices within commuting distance. “We tend to see physicians with family members in tech, sciences and academia due to our proximity to global companies such as Google, Amazon, Apple, Twitter, University of Colorado and a number of scientific labs,” says Menzies. Menzies is currently recruiting physicians in internal medicine, family practice, endocrinology and neurology.

Siegel is very happy that his career brought him to Boulder. “The size of Boulder is one that is big enough to provide at least one of everything. If you are looking for a specific cuisine, it is here. If you are looking for art or culture, it is here.” Red Rocks Amphitheatre, an internationally recognized outdoor performance venue, is a mere 20 miles away.

“My only complaint is that I wish I had moved here years ago,” says Siegel.

Hagerstown, Maryland

If you’re looking for a high quality of life with a hint of southern charm, look no further than Hagerstown, Maryland. With a population of 40,000, Hagerstown is the sixth largest city in Maryland. Its picturesque downtown makes for a lively gathering place for this tight-knit, quasi-southern community.

Victoria Giffi, M.D. became familiar with Meritus Medical Group when her husband took a position there a few years before Giffi finished her training. In fact, there are a number of happenstances that led Giffi to build a career as a hematology and oncology specialist.

Says Giffi, “I come from a medical family, so as a young adult, I resisted a medical career for as long as I could. My undergraduate degree is actually in music, but I quickly realized that I was not talented enough to make a career out of music. I started to volunteer at the hospital next to my college and realized that I enjoyed getting to know people and found it rewarding to help them feel better. I took a job as a phlebotomist and nurse’s aide.”

Around this time, Giffi’s father developed bladder cancer. Giffi felt the anxiety and grief common among families with a loved one battling cancer, but it was also a watershed moment for her: she was fascinated by her father’s cancer treatment. “He received one of the earliest generations of immunotherapy and was cured of his disease. The concept that putting an irritant into the bladder to cure cancer intrigued me. Having realized by this point that I liked both the social and the scientific sides of medicine, I decided to apply to medical school.”

Giffi has been deeply loyal to the University of Maryland School of Medicine, located in Baltimore. After finishing medical school, she stayed for a residency in internal medicine and a chief residency and fellowship in hematology/oncology.

When Giffi interviewed at Meritus Medical Group in Hagerstown, she clicked quickly with the oncology group. She says, “I appreciated the humor and support of my prospective colleagues, as well as what seemed like a collegial relationship with other specialists. Physicians cannot work in a bubble. No matter where you work, you have to have the ability to discuss difficult cases with those around you. The tumor board at Meritus, along with the oncology group—which is comprised of physicians of various levels of seniority—was attractive to me.”

Today, Giffi and her husband are settled in Hagerstown, where they are raising a family. Says Giffi, “I enjoy being in an area small enough to have a community feel. My children can see that their contributions can make a difference, both at school and volunteering. I enjoy having access to the outdoors and large cities at the same time.” Giffi says that, having moved from Baltimore, she has a special appreciation for the lighter traffic.

“I refer to Hagerstown as a ‘Goldilocks’ location, in that it is not too big, not too small, it is just right,” says Amy-Catherine McEwan, a physician recruiter for Meritus Health. “Hagerstown has all of the benefits of living close to major metropolitan areas without the higher costs of living. Our physicians can find anything from a Victorian farmhouse to a brand-new custom-built home at a fraction of the cost [found] in other areas of the country.”

Hagerstown is also known for its distinct architecture. Many buildings and churches were constructed with “Stonehenge Limestone,” which was readily available in nearby quarries in the 1800s. Stonehenge Limestone is unique to Maryland. According to Betsy DeVore with Visit Hagerstown, “Much of the architecture in downtown Hagerstown dates back to the pre-Civil War era and also includes some mid-century modern, as well as newer, more current designs.”

Physicians are attracted to Hagerstown often because of the cutting-edge nature of Meritus Health’s facilities. The flagship Meritus location is Meritus Medical Center, a 257-bed facility that achieved Magnet Recognition status in early 2019. While not technically an academic medical center, the Meritus Family Medicine Residency Program offers opportunities for physicians to be involved as faculty members or lecturers.

Meritus also operates dozens of outpatient facilities, with special services ranging from behavioral health to digestive health to pediatric medicine. Meritus also operates several cancer centers. McEwan is currently recruiting specialists in endocrinology, gastroenterology, internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine and psychiatry. When McEwan speaks with physician candidates about the area, she emphasizes that it’s family-friendly and replete with entertainment options.

Hagerstown has a number of popular annual events. One is “Augustoberfest,” held annually in August. Says DeVore, “The event was created to celebrate our official friendship with our sister city of Wesel, Germany. Much of the population of Hagerstown is of German descent. Authentic food, dance, music and lederhosen are features of this festival.”

Another one of the area’s most popular events is the Fort Frederick Market Fair, held annually in April at Fort Frederick, which dates back to the French and Indian War.

Perhaps the most defining aspect of practicing in Hagerstown is the kind and easygoing nature of the citizens, which in turn creates a pleasant patient population. Says Giffi, “I learn new things from my patients every single day. Sometimes it’s unrelated to medicine, like how to hunt bears, how to can peaches, and how to make kefir. Other times, they share advice to help me with potty training one of my stubborn children! Many times I am inspired by the grace and bravery with which people take bad news or make the most of every day knowing they don’t have very long.”

Regarding the practice itself, Giffi appreciates that her team has a shared affinity for getting to know patients and their families. Says Giffi, “I feel privileged to work in a place large enough to have this team, but small enough to feel like a family.”

Florence, Alabama

Florence, Alabama, is a scenic, small city in northwest Alabama that sits on the banks of the Tennessee River. This means that the area has all the amenities and charm of a southern town, plus ample water sports and outdoor activities. Florence has a historic downtown area, which hums with activity when the University of North Alabama is in session. Area physicians have the special opportunity to practice at a new medical center facility that opened in December 2018.

Nicholas Darby, M.D., has built his career around the importance of providing quality medical care to rural areas. “After graduating from college, I entered the Rural Medical Scholars Program, a program of the University of Alabama School of Medicine that allowed me to obtain a one-year Master of Science from the University of Alabama focused on Rural Community Health,” says Darby. He subsequently attended medical school at the University of Alabama. When he completed medical school, he headed about 50 miles south to Centreville, a small rural town in Alabama, to join a program called the Cahaba Family Medicine Residency Program. Darby says, “I spent about two-thirds of my time at a large federally qualified health center and the local, rural county hospital and the remaining third of my time at the large urban tertiary care centers associated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham health care system.”

When Darby finished his residency, his internal compass pointed him home: Florence, Alabama. Darby says, “As I was completing residency, I knew that I wanted to return to an area that was fairly rural and to a location where I could provide traditional outpatient and inpatient care. As I looked at several locations in my region, I found the ideal location right in my hometown of Florence, Alabama: North Alabama Medical Center.”

The facility is sparkling new. North Alabama Medical Center opened December 6, 2018, replacing Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital. North Alabama Medical Center has 263 beds and serves as the primary referral center for northwest Alabama, southern Tennessee and northeast Mississippi.

Says Tina Holt, a physician recruiter there: “North Alabama Medical Center has a very strong diverse medical staff in all specialties including but not limited to cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery, oncology and one of the best orthopedic trained groups in the United States.” With a new facility comes brand-new, often state-of-the-art equipment. Says Holt, “They have all new equipment in imaging and the surgical services to include endoscopy lab as well as cardiovascular lab. NAMC has the Stealth Navigation and O-arm for neurosurgery.”

Says Darby: “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to be one of the physicians at a very new facility with physical infrastructure that rivals any of the hospitals that I trained at in the urban tertiary setting.” The new facility has 14 operating rooms and two dedicated cardiovascular operating rooms. North Alabama Medical Center also operates 15 clinics for specialist and medical care.

Holt is currently recruiting specialists in gastroenterology, pulmonary, neurology, neurosurgery, primary care, palliative care, OB-GYN, pediatrics, endocrinology, radiology and rheumatology, as well as hospitalists. Says Holt, “Most all these positions are due to patient volume growth with the new facility being more of a tertiary center for surrounding hospitals.”

Holt says that the people of Florence are “the nicest people in the world,” which makes for an easygoing patient population and a team of employees who are friendly to newcomers (Darby has been at North Alabama Medical Center less than one year). Says Darby, “I have already quickly grown close to many of my patients. I am honored to have the opportunity to provide care to people who remind me of the great people that raised me and that I grew up around, and at times, quite literally knew me as a small child…. Equally as important, the staff and fellow physicians at both the hospital and my clinic have been superb—welcoming me right in, exemplifying an exceptional level of professional care, and creating a great environment for me to do the same.”

Darby greatly enjoys his life in Florence outside of work, too. Says Darby, “I love being outside on my kayak on one of the creeks—one runs behind my house! Some days I’m soaking up the beautiful remote nature around me and other days I’m trying to catch a trophy smallmouth or load up on redeye bass for the day. During the summer, I will enjoy riding around the lakes, proving to myself that another year has passed and I can still wakeboard and slalom ski.”

Darby and his wife also enjoy the collegiate atmosphere of downtown Florence. Says Darby, “In town, the college and historical yet trendy downtown area bring a certain unique energy to our rural community. My wife and I love to visit the University of North Alabama lion [statues], Leo and Una, together. They are where I asked her to marry me!”

Iron Mountain, Michigan

“This is a great place to raise a family,” says Adam Ryan, M.D., about Iron Mountain, Michigan. - Photo by Mark Hawkins

“This is a great place to raise a family,” says Adam Ryan, M.D., about Iron Mountain, Michigan. – Photo by Mark Hawkins

Iron Mountain is a city of approximately 8,000 located on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and hugging the Wisconsin border. Naturally, the area is a haven for outdoors enthusiasts, and sports are a big part of the culture: ice hockey, skiing, hiking and biking are popular activities. One of Iron Mountain’s most notable features is the sense of community. Because the nearest cities are either 90 miles north or 90 miles south, residents have a strong sense of kin. This makes practicing in Iron Mountain especially pleasant for physicians, giving them the opportunity for more depth in their relationships with patients and their families.

For Adam Ryan, M.D., coming to Dickinson County Healthcare System was largely about coming home. “I am originally from the upper peninsula [of Michigan] and I wanted to come back. The area is beautiful and has great schools.” One of the things Ryan appreciates most about Iron Mountain is “the schools for my kids—this is a great place to raise a family.” Ryan attended medical school at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in East Lansing, located in the center part of the state. Ryan chose to specialize in OB/GYN, as he was attracted to “the unique combination of hospital and office practice.”

Ryan’s new professional home, Dickinson County Healthcare System, is a rural, non-profit community hospital with 49 beds. Dickinson County Healthcare System offers a wide range of outpatient facilities, including primary care, family practice, podiatry, orthopedics, occupational medicine, urology, urgent care and OB/GYN.

Says Ryan, “I like that my work is a combination of primary and specialty care. Delivering babies creates a close relationship with my community.” What Ryan appreciates about his work at Dickinson County Healthcare System is the team he works with. “I most enjoy feeling like I work with a family. We have great teamwork and wonderful administrative support,” he says.

Jacki Courney, a physician recruiter at Dickinson County Healthcare System, agrees that the geniality of the people of Iron Mountain make it a special place to practice.

Says Courney, “It’s a great place to raise kids—they can still ride their bikes down the street. We have good educational systems. We turn out a lot of professionals and students have the ability to earn college credit in high school, giving them great scholarship potential.” To foster community, “there is an active young professionals group with couples and family activities,” says Courney.

Courney is currently recruiting for family practice, pediatrics, orthopedics, internal medicine, urology, emergency medicine and ENTs.

For those who embrace the rural lifestyle, Iron Mountain will not disappoint. Ryan is one of the people who thrives in a rural environment, and he keeps busy outside the hospital. “I most enjoy the outdoor activities: skiing—alpine and cross country—ice hockey, trail running, mountain biking and swimming.” Ryan and his family also enjoy biking, hiking, kayaking and camping during the warmer months. “We have four seasons of recreation.”



Live & Practice: Family-Friendly Cities Winter 2020 Issue

By Liz Funk | Live & Practice | Winter 2020


Laine Young-Walker, M.D., is anchored in Columbia, Missouri – where she completed undergrad, medical school, residency and now practices. – Photo by Scott Myers

Choosing where to practice has many factors for physicians. What are the employment opportunities like? Will your spouse be able to find a job in his or her chosen field? Is the area a match for your interests outside of work? And, for many physicians: Is the area family-friendly?

In Danville, Pennsylvania, children can grow up playing in lush, green forests. The small town of Columbia, Missouri, offers scores of entertainment options (and a highly educated populace), because the city is also home to the University of Missouri. Gainesville, Florida, residents often raise their kids to be “Gators,” and the local passion for the University of Florida sports teams creates a strong sense of community. And Naperville, Illinois, is so charming that one physician who was born and raised there moved back after deciding “Naperthrill” trumped the tropical island of Antigua, where he was studying.

Columbia, Missouri

Columbia, Missouri, is nestled in the center of Missouri, and is a hub for sports, education and medicine. The University of Missouri Health System, commonly referred to as MU Health, is an academic health system that treats patients from around the state and is a supportive employer for physicians who want to break new ground in their fields.

Laine Young-Walker, M.D., knew she wanted to be a physician since she was 8 years old. But she still faced uncertainty: how, exactly, would she make this happen? “I come from inner-city Kansas City in a household where no one had gone to college. I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t have a roadmap. I didn’t have people in my life who were doctors,” says Young-Walker.

Nevertheless, things came together. “I was put in Catholic school from the beginning. I had counselors who really helped me understand what to do and get to the next level,” says Young-Walker. As a high school student, she spent time shadowing in an OB/GYN office and had very early ideas about specializing.

At the University of Missouri, Young-Walker found a second home. As she worked on her undergraduate degree, she entered a pipeline that would prepare her for medical school admissions. “The University of Missouri had a summer program for pre-meds. You have a research mentor; you do some research and you have MCAT prep. You get to know the school better,” says Young-Walker. “I was a counselor second year. I had relationships and contacts and experiences with the medical school that were positive. MU was the only medical school I applied to. Thank God I got in.”

Young-Walker built her entire medical career at MU. From med school and residency to her work as a child psychiatrist, she is deeply loyal to MU. MU Health Care operates five hospitals, including the Missouri Orthopedic Institute, the Missouri Psychiatric Center, and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. University Hospital is the flagship hospital. Across the five hospitals, they have 602 beds. In addition, MU Health operates 50 outpatient clinics. MU Health Care employs 7,000 people, approximately 700 of whom are physicians.

It’s clear why Young-Walker planted roots in Columbia—there are scores of reasons to stay. Says Megan McConachie of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, “We have so many amenities and things to do that you’d expect to find in a much larger city. The University of Missouri creates a great opportunity for us to enjoy a pretty cosmopolitan small city, but still with that low cost of living. It has the best of all worlds.” Columbia’s downtown area is an attraction in and of itself with bars and restaurants that satisfy an area with lots of foodies.

The population of Columbia is more than 120,000. Something unique about Columbia is the number of journalists who live there, because of the University of Missouri’s elite journalism school. “It’s a media rich environment, and it’s definitely one of the hallmarks of the city,” says McConachie.

“We’re a city with all four seasons. We have a very distinct spring, summer, fall, winter. Our summers are warm and pretty humid. Our winters are generally not too harsh. We get a few snows but nothing too crazy.” McConachie says that occasionally the area experiences bitterly cold winters, but those are the exception to the rule.

“Another great thing about Columbia is that it is right in the center of the state. If you need to, you can get to Kansas City or to St. Louis in about two hours,” says McConachie.

But Young-Walker has anchored in Columbia, where she has had the support of the University of Missouri Health System to build two programs to reach and treat children who need psychological treatment but are unlikely to receive it.

Says Young-Walker, “I was able to create a program unique to this area where a child psychiatrist will go to a school with a nurse and do an evaluation, and then have three follow-up visits. While the child is waiting in between visits, she’s being treated and managed. She’s more stable, as opposed to going untreated and then being taken to the hospital or going to the ER when there’s an emergency. I’ve been able to focus on prevention and early intervention.”

The second program that Young-Walker created elevates the knowledge that pediatricians and family medicine practitioners have about child psychology.

“The Missouri Child Psychology Access Project focuses on creating relationships between child psychologists and family care doctors,” Young-Walker says. “Our program provides doctors with immediate telephone support and linkage and referral resources to get kids into cognitive behavioral therapy. We help doctors refer their patients to a provider who can provide services.”

Young-Walker has also created an online educational tool to educate family medicine practitioners on child psychology. Next year, the program will go state-wide.

This is especially interesting because Young-Walker had always pictured herself in a clinical setting and saw patients for years before training her focus on public health. She has advice for students and physicians in the early stages of their careers: “It’s important to accept the fact that your vision may not be the end vision. If all of us are in this for the right reasons, allow things to happen that you’re not used to, in a way that will change things and help others. I spent a lot of time resisting the opportunities for change in my career.”

Now, Young-Walker is in a place where she finds her work deeply impactful and motivating, even if it is not what she originally had in mind.

Danville, Pennsylvania

Physicians who yearn for a rural lifestyle or giving their children an upbringing in the great outdoors have the unique opportunity to live in a remote area and still build a career with cutting-edge health systems.

Michelle Cornacchia, M.D., had early ideas about her career. “I wanted to be a teacher for a long time,” she says. At the College of New Jersey, she started to pivot: “I thought it would be really cool if I could have a career where I help people feel better.” She started looking into careers in health care, and she volunteered at local hospitals and clinics. She was accepted at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (now part of Rutgers University, New Jersey’s flagship public university).

She was initially thinking pediatrics, but she was also intrigued by internal medicine. “So ultimately, I did a combined internal medicine and pediatrics program,” she says. Cornacchia carved out a unique specialty: she works with adults with complex medical needs that originate in childhood, such as autism, muscular dystrophy and other disabilities.

Cornacchia knew that there weren’t a lot of clinics for adults with developmental disabilities. Thus, she was excited to join Geisinger’s comprehensive care clinic in Danville.

“Living in a rural area, it’s more laid back,” says Michelle Cornacchia, M.D. “it’s OK to breathe.” – Photo by Stephanie Fletcher

Geisinger Medical Center is a 500-bed Level I trauma center and teaching hospital with over 50 residency and fellowship programs. The clinic is a patient-centered medical home for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. The clinic has a multidisciplinary team with a care manager who triages, a health assistant who coordinates, pharmacists, and of course, several internal medicine physicians and specialists.

“We’re able to look at the big picture for our patients. If they need multiple specialists and medication from different specialists, our pharmacist makes sure there are no adverse effects from the interaction. It’s a primary care place, but it’s a place that patients can get the comprehensive care that they need.”

Cornacchia has high praise for Geisinger as both an employer and as a steward of health care. Cornacchia recalls that when she was a resident elsewhere, she saw patients in 20-minute slots. At Geisinger, she has an hour with each patient. “There is a lot of good by allowing us that extended time. Our patient population is so thankful. I’ll have mothers who bring their children in for a first appointment, and they start frantically going through their children’s medical history in a very short time,” says Cornacchia. This is because patients often expect their time with physicians to be limited.

“Geisinger has moved away from fee-for-service to value-based care,” says Matthew McKinney, director of talent management for Geisinger. “The experience our patients receive, as well as the health and well-being of the communities we serve, come first. Providers’ performance is not strictly related to seeing X number of patients or performing X number of procedures. That has really resonated with the providers we recruit,” says McKinney.

Geisinger attracts physicians with its cutting-edge technology. The health system has had electronic health records since 1996; Geisinger was one of Epic’s first clients. “We were one of the first health care organizations in the country to begin using electronic health records. We have more than 20 years of patient data that has allowed us to deploy a lot of evidence-based best practices,” says McKinney. In fact, “we have two research centers—one clinical and one outcomes research. We have the largest biobank in the world; we do human DNA sequencing and are able to notify patients if they may have a genetic predisposition. That’s something we offer all Geisinger patients through primary care, specialty care and even online.”

“You wouldn’t think in Danville that there would be amazing access to technology, research, data and educational opportunities for our employees and providers,” says McKinney.

About 20 minutes from Danville is Lewisburg, another area health care hub and home to Evangelical Community Hospital—a fiscally strong community hospital that has retained its independence and is growing.

“Evangelical is currently undertaking the largest construction project in its history,” says Elyse Stefanowicz, provider recruiter and retention coordinator for Evangelical. That project includes the construction of a four-story, nearly 112,000-square-foot addition slated to be finished in August 2020. It will create modern, single-occupancy rooms and private bathrooms.

Also on Evangelical’s list is adopting the Epic electronic medical record platform, a transition that will be complete in summer 2021 and result in a single, fully integrated information technology system.

Evangelical is currently recruiting in anesthesia, cardiology (both invasive and non-invasive), critical care medicine, family medicine, gastroenterology, general neurology and obstetrics and gynecology.

“It is a perfect place to raise a family and practice medicine,” says Stefanowicz of Lewisburg and the Greater Susquehanna Valley. “The small community feel of Lewisburg includes great shopping, fantastic dining, and the renowned Bucknell University, which provides arts and entertainment to the community.”

Cornacchia says the patient population is overall easygoing and grateful. “Quality of life is really fantastic, and the patient population is nice. Living in a rural area, it’s more laid back. It’s OK to breathe. It’s okay to take the time to enjoy the simple things, to take a walk, to spend time outside.”

McKinney echoes the sentiment that there is a high quality of life, especially for families with kids. He says, “It’s small-town living. The people in the community are very friendly and engaging. There are great school systems. When you factor in how wonderful the people are and the educational opportunities that exist for our providers’ children of all ages, it’s really a great place to live.”

Naperville, Illinois

Naperville is a suburb of Chicago, 30 minutes west of the city. While there are scores of health systems and hospitals with facilities in Chicago, physicians who practice in Naperville have the advantage of potentially accelerating their careers by practicing in a smaller market. Not to mention, Naperville is an ideal place to raise a family, where community is king, but big city culture is an hour’s drive away.

Amish Doshi, M.D., is another physician who knew in childhood, growing up in Naperville, that he wanted to be a doctor. “A second-grade school assignment asked us to complete the following sentence: ‘When I grow up, I will be a…’ and I wrote ‘a doctor!’ Even as a 7-year-old, I knew I wanted to be a part of health care. My passion was solidified through my undergraduate studies, work and volunteer experiences.”

Doshi graduated from the University of Michigan before setting off to medical school in Antigua. Says Doshi, “Although a vacation destination for many, my regular date night with the books meant days at the beach were few and far between. After completing my rotations in various health care systems across the states, I completed two years of research with the University of Michigan in diabetes, before undergoing my training in internal medicine at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Michigan.”

After residency, Doshi left Michigan to return to his hometown of Naperville, Illinois, to join Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Edward-Elmhurst Health includes three hospitals—Edward Hospital, Elmhurst Hospital and Linden Oaks Behavioral Health (a mental health hospital)—and an extensive ambulatory care network for residents of the west and southwest suburbs of Chicago. Edward Hospital has 354 beds, and Edward-Elmhurst Health has approximately 60 outpatient locations in the Chicago suburbs.

Says Keith Hartenberger, system director of public relations for Edward-Elmhurst Health, “The system has annual revenues of more than $1.3 billion; more than 60 locations across a service area of 1.7 million residents; nearly 8,500 employees, including 1,900 nurses with 2,000 physicians on staff; plus 1,300 volunteers.”

Doshi says that Edward-Elmhurst Health is well-regarded by the community, and it contributes to Naperville’s strong sense of community. He says, “Edward Medical Group has a warm community feel that helps patients and family members feel assured during their times of need. I believe it is Edward’s deep involvement with the community that has created this trust and achieved an intimate role in the well-being of the members of the local and neighboring communities.”

Hartenberger says that physicians at Edward Hospital appreciate being part of a physician-led organization and the positive culture, with a “focus on physician well-being and leadership.”

Then, there is the excitement outside of work. Says Doshi, “I grew up in Naperville, which is better known as ‘Naperthrill’ to some. I wanted to give my family the same great experience I had. Naperville has an unrivaled combination of education, entertainment and outdoor recreation. …To add to the excitement, Naperville also has several fairs and festivals throughout the year. Last year, I was even lucky enough to see Pitbull and to meet [Aerosmith lead singer] Steven Tyler!”

Doshi and his wife, Christine Elyse, have a baby son named Shyam. Doshi says, “We enjoy the simple things like taking a walk around the miles of local forest preserves and nature centers. We are excited to bring him to the local swimming pool in the summer. We also frequent the various restaurants in the area. Being that it is so very family-friendly and kid-friendly, Shyam is beginning to love his regular stroller stroll through the thriving streets of downtown Naperville.”

Gainesville, Florida

Gainesville is all about the Gators. This is not to say that alligators are an omnipresent threat—rather, the community is wildly supportive of the University of Florida Gators. The University of Florida is Gainesville’s largest employer. UF Health, the university’s health system and teaching hospital, is the area’s second-largest, with approximately 12,000 employees. There’s a unique trend among medical students and medical residents: once they come to Gainesville and become part of UF Health, they tend to stay. This speaks volumes to UF Health as a quality employer, and Gainesville as a place to build a life and raise a family.

When Julia Close, M.D., was a child in elementary school, she was fascinated to learn how the heart pumps blood around the body. She knew then that she wanted to be a physician. She says, “Later I remained interested as I came to realize that doctors can provide comfort and cure, all while being on the cutting-edge of science.”

“I attended medical school at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and I never left!” Close says. She was drawn to oncology for many reasons. She wanted to care for patients along a continuum, and she was interested in learning about the growing number of effective and less toxic therapies for cancer patients.

“What made me most want to be an oncologist was when I attended my mother’s first appointment with her oncologist while I was a second-year medical student. Her doctor sat with her and explained chemotherapy with patience, knowledge and grace. It was such a relief to my family. I hope I provide the same to my patients and their families,” says Close. Thankfully, Close’s mother is now a 20-year survivor of breast cancer and still sees the same oncologist—a testament to the longevity of the relationships that oncologists can build with their patients.

Close completed her residency in internal medicine and her fellowship in hematology/oncology all at the University of Florida. Close says that UF Health is an especially supportive place to train and practice. “There is a reason why so many of us attended medical school here and never left. As a trainee, I noticed attending physicians were approachable and units worked as a team. UF Health has great nurses, pharmacists, therapists, techs. They have great, knowledgeable staff whose opinions and input are valuable. This allows us to take great care of patients,” says Close.

UF Health Shands Hospital is a teaching hospital, and the anchor of the University of Florida Health System (commonly referred to as UF Health). The hospital is a Level I trauma center licensed for 961 beds and 241 ICU beds. UF Health Shands Hospital is also home to the University of Florida Health Science Center: the umbrella organization for the University of Florida’s medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy and public health schools.

Says Elizabeth Reyes, the marketing coordinator for Visit Gainesville, “The Gainesville region is very family-friendly, with numerous parks, splash pads, public pools, museums, a children’s theater, trails, farmer’s markets, and free activities such as the downtown Free Fridays Concert Series that runs from May to October. There are also many educational programs and activities for every type of interest.” She says that Gainesville is a college town that “hits way above its weight. Meaning, you can still find southern hospitality here and an easy lifestyle, but also with all the modern conveniences that you might expect from larger cities.”

Close agrees Gainesville has a little bit of everything. Says Close, “There is so much I like about Gainesville. What could be better than living in a college town, in a state without snow, but in a region with seasons? My family likes being outside year-round. We play a lot of sports, and while I’m not very fast, I enjoy running our trails. We have great restaurants and access to arts, but I can live on enough land to have ducks, chickens and a stocked pond.”

Then, of course, there is University of Florida sports. “The University of Florida football, basketball and other sports events create great opportunities for entertainment and community activities,” says Reyes.

Close agrees, “My kids were born at UF and are Gators through and through. Taking them to all sorts of sports on campus and feeling the camaraderie is something I hope they look back on as an important part of growing up.”



Live & Practice: Small Towns 2019

By Liz Funk | Live & Practice | Spring 2019


Small towns and rural areas are often characterized by their natural beauty and genuinely friendly neighbors, but they aren’t lacking in culture or history, either. In fact, they are brimming with it. With care centers that boast big-city amenities and multispeciality practices, these towns and regions fuse professional opportunity with great work/life balance. They could be called the best-kept secrets, but locals take such pride in their communities that there is simply no chance of that.

Gallipolis, Ohio

Small towns are known for neighbors and acquaintances who go the extra mile for each other, and Gallipolis, Ohio, is no different. The town sits on the scenic Ohio River, with the main medical facility positioned on the town’s rolling hills. History, culture and agriculture are all important to the people of Gallipolis, and the thriving hospital network serves the small, tight-knit community.

Joshua Bryant, D.O., grew up in Pittsburgh— so he knew living and working in a small town would be an adjustment. After earning his degree at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Bryant began residency at the Holzer Family Medicine Residency Program. Now in his third year, Bryant likes Gallipolis and Holzer so much that he has decided to stay.

“Holzer has a fantastic teaching and mentorship program that really helps to educate future doctors,” says Bryant. “I feel like I am where I am supposed to be.”

As a family medicine specialist, building relationships with patients is part of Bryant’s job. That is especially compelling work in a small town, where doctors have the opportunity to get to know their patients in the community, too. When he is not at work, Bryant teaches exercise and dance classes at the Holzer Therapy and Wellness Center.

“Our physicians feel appreciated and respected while wearing a white coat at the clinic or wearing a little league T-shirt while coaching a T-ball game,” says Ginger Canaday-Thompson, physician recruiter at Holzer Health System.

And when they are at work, physicians experience a similar tight-knit, supportive environment. As a nonprofit, physician-owned, community-led organization, Holzer Health System is focused on improving quality of life for its patients and physicians alike.

“Holzer takes care of their physicians,” says Joshua Bryant, D.O. He decided to stay with the group after doing his residency there. – Photo by Chris Jackson

“Our community will continue to receive the very best health care in their own backyard,” says Canaday-Thompson. The phrase, “the patient is the center of all we do” was coined in 1909 by the organization’s founders, she says, and it still stands true over 100 years later.

Holzer operates a main hospital in Gallipolis with 266 beds, plus a critical access hospital in nearby Jackson with 24 beds. There is also the Holzer Center for Cancer Care, the new Holzer Therapy and Wellness Center, and 13 outpatient clinics, to name just some of the many care centers. A new wound care center will be built soon, and physicians also have access to a new linear accelerator in the cancer center and a da Vinci robot. Across its facilities, the system employs over 160 providers in over 30 areas of expertise.

The health system is currently recruiting physicians for endocrinology, family medicine/internal medicine, gastroenterology, hematology/oncology, neurology, OB-GYN, plastic surgery, urgent care and urology.

“We practice big city medicine in a small town,” says Todd Miller, vice president of satellite operations. Because of the organization’s multi-specialty focus, physicians can pick up the phone and ask other providers within the health system for assistance. “Working together and emphasizing a teamwork approach is highly valued inside the system,” adds Canaday-Thompson.

There are also numerous teaching opportunities available to providers, thanks to the organization’s GME program, which accepts medical students from both the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

There are also teaching opportunities in the Family Medicine Residency Program, which opened its doors three years ago. Four of the current family medicine residents, including Bryant, have signed on to begin permanent employment at Holzer once their residencies are complete, which is a testament to their positive experiences.

“Holzer takes care of their physicians,” says Bryant. “They’re very kind and supportive. There are some amazing teachers that have really helped me become the physician that I am today. They really want you to succeed.”

That same sense of support exists outside the hospital, too. Holzer Family Practice Medical Director Lance Broy, M.D., notes Gallipolis seems to embrace young families with open arms. When Canaday-Thompson talks to candidates, the family-friendly culture is something she emphasizes.

If you happen to be coming to the area on your own, do not fear. Your neighbors, who will often be willing to go out of their way for you, can become like family.

There is plenty to do in Gallipolis, especially around the holidays, when the Gallipolis In Lights event “takes you back to days goneby,” says Canaday-Thompson. There are also classic car shows, fairs and festivals, some of which celebrate the region’s farming culture.

Venues for the arts and history include the French Art Colony, the Bob Evans Farm and Homestead Museum, and the Ohio Valley Symphony at the Ariel Theatre. An undercurrent of history also runs through the town, with the fleur-de-lis adorning downtown architecture and serving as a reminder of the French and Welsh populations that settled the region in the 1790s.

Locals and visitors who want outdoor recreation do not have to go far at all. With just a quick drive, you can find “some of the best skiing and whitewater rafting in the eastern United States,” says Canaday-Thompson. The region also has opportunities for camping, kayaking, hiking, cycling, hunting and mountain biking.

Bryant says he particularly enjoys learning about the agricultural aspect of the community. He interacts with farmers and livestock owners and appreciates how knowledgeable they are.

Futhermore, he enjoys hearing the local lingo and being affectionately called “Bub.” He has gotten to know people in the community not only through the hospital and his dance and fitness classes, but also his church group. For Bryant, Gallipolis was the right place to do his residency, and now, it is the right place for him to live and work. He has a sense of purpose as a physician at Holzer.

“I feel that I can make a difference, and I am part of something special,” he says.

Asheville, North Carolina

A picturesque small city situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina, is a draw for outdoor enthusiasts. With just under 90,000 inhabitants, its patient populations are both city-dwellers and residents of the surrounding counties. People flock to Asheville not only for the outdoors, but also for the burgeoning entrepreneurship opportunities, the farm-to-table food and the cultural offerings.

Asheville, North Carolina, was not a place Adam Kaufman, M.D., just ended up. Instead, it was a place he sought.

After attending medical school at Harvard University, Kaufman went on to do his residency at Duke University. Durham and Asheville are over three hours away from each other, but Kaufman says he and his wife spent a fair amount of time exploring the smaller city.

“Given the amazing access to outdoors, fantastic people and wonderful environment, we knew it was an ideal place to settle and raise a family,” he says.

Adam Kaufman, M.D., came to Asheville for the outdoors lifestyle it offered. In his off hours, he enjoys hiking, fishing, running, camping and more. – Photo by Derek DiLuzio

An orthopedic trauma surgeon, Kaufman also completed an orthopedic trauma residency at the University of Maryland. Throughout his training, he was always drawn to the technical aspects of orthopedics; he likes the variety of patients he sees and the acuity of the problems.

“It is sometimes daunting to meet patients after a major injury, but it provides an amazing opportunity to help them reach their fullest potential for recovery,” he says.

Kaufman is employed by Mission Health, the state’s sixth largest health system. According to Misti Dixon, senior physician recruiter at Mission Health, Mission operates six hospitals, the region’s only dedicated Level II trauma center, and numerous outpatient and surgery centers, among other services. It has the distinction of being the only North Carolina hospital to be named one of the nation’s “Top 15 Health Systems” by IBM Watson.

Kaufman says he feels fortunate to be at a place like Mission, and that the people are “outstanding.”

According to Dixon, Mission’s ability to grow, thrive, and continue to serve the people of western North Carolina is what makes it attractive to candidates. There’s a new tower dedicated to advanced medicine that’s under construction, and she sees this as an emblem of Mission’s role in the community.

“I think providers are not only interested, but encouraged by this construction as this is a reflection of growth, stability, need and commitment,” she says. “All of these things make our health system even more attractive to the physician and advanced practitioner population.”

Mission Health is currently recruiting for community medicine, cardiology, anesthesia, trauma, pulmonology and critical care, emergency services, behavioral health and oncology, among others.

“The list goes on, which is another reflection of growth,” says Dixon.

Providers at Mission also have the opportunity to see a wide variety of patients from both rural and urban populations, given that the organization serves a wide geographic area. Mission’s size means that providers and their patients get the best of both worlds.

“Providers are able to work within a medical community that is patient-centric and sophisticated enough to handle all complexities of care, yet small enough to maintain that personal touch,” says Dixon.

Often, she does not have to do much convincing when she meets with candidates; they are already sold on Asheville. The city’s reputation as a great place to enjoy the outdoors precedes itself, but she likes to convey to candidates that Asheville has a lot to offer in addition to its natural beauty.

“We place a lot of emphasis on our schools, which have an excellent reputation,” she says. “We have quite a few breweries in town, which is fun for beer enthusiasts. Asheville is lively and it’s thriving, and there’s a lot of really good energy in this town.”

There is also an exciting culinary scene, thanks to a growing interest in the community around food, says Erin Leonard, director of communications at Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. “We have a lot of small independent restaurants that have embraced farm-to-table,” she says.

Overall, the ability to have work/life balance in Asheville draws people to the area. And, says Leonard, when at play, you can easily explore both cultural and outdoor opportunities. “We have the city and all the great things it has to offer, plus easy access to hikes and outdoor activities in the mountains of North Carolina,” she says. Plus, with a river that flows through town, residents find recreational opportunities just footsteps away on the multi-use greenways.

Destinations within the city include the Folk Arts Center and Shindig on the Green, a folk festival that had its 52nd season this summer.

Asheville’s entrepreneurial spirit is another important aspect of the region. “People decide to move here and say, ‘let me figure out how to create a job,’” says Leonard. Because the city is an attractive place for multiple reasons, there is a mix of people who live there. That dynamic results in varied cultural opportunities with something for just about everyone.

Kaufman, who came to Asheville for the outdoors, says he has not been disappointed, nor has his wife or two sons. “Everything you could want to do, from whitewater kayaking to rock climbing, is all right here.” When he is not working, he enjoys hiking, fishing, trail running, camping and “tiring out my boys off the beaten path.” He and his family are also very involved in the religious community in Asheville, and he regularly volunteers at the Western Carolina Rescue Ministry.

Above all, he is happy he landed in Asheville and at a place like Mission Health.

“The road of medical training is long and brings a trainee to a number of different hospitals and clinics,” he says. “I have been extremely fortunate to work in great institutions with very talented staff. I can honestly say I have never been at a place where people are as caring as at Mission Hospital. I am privileged to be a part of this team.”

Walla Walla, Washington

Scenic Walla Walla, Washington, is known for its wine production, an aspect of the region that has been booming over the past couple of decades. Walla Walla is situated in a largely rural area, so you might not know about the robustness of the medical community or its higher education opportunities. Small town friendliness is a way of life here, and residents enjoy the area’s laid-back vibe while never running out of things to do.

While it might not look like a regional hub at first glance, Walla Walla was at one point the largest community in the territory of Washington. The gold rush brought many settlers to the area during the mid 1800s, and the Walla Walla of today reflects the historical significance it had over a century ago. It is a small city of approximately 32,000, but the cultural and professional opportunities are considerable.

“What struck me regarding the job here is that though Walla Walla is quite rural, it really had a rather remarkable medical community,” says Timothy Davidson, M.D., chief executive of physician services at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.

A Portland native, Davidson attended medical school at Oregon Health & Science University before completing his residency in internal medicine at University of Colorado Denver, when he decided to specialize in pulmonary and critical care. He then did a fellowship at the University of Washington. Though he was not set on a specific location for a permanent position, his wife, a California native, had some ideas. Seattle felt too gray, and when they moved back to Portland for a short time, that did not feel perfectly right for them either.

“In that time, I really developed a better understanding of what I wanted in a practice,” he says. “I was working at a multispecialty clinic owned by an outside, for-profit entity, and there were some aspects of the job that didn’t seem optimal. Likewise, we were looking for a little different type of lifestyle to raise our family.”

He found Providence Health & Services and Walla Walla, and he knew it was a fit.

“There is a very robust medical community here. It serves as a referral center for northwest Oregon and southwest Washington,” he says. “That attracted me, coming from bigger cities where I was used to having a lot of subspecialties around me. I was struck by that.”

In Walla Walla, Providence Health & Services operates the 142-bed St. Mary’s Hospital, which also has a 14-bed ICU and eight beds for in-patient rehab. There are also primary care and specialty clinics throughout Walla Walla, says Providence Provider Recruiter Amy Knoup.

The mission of Providence Health & Services is to care for the poor and vulnerable. Knoup says that the organization deploys system-wide initiatives to meet the needs of those demographics, and Davidson adds that Providence strives to make decisions based on values that support those populations. In addition to serving migrant workers in the wine industry and agricultural sector, the hospital also sees patients who are family members or loved ones visiting the nearby prison.

Davidson spent the first part of his career at Providence working as a pulmonary critical care doctor. He then transitioned into a leadership role, and for the past dozen years has led the medical group.

“As you talk to new providers, we strive to create an environment in which we want to partner with the physician to best support them so they can have a fulfilling professional career and an enjoyable life outside of medicine,” he says. “What I’m trying to get at is, some places, how you work is pretty well-defined. Here, we’re much more likely to say, ‘What fits your lifestyle?’”

As a result, many providers in Walla Walla work less than full-time. This flexibility, says Davidson, is part of the organization’s core beliefs.

In Walla Walla, Providence is currently recruiting hospitalists, as well as physicians specializing in primary care and internal medicine, hematology, oncology and neurology.

When Knoup talks to candidates, she emphasizes the importance of Providence being a mission-driven organization. “We want all the providers to be fully invested in that,” she says. She also underscores the amazing location, access to outdoor activities, unique dining options and phenomenal wineries, not to mention the work/life balance that is possible at an organization like Providence and in a setting like Walla Walla.

For a small town, Walla Walla gets its fair share of tourism, too, thanks in great part to the wine industry. “When we moved here in 2000, there were 25 to 30 wineries,” says Davidson. “Now there are approximately 150. It’s been interesting to watch the growth of the wine industry and with it, fine dining options and elegant hotels and bed and breakfasts.”

For those thinking about relocating to Walla Walla with their families, Davidson says he has been very happy with the school system. “Both of our kids were educated in the public school system and had opportunities for acceleration,” he says. Plus, Walla Walla also has three colleges, which brings differing perspectives into the town. “The colleges provide a broader base and views and consideration about topics,” he adds.

When physicians are looking for permanent employment, Davidson encourages them to think about their lifestyle as a whole—not only what they really enjoy about medicine, but what they really enjoy outside of medicine, too. “Our training leads us to believe that medicine should be done a certain way and we’re so immersed in that environment that we don’t really ask ourselves, ‘So what about the other things beyond work that are important to us?’”

“If you can go through that exercise then I think you are more likely to get something that’s probably going to be a better long-term fit.” For Davidson, Walla Walla was just that.

Staunton, Virginia

With a Main Street that was recently named by Architectural Digest as one of the 30 most beautiful main streets across America, Staunton, Virginia, epitomizes small-town life. Situated between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, the small city of 24,000 is in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. The outdoors are a vital part of the culture here, but equally so are heritage, the arts and a sense of community.

Working in a rural, community hospital, Frank Johnson, Jr., M.D., began his career in family medicine practicing just about every kind of care. As he puts it, he enjoys managing a wide variety of medical conditions in a variety of age groups, and in the early years, he was even delivering babies.

As a physician with Augusta Health, which operates a 255-bed hospital along with numerous primary care offices and specialty practices, Johnson’s areas of practice have developed over time.

For the past 20 years, he has specialized in geriatric medicine and preventive medicine with an emphasis on managing lipids in complex patients. In addition to being certified in family practice and geriatric medicine, he has also earned board certification in hospice and palliative medicine.

Johnson trained at the Medical College of Georgia and completed his residency at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center in South Carolina. He chose to practice at Augusta Health due to both the quality of care, and the opportunities present in Staunton and the surrounding areas.

“Augusta Health offered a vibrant medical community with excellent specialty coverage,” he says. “It’s located in a beautiful setting with great proximity to surrounding major universities, while still having the benefits of a smaller town lifestyle.”

“It’s a very collegial group of physicians,” says Dawn Funkhouser, physician recruiter at Augusta Health. The organization is currently recruiting for an interventional cardiologist, a critical care pulmonologist, an advanced gastroenterologist, a neurologist, and physicians specializing in primary care, rheumatology and urgent care. According to Funkhouser, the hospital is doubling the size of its emergency department and just opened its third cardiac catheterization lab.

The hospital’s state-of-the-art equipment includes the da Vinci robot. As Funkhouser puts it, “we have a lot of the amenities that you would find at a larger hospital.” The Augusta Health Cancer Center has an affiliation with Duke Cancer Network, a partnership that allows the hospital to provide a broad range of cancer services for Staunton’s population.

When Funkhouser talks to physician candidates, she emphasizes the highly livable quality of the area. “You can live in a not-so-densely populated area but have that small, tight-knit experience of community,” she says.

City of Staunton Director of Tourism Sheryl Wagner says that Staunton’s location in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley allows for a meeting of recreation and culture. “It’s the perfect base for hiking, biking, golfing, horseback riding and fishing,” she says. “After a big day in the big outdoors, come back to civilization, great restaurants, wine bars and craft breweries.”

Originally founded in 1747, Staunton has a rich heritage, too. According to Wagner, the Frontier Culture Museum displays a series of authentic historic farms, each moved from their country of origin and reconstructed at the museum site. It’s a living-history museum, so visitors interact with costumed interpreters while viewing a blacksmith’s forge, period crop-raising methods and more.

In the downtown, you will also experience something you can only otherwise see in London: an authentic recreation of Shakespeare’s playhouse. Since 1988, The American Shakespeare Center “has worked to create an atmosphere that closely recreates the theatrical experience of Shakespeare’s time,” says Funkhouser.

Staunton also has two city parks that are loved by locals. Among the two parks, facilities include a public golf course, football and baseball stadiums, a public swimming pool, a bandstand, a dog park, a disc golf course, a soccer complex, and fitness, mountain biking trails and more.

When in doubt, simply walking through downtown and enjoying the city’s historic districts and beautiful, varied architecture can make for a lovely afternoon or evening, especially when paired with a musical event, a dinner at a new restaurant or a night of theater.

“I personally enjoy golfing, going to the Augusta Health Fitness Center, which is truly outstanding, or taking a nice walk after dining with my wife,” says Johnson.

It is a similar sentiment to how he feels about his time at Augusta Health, where he enjoys establishing long-term relationships with his patients and working alongside excellent colleagues.

“Augusta Health focuses on health care for the community, with a focus on quality of care,” he says. Equally as important, they are “passionate about training tomorrow’s health care providers.”



Family-friendly cities

Live & Practice

By Liz Funk | Live & Practice | Winter 2019


These family-friendly places have top schools, affordable housing, friendly neighborhoods—everything a physician with kids needs in a new place to practice. Plus, there are plenty of venues for play, from lakeshores to mountain bike trails to museums and film fests just for kids. With remarkable job opportunities for physicians in each location, these cities are worth exploring both for their renowned health care and their great livability.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sits on the shores of Lake Michigan and is one of the Midwest’s best-kept secrets. The people are friendly, the population is diverse, and the city is home to top medical institutions like Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin. In a city made up of 191 neighborhoods, residents can choose to live in suburban, urban or rural communities, and can find family-friendly fun by exploring all this up-and-coming city has to offer.

Familiar with the German word gemütlichkeit? It means good cheer or friendliness, and it’s the spirit that embodies Milwaukee and the people who live there. The city has also been dubbed “Smallwaukee” by locals, because you can’t go long without seeing the face of someone you know on the street. For physicians seeking dynamic careers in a city with a small-town feel, Milwaukee is a perfect place to land.

Kristine Cooper, D.O., is an assistant professor of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "I love having access to all of the specialists on the cutting edge of medicine and research." -Photo by Joe Hang

Kristine Cooper, D.O., is an assistant professor of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “I love having access to all of the specialists on the cutting edge of medicine and research.” -Photo by Joe Hang

Kristine Cooper, D.O., is an assistant professor of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. After attending medical school at Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Iowa, Cooper began practicing in the greater Milwaukee area, where she stayed for 15 years until moving back to Iowa to be close to a family member who was ill. After her family member passed away, she knew she wanted to return to Milwaukee. When a recruiter reached out to her to see if she was interested in an opportunity at Medical College of Wisconsin, she took the job.

“I love being part of the academic medical team,” says Cooper of her current role. “I love having access to all of the specialists on the cutting edge of medicine and research.”

With over 1,200 students enrolled in the Medical College of Wisconsin’s medical school and graduate programs, the organization is the largest research institution in the Milwaukee metro area, according to Gabrielle Pollard, Medical College of Wisconsin physician recruiter.

“In 2016, faculty received more than $184 million in external support for research, teaching, training and related purposes,” says Pollard. “Annually, MCW faculty direct or collaborate on more than 3,100 research studies, including clinical trials.”

At the Medical College of Wisconsin, over 1,500 physicians provide care for more than half a million patients annually.

For Cooper, the combination of academia and practice allows her to flourish as a physician. She says, “I am constantly striving to be a better physician and always learning, as I have the opportunity to teach the next generation of physicians.”

According to Pollard, Medical College of Wisconsin is experiencing an exciting growth spurt which has opened up new opportunities for physicians. Froedtert, the college’s clinical partner, “is building a new neighborhood hospital to deliver academic quality medicine to the community where people live and work,” says Pollard. The organization seeks talented physicians in all specialties, but is particularly recruiting for emergency medicine and anesthesiologists.

Kristin Settle, director of communications at VISIT Milwaukee, notes that the city has no shortage of job opportunities. Milwaukee is home to the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin (one of the nation’s top pediatric hospitals), Aurora Health Care (the state’s largest employer) and Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare (a not-for-profit health care system). On top of that, the city boasts eight Fortune 500 companies, adding to its reputation as a modern city that invests in itself.

“Milwaukee has something for everyone, and was ranked one of the top three up-and-coming places to live by U.S. News & World Report,” says Pollard. “It’s also a very family-friendly area with schools in the area being ranked as some of the top in the nation.”

“As a mom of three, I can tell you Milwaukee is extremely family-friendly,” adds Settle. Top attractions include the Milwaukee County Zoo, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Discovery World, the historic Mitchell Park Domes, three indoor botanical gardens, the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Harley-Davidson Museum.

“We’ve even made our brewery tours and beer gardens kid-friendly,” Settle says. It seems only fair kids should be invited to the party, since beer and brewing is such an integral part of Milwaukee’s history.

It’s not just craft breweries that have exploded in Milwaukee; the arts are prominent too. “Milwaukee is home to 25 theaters and has one of the strongest performing arts communities in America,” says Settle. “And we have dozens of smaller, more intimate venues, giving us one of the best local music scenes around—take that, Nashville!”

When you want to get outside, Milwaukee has abundant opportunities for kayaking, biking, sailing, snowshoeing, tobogganing, skating, skiing and more.

“You have all the big city amenities with all the feel of small, friendly neighborhoods,” adds Cooper. “I would tell physicians considering relocating to Milwaukee—welcome home!”

Homewood, Alabama

Situated at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Birmingham, Alabama, is a southern hub for health care. Newcomers to the greater Birmingham area, which includes the suburb of Homewood, are often struck by the natural beauty of the area, which also boasts a strong sense of community and hospitality, not to mention a low cost of living despite its cosmopolitan charm. Health care is the largest employment sector in Birmingham, and incoming physicians are welcomed with open arms into area hospitals and practices.

Jay Meythaler, M.D., did not want to retire from medicine. After working for over 30 years in public academic medical hospitals, including serving as chair of his department at Wayne State University for more than 12 years, he moved back to Birmingham. He’d practiced at the University of Alabama at Birmingham earlier in his career, and the city was a good fit again.

Though no one could fault Meythaler if he did want to retire, he says he simply wasn’t done taking care of patients.

In his current role as the medical director for Encompass Health Shelby County, Meythaler enjoys the opportunity to work with rehab patients, which is the hospital’s primary focus. The facility only opened in April of 2018, and Meythaler was a key player.

Both he and his wife are happy in Birmingham. “My hospital is on the back side of Oak Mountain. It has backpacking trails; I’m looking at the mountain right now from my desk,” says Meythaler. “My wife loves it. You’re close to Nashville, the coast, Atlanta.”

In addition to Encompass Health, the area also has health care organizations like the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital (which is among the 20 largest hospitals in the country) and St. Vincent’s Birmingham (which is operated by health network Ascension).

According to Meythaler, physicians often have privileges at more than one hospital, which contributes to a nice sense of familiarity among the medical community.

“I know physicians who do part-time at two different hospitals. That was very different from Detroit. [There,] it was as though all other hospital systems are the enemy,” he says. Not in Birmingham.

Jamie Boutin, Encompass Health Corporation associate director of physician recruitment, says southern hospitality has a lot to do with the collegial atmosphere among doctors. “Physicians connect with physicians coming in,” he says. “We’re built to be welcoming. All hospitals are kind and nice, but when there’s a community where [new hires] happen all the time for all varieties of specialties, that’s a big plus.”

At Encompass Health, an acute inpatient rehabilitation hospital, Boutin says they are recruiting doctors specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Encompass Health operates 130 hospitals around the country, including Birmingham’s Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital.

According to Boutin, most candidates at Encompass Health locations in Birmingham are younger physicians who have families, in part because of the affordable cost of living and the availability of family-friendly activities. “It’s an hour to the mountains, less than an hour to a bunch of lakes and four hours to the beach,” he says. “Candidates tend to be struck—they’re surprised by how beautiful it is and how close they are to all sorts of activities.”

“Family-friendly events and activities are plentiful in Birmingham,” echoes Dilcy Windham Hilley, vice president of marketing communications at Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It is widely considered one of the most family-oriented cities in the Southeast.”

Annual events include the Sloss Music and Arts Festival, the Sidewalk Film Festival (one of the top independent film festivals in the U.S.), the Day of the Dead Festival and the Pride Parade, to name a few.

You can find beautiful white sand beaches, along with plenty of opportunities for fishing, hiking, golfing and camping, all in the state of Alabama. If you want a change of pace, you are close enough to Nashville, Atlanta and the Florida panhandle to get away for a weekend.

In a region characterized by southern hospitality, moderate year-round temperatures and a thriving health care system, it is no surprise physicians and their families are finding themselves in greater Birmingham. As Meythaler says, “this is a really nice circumstance to be in.”

Warwick, Rhode Island

In the greater Providence area, including picturesque cities like Warwick, locals can get outside to enjoy the natural beauty of the state and soak up city culture in the same day (and kids will delight in an afternoon spent at the zoo or watching minor league baseball).

When Therese Zink, M.D., explains why she chose family medicine as her specialty, she recognizes her reasoning is not uncommon for physicians in her field.

“My reason for choosing family medicine is one that you will hear from other family docs,” she says. “As a medical student, I fell in love with every specialty I rotated on. Family medicine allows us to do it all.”

Zink’s career has included teaching, research and administration in the academic setting.

Now a physician at Care New England, a health system that includes several hospitals in Rhode Island, Zink chose her current role because it allows her to work in academics while also seeing patients part-time.

According to Jean Butler, Medical Group COO at Care New England, the focus the health system places on teaching partnerships with Brown University and University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine is a big draw for physicians who are considering a job with the network.

Butler says that Care New England’s physician-dominated board of directors has a positive impact on the organization. “It’s 80 percent physician participation, and they really do lead the group and where the group is going,” she says.

In addition to Care New England’s hospitals, other medical facilities in the region include Rhode Island Hospital (the state’s largest hospital), Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and Miriam Hospital (noted for cardiac care), among others. Plus, Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School is a leader in medical education and biomedical research.

As for why physicians might want to relocate to the greater Providence area, other than the jobs themselves, Butler says Providence’s status as a “mini Boston” is one good reason.

“It has all the elements of a major city,” says Butler. Despite being convenient to Boston and New York, locals don’t have to leave town for culture, great cuisine or exciting events.

Providence’s signature event is WaterFire, an award-winning fire sculpture installation situated in the heart of downtown on three of Providence’s rivers. Other cultural opportunities include exhibits at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, gallery nights at venues across the city, and a restaurant week that features nearly 100 restaurants.

For kids, there is Roger Williams Park Zoo, which is the third oldest zoo in the country. There is also the Providence Children’s Museum, the Providence Children’s Film Festival, and the Pawtucket Red Sox. And of course, you can get outside. “Rhode Island sits on the coast, so people who live here like boating and swimming,” says Butler.

For Zink’s partner, in particular, being in Rhode Island was a perfect fit. “My partner is from the West Coast, so he was ready to see the ocean again,” says Zink. “We have loved walking the rocky beach with our dog, Conner, who is enjoying the seafood and learning not to drink the saltwater,” she adds. And, says Zink, her role at Care New England and the ability to work part-time in family medicine gives her time to pursue another passion—writing. She is writing a trilogy of international aid novels that feature a family physician.

"I don't know what you'd have to pay me to leave Bentonville," says Chad Jones, M.D. "It's wonderful here." -Photo by Stephen Ironside

“I don’t know what you’d have to pay me to leave Bentonville,” says Chad Jones, M.D. “It’s wonderful here.” -Photo by Stephen Ironside

Bentonville, Arkansas

The city of Bentonville, located in Northwest Arkansas, is one of the fastest growing regions in the nation. With a friendly and diverse population, great culinary experiences, affordable quality of life, good schools and expanding, state-of-the-art health care institutions, more and more people—physicians included—are deciding to call Bentonville and its neighboring communities home.

We have the whole world here,” says Chad Jones, M.D., an orthopedic spine surgeon at Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas. After graduating from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, Jones earned a master’s degree in biomedical engineering at Ohio State University. He also earned his medical degree at the Ohio State University before interning at Beaumont Hospital in Michigan.

Jones loves his specialty, specifically the fact that he can help make people better through surgery. “I don’t like taking care of sick people, but I love fixing broken people,” he says.

“We have a loud music selection that helps us when we’re operating. Here at Mercy Hospital, they have Bose sound systems for all the operating rooms, and the sound is fantastic.”

Physicians at the hospital treat patients from a huge variety of demographics, primarily due to the diverse population that is employed by Walmart’s Bentonville headquarters.

According to Raley O’Neill, Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas physician recruiter, the hospital—which is 10 years old this year—is expanding every single service it offers. Construction to the building, which is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2019, will add 100 beds, significantly growing the current capacity of just over 200 beds. As part of the $227 million expansion, the hospital is also opening new clinics in the region.

With the significant population growth in the area, Mercy expects to add 1,000 jobs, including about 100 physicians. Currently, the greatest recruitment needs are in gastroenterology, urology and rheumatology, as well as for hospitalists and OB-GYN hospitalists. Pulmonologists specializing in electrophysiology are also in demand.

Other medical facilities in the community include Northwest Medical Center-Bentonville (a 128-bed acute care facility) and Washington Regional (a nonprofit, community-owned health care system with a hospital in Fayetteville and clinics across the region).

Kalene Griffith, president of Visit Bentonville, says that once people find employment and settle in the area, they tend to want to stick around. “We have people that change jobs rather than transfer out of the community,” she says.

In addition to the expanding health care options, the region offers affordable housing, top schools in the state, a budding music scene and cultural experiences for both children and adults. Cultural attractions include Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Museum of Native American History, Bentonville Film Festival and Amazeum, a children’s museum with hands-on experiences.

“Most important, the people are friendly and welcoming,” says Griffith.

“A year or two ago, I was talking with a fairly well-known person in medicine about a potential position for me in Little Rock,” says Jones. “I told him I appreciated that, but with all due respect, I don’t know what you’d have to pay me to leave Bentonville. It’s wonderful here.”



Live & Practice

Tennis Towns

By Liz Funk | Fall 2018 | Live & Practice


A love for tennis comes with countless options. Indoor or outdoor? Social or competitive? Spectator, singles or doubles? Fortunately, these cities—which boast great opportunities for physicians—offer everything a tennis aficionado could ever want. From a casual game at a new, state-of-the-art facility to match point in paradise, tennis players will love these locations and all the other career and lifestyle benefits that come with them.

Stillwater, Oklahoma

Stillwater has been called America’s friendliest college town. As home to Oklahoma State University and Stillwater Medical Center, the city of just under 50,000 boasts a strong sense of community. It’s not just the city that receives accolades, though; Stillwater Medical Center has been named one of the “Top 100 Places to Work in Healthcare” for seven years in a row. With access to a highly educated patient population, as well as abundant athletic and cultural opportunities, physicians can find a great work-life balance in Stillwater.

As a surgeon at Stillwater Medical Center, Cara Pence, M.D., is able to both practice medicine and participate in medical missions in her spare time. -photo by Josh Dean

As a surgeon at Stillwater Medical Center, Cara Pence, M.D., is able to both practice medicine and participate in medical missions in her spare time. -photo by Josh Dean

Cara Pence, M.D., knew she was meant to be a surgeon. Still, she wrestled with the decision. She attended medical school at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in Tulsa and intended to specialize in family practice and ultimately go on medical missions. She had not enjoyed her rotation in family practice, but she tried to dismiss her doubts.

Then, when Pence was on her surgery rotation, a patient who had been stabbed in the heart arrived in the emergency room. He needed his chest opened and sutures in his heart.

“I knew I was probably the lowest person on the totem pole in the room, but I ended up being able to hold and touch his heart, retracting and holding back lungs,” she says. The patient survived, and Pence says the experience stayed with her, even as she fought against surgery’s calling.

“I kept telling myself there was no way I could be a surgeon,” she says. “I thought I wouldn’t have time to be a wife, have a family or be a good mom and Christian.” Instead of pursuing surgery, she decided to go into pediatric neurology because her sister has cerebral palsy.

“I was a couple weeks away from starting my internship in Houston for pediatric neurology when I started to get sick to my stomach. I knew it wasn’t right.” As Pence recalls, she told her husband, Jared, she wanted to be a surgeon. He replied, “Yeah, I always knew you were going to be a surgeon.”

Six months later, Pence finally acknowledged that surgery was her calling.

Now, as a general surgeon at Stillwater Medical Center with the ability to go on medical missions in her spare time, Pence knows she is where she is meant to be. “I knew I wanted to work at a place with a supportive team atmosphere while also working with physicians that challenge me.” She says she knew without a doubt her colleagues at Stillwater Medical Center would foster that type of environment.

Because Stillwater Medical Center is a community hospital, there are also other benefits. “All decisions are made by local leadership, both on the management and board level. This allows us to have a cohesive medical team that makes the patients, not the bottom-line, the priority,” says Joy Haken, a recruiter at Stillwater Medical Center. Haken also notes the facility is “one of the few community-owned hospitals that has operating margins averaging 7.5 percent over the past five years,” indicating a strong sense of financial stability.

The 117-bed acute care general hospital serves patients across north-central Oklahoma, and is staffed by more than 1,200 employees and over 100 physicians. In addition to the hospital’s recurring awards for high employee satisfaction, the organization has also earned recognition for quality in patient performance and outstanding leadership.

According to Haken, Stillwater Medical Center also offers “the latest in technology so our patients don’t have to drive out of town to receive medical care,” with advancements that include robotic surgery, Xenex Germ-Zapping Robots and 3D mammography.

The hospital is currently recruiting for gastroenterology, internal medicine, hospitalist, interventional cardiology, invasive/noninvasive cardiology, psychiatry, pulmonology and emergency medicine. When Haken talks to prospective physicians, she highlights that Stillwater is a “small city with a small-town feel, with all the qualities of life that are needed for families to prosper,” including great schools, affordable housing and entertainment.

Cristy Morrison, president and CEO of Visit Stillwater, underscores the strength of the community in the small city.

“Stillwater is an extremely educated and tight-knit community,” Morrison says. “We are lucky to have great university and community relations that encourage graduates to remain a part of the community post-graduation, or visit throughout the year to attend cultural and athletics events.” The university is part of the Big 12 Conference, and the city also has the ability to accommodate regional and national NCAA events, as well as Pro-Ams in various sports.

Those who want to play or watch tennis are in luck, as the sport has become even more popular since the completion of the Michael & Anne Greenwood Tennis Center on the OSU campus. The 50,000 square foot center includes 12 outdoor lighted courts, as well as an indoor facility that houses six courts and can seat at least 350 spectators. According to Morrison, the center was “the only collegiate facility to receive recognition by the United States Tennis Facility with an ‘Outstanding Facility Award.’” Looking forward to 2020, the university will host the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Division I Tennis Championships.

Outdoor recreation, including golf, is also popular, as are cultural events like the Annual Stillwater Arts Festival, which, now in its 41st year, is one of the city’s longest-running events. There’s also the Calf Fry, a music festival featuring popular “red dirt” and country artists, the Land Run 100 bicycle race, the Stillwater Blues Festival and the Payne County Fair.

“The wonderful thing about Stillwater is that there is always something going on in town,” says Rachel Burnett, Stillwater Chamber of Commerce business services coordinator. “All ages can enjoy the culture of the town, while appreciating the food, music and fun offered by local community business and organizations.”

Pence says she loves living in Stillwater because of the people. “There is a special bond in this community, and we always step up to take care of each other. My kids love their schools, too! It’s a great place to raise a family.”

Honolulu, Hawaii

With great weather and beautiful vistas, it is not hard to find a reason to get outdoors for a tennis match in Honolulu. Located on the island of Oahu, Honolulu is known for its diverse population, its welcoming aloha spirit and its year-round moderate climate. Hawaii is known as one of the healthiest states in the country, but it also has an aging population, and physicians on the island interact with patients from many ethnicities and backgrounds.

Rajive Zachariah, M.D., an internal medicine physician, moved to Honolulu for his residency at the University of Hawaii. Now, he works at Straub Medical Center, which employs over 400 physicians and serves patients in more than 32 different medical specialties.

“Honolulu has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world,” he says.

The good vibes that result from great year-round weather and beautiful scenery make a strong case to physicians considering Hawaii, but that is not all that makes Honolulu special. According to Peggy Andes, a physician recruiter at Straub Medical Center, there is something different about Hawaii’s culture that makes it attractive to candidates.

“Hawaii is unique in that our population is a blend of many diverse cultures and ethnicities. The concept of the aloha spirit—and being kind, welcoming and good to one another—is something that resonates with candidates,” says Andes.

Straub Medical Center is serious about welcoming new members to their team, as Hawaii is currently experiencing a physician shortage. “We are always looking for physicians who are interested in making a difference, providing quality care and contributing to our mission,” says Andes. The organization is currently recruiting physicians for internal medicine, family medicine, neurology, otolaryngology, cardiology and urgent access.

The medical center, which is part of Hawaii Pacific Health, has 159 beds and includes a network of neighborhood clinics on Oahu, Lanai and the Big Island, as well as a visiting specialist program that reaches throughout the state. According to Andes, Straub Medical Center is also home to the Pacific region’s only multidisciplinary burn treatment center and has been on the forefront of bringing new technologies and innovative practices to Hawaii, including minimally invasive cardiac surgery and total joint replacement.

With Hawaii ranking as one of the healthiest states in the country, physicians in Honolulu focus on keeping their patients healthy, emphasizing prevention and proactive care. Because the state does have an aging population, there is also an emphasis on chronic disease management. Given the diversity among Hawaii’s population, physicians have the opportunity to interact with patients of many different backgrounds. When serious health issues arise, Straub’s specialists in bone and joint care, cardiology, oncology, gastroenterology and beyond are among the best in the state.

When it comes to lifestyle, physicians have it all in Hawaii, says Andes. “Our moderate climate offers the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities year-round, like golf, hiking, surfing and many other water sports.” Physicians can even get their exercise on their commute to work, thanks to a recently launched city-wide bikeshare program that has a stop right next to Straub. (No fear, biking-averse: There is also a great public bus system.)

Of course, there is also tennis. The Hawaii Tennis Open, which falls around Thanksgiving, is a Women’s Tennis Association tournament sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. A relatively new event, it is only in its third year, but the world-class tennis draws a crowd.

There are also numerous tennis associations and clubs that offer opportunities for social tennis or competitive matches. The Aloha Tennis Association, the Diamond Head Tennis Center and the Beretania Tennis Club all offer a variety of different opportunities. Whether you want to play a leisurely game and meet new partners or compete in a tournament, you will find a fit among all of Honolulu’s facilities and organizations.

On the tennis court, encompassed by green space (as you are at the Diamond Head Tennis Center), it is easy to forget that a cosmopolitan city is steps away. Honolulu boasts an eclectic food scene, a shopper’s paradise, and stunning arts and culture landmarks. There is historic Pearl Harbor and iconic Waikiki Beach, as well as vibrant annual celebrations of the local arts and cultures, including Chinese New Year, Honolulu Festival, Mele Mei (a month-long celebration of Hawaiian music), the Ukulele Festival and many more.

Of course, there are lots of opportunities to soak up the beauty of nature, too.

In his time off, when he is not stand up paddle boarding or exploring a new hike, Zachariah says he sometimes likes to enjoy the view of Diamond Head—a defining feature of the landscape, whether you stand atop or below it—from one of Honolulu’s nice restaurants.

“I am reminded how lucky I am to be here every time I step outside,” he says.

Rochester, Minnesota

Rochester is home to the Mayo Clinic, which was recognized as the best hospital in the nation for 2017-2018 by U.S News & World Report. Devoted physicians, scientists and researchers all call Rochester home and can enjoy the relaxed community life that embodies the Minnesota way. With four distinct seasons, there are ample recreation opportunities whether it’s 20 or 80 degrees outside, including plenty of excellent outdoor and indoor tennis facilities.

Every two weeks, you can find pediatrician Angela Mattke, M.D., hosting a Facebook Live show called #AsktheMayoMom. As a pediatrician in the Division of Community Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center, Mattke brings in experts to talk about topics relating to pediatric health, fielding live questions from viewers along the way.

“During my third-year pediatrics clerkship in medical school, I fell in love with pediatrics,” says Mattke. “Despite being exhausted, I was excited each morning for rounds. Practicing medicine in pediatrics energized me, and still does.”

As a born-and-raised Minnesotan, Mattke earned her medical degree at the University of Minnesota, spending her first two years at the Duluth campus, where there is a special focus on producing primary care physicians dedicated to serving Minnesota’s communities.

When it came time to choose her residency program, Mattke says she was thrilled by the caliber of the education at Mayo Clinic. “The attending physicians—called consultants at Mayo Clinic—showed genuine interest in the education of their medical students and residents.”

“At Mayo Clinic, staff are surrounded by some of the most talented, experienced physicians in the world,” adds Amy Boxrud, director of physician recruitment at Mayo Clinic. “We have a strong culture of teamwork, professionalism and mutual respect where the needs of the patient always come first.”

Now, Mattke works collaboratively with other physicians to deliver the best outcomes for her patients, and it is one of the things she finds most rewarding about Mayo Clinic.

“The collaboration between medical providers—primary care, specialists, the whole care team—is what makes this place one-of-a-kind,” she says. “The needs of the patient truly come first.”

Mayo Clinic’s patient population is far-reaching, with over 1.3 million people from all 50 states and 136 countries visiting the center for care this year. The organization employs over 4,500 staff physicians and scientists and close to 59,000 administrative and allied health staff. Mayo’s extended campus comprises about 30 buildings, and the integrated medical center provides medical diagnosis and treatment in virtually every specialty.

Rochester, with a population of about 125,000, is “considered a smaller or medium-sized city with world-class health care,” says Brad Jones, executive director of Experience Rochester Minnesota. “Mayo Clinic is the community. Everything is integrated.”

According to Jones, Rochester provides plenty of opportunities for work-life balance, allowing physicians to “slide into a more relaxed community life” once they leave work.

“You don’t feel like you need to fly away to get away,” he says.

With its abundance of great schools and organized activities, the city is also known as a great place to raise families. “There’s always something to keep kids engaged,” says Jones.

The seasons in Minnesota are pronounced, and outdoor and indoor recreation activities abound regardless of the temperature outside. If you are looking to play tennis in February when a typical day is in the 20s, you can head to the Rochester Tennis Connection or the Rochester Athletic Club, both of which also have outdoor courts for when days turn warmer.

Even though Rochester is an urban area (with all the culture and benefits that go along with it), Mattke says she does not have to travel far to go hiking or biking with her family.

In the city, there are plenty of events to entice locals and visitors. Rochesterfest is the city’s annual gathering—a 10-day celebration in June that highlights the city’s people, places and food. In the heart of winter, there’s SocialICE, an outdoor ice bar experience (complete with bonfires) that celebrates the bold north. During the summer, there is a street festival every Thursday, which encourages locals to get outside and take in the good weather.

For those who need a dose of the big-city life, Minneapolis is not far away. Many who come to Rochester find the small city strikes a perfect note and has everything they want.

“People who move here, once they become ingrained in the community, they like it a lot,” says Jones.

“Rochester is a great place to live, thrive and raise a family,” adds Mattke. “The community is wonderful, and opportunities continue to develop.”

Allentown, Pennsylvania

The thriving Lehigh Valley is home to Allentown, where a major renaissance has occurred over the past several years. Featuring state-of-the-art athletic facilities, a vibrant food scene, and great schools, this city with a small-town feel is a great place for physicians to settle with their families. The Lehigh Valley Health Network has been ranked as one of the country’s top hospitals by U.S. News and World Report for 22 consecutive years, and physicians there are able to serve patients and provide excellent care that is fueled by progress and innovation.

In the mid 1960s, when Leonard Parker Pool’s wife, Dorothy Parker, had cancer, they traveled from the Lehigh Valley to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for treatment. Pool wanted her to have the best care available, and at that time, that meant going to New York City.

"It was a great place to grow up, and it's been an even better place to raise my kids," says Timothy Friel, M.D., of the Lehigh Valley. -photo by Tim Gangi Photography

“It was a great place to grow up, and it’s been an even better place to raise my kids,” says Timothy Friel, M.D., of the Lehigh Valley. -photo by Tim Gangi Photography

Pool would later donate the first large sum of money that made Lehigh Valley Hospital—then under a different name—possible. He vowed that no one in the Lehigh Valley would have to travel to receive exceptional care again, and that credo lives on in the area today.

“That has always been a core component of who we are,” says Timothy Friel, M.D., chair of the department of medicine who specializes in infectious disease at Lehigh Valley Health Network. In everything the health network does, “that message and motivation lives on.”

Friel earned his medical degree at Harvard Medical School before completing his residency in internal medicine and his fellowship in infectious disease, both at Massachusetts General Hospital. Though it was not immediately clear to Friel when he entered medical school that infectious disease would be his specialty, he was inspired by the physicians around him.

“Some of the best and most engaging mentors that I encountered happened to be infectious disease doctors,” says Friel. “It was the specialty that I found most rewarding and inspiring during my training.”

For Friel, who works heavily in the realm of HIV, the ability to work with patients over long stretches of time and to incorporate newly developed medicines and innovations in care are big reasons he loves being an infectious disease specialist. “We’re now able to manage patients in such a way that they’re living healthier lives,” he says.

As for how he landed in the Lehigh Valley? “I’m a local boy,” he says. He met his wife, who is an OB-GYN, on the first day of medical school. They both wanted to position themselves to have the best possible family life in conjunction with rewarding careers. For them, the Lehigh Valley and the chance to live close to family, combined with the community-oriented, progressive values of the Lehigh Valley Health Network, presented the best of all worlds.

According to Friel, a commitment to forward thinking is at the heart of the network’s philosophy, and has helped expand care in the HIV program and beyond. “One of the things I’ve loved about working here is that the organization has always been very supportive of new ideas, of new innovations,” says Friel. “It has always prided itself on the delivery of high quality care and putting patients first.”

“We are known for our progressive health care,” adds Brittany Kulp, a physician recruiter at Lehigh Valley Health Network. “Our physicians have strong relationships with their patients and play a key role keeping both local and visiting populations healthy and safe.”

The Lehigh Valley Health Network has eight campuses, including a 929-bed flagship facility with a Level I Trauma Center. As one of the nation’s largest medical groups, the Lehigh Valley Physician Group has more than 750 physicians and over 400 advanced practice clinicians in 59 specialties across over 160 practices, according to Kulp.

The network is actively recruiting for physicians in endocrinology, family medicine, neurology, psychiatry, urology and other subspecialties. Kulp speaks to many candidates who want to return home or be closer to family in the Northeast, but she is quick to tell candidates from all backgrounds that the Lehigh Valley is a great place to live and work.

“You can have a great quality of life, from the cost of living to good schools,” says Kulp, also noting the abundance of recreational opportunities, cultural activities, concerts and more.

Residents of Lehigh Valley often find that everything they need is at their fingertips. The area has everything from top-rated colleges and universities to minor league sports teams.

“Lehigh Valley is one of the fastest growing regions of the state, with Allentown representing the state’s third largest metropolitan area,” says Kaitie Burger, social media and communications manager for Discover Lehigh Valley. Across the region, says Burger, “there’s a fantastic mixture of small-town feel partnered with large-scale events.” Musikfest (the nation’s largest free, non-gated music festival), PA Bacon Fest (featuring hundreds of bacon-centric food and drink items), and horse-drawn carriage rides along streets lined with lights and holiday markets are just a few favorites of locals and visitors alike.

For the tennis-inclined, options abound. Winning Touch Tennis offers social, instructional and competitive opportunities to all levels, and the Oakmont Tennis Club was voted one of the 12 best places to play on red clay by Tennis Destinations.

“The Lehigh Valley truly offers something for everyone,” says Kulp. And as one of the top five regions in the northeast for development, Lehigh Valley’s renaissance continues on.

“It was a great place to grow up, and it’s been an even better place to raise my kids,” says Friel. “There’s everything we could have ever imagined here, and the area continues to grow. Over the last few years, it’s been really fun to be part of a really dynamic community. I think it continues to get better and better.”



Live & Practice

By Liz Funk | Live & Practice | Summer 2018


In small towns and metropolitan cities across the country, the great outdoors meets locals just footsteps from where they live and work. For physicians looking west, there’s Billings, Montana, where seeking outdoor adventure is a lifestyle, and Salt Lake City, Utah, a new hotbed of arts and culture that sits beneath the Wasatch mountain range.

Looking east, physicians will find rural sophistication mixed with a New England ski town vibe in Lebanon, New Hampshire. And for those who want to escape the snow for the sun and surf, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, beckons.

Billings, Montana

A drive through the area's breath taking scenery confirmed to John Pender, M.D., and his family that they'd soon make Billings home. · Photo by Erik Petersen

A drive through the area’s breath taking scenery confirmed to John Pender, M.D., and his family that they’d soon make Billings home. · Photo by Erik Petersen

In Billings, there is an undeniable sense of adventure, and that’s a big part of why people move there. Many of the physicians who work in Billings aren’t native to the area, but they chose Billings for the chance to interact with diverse patient populations or raise their kids in a place that offers affordability and endless outdoor recreation options. It doesn’t hurt that the weather cooperates: Billings has close to 300 days of sunshine a year.

The city of Billings calls itself “Montana’s Trailhead,” a nod to the outdoor opportunities for locals and visitors alike. As the largest metropolitan area within a 500-mile radius (Calgary, Alberta, and Denver, Colorado, are among your next closest options), Billings boasts a strong sense of community, progressive regional commerce and unlimited access to the outdoors.

John Pender, M.D., a bariatric surgeon and chief of surgery at Billings Clinic, recalls that one day a flier for the Montana hospital came across his desk. At the time, he was on the academic faculty at East Carolina University, acting as a fellowship director for surgical fellows. “I thought, ‘Montana, that sounds interesting,’” recalls Pender. “And here we are.”

One of Pender’s primary motivations for moving to Billings was the opportunity to diversify his areas of practice, rather than narrowing his focus. “Being in a university, they really want you to subspecialize,” he says. “I got pigeonholed to do one or two operations. Coming up to Billings, Montana, has allowed me to be a general surgeon.”

Pender says that Billings Clinic epitomizes the idea of “big city medicine in a small town.” The hospital serves patients from Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, and treats approximately 750,000 people each year. “When you’re eight hours from the next competitor, you really get to practice medicine,” says Pender.

Winter weather is a factor in treatment, too. Given that some patients live several hours from the hospital, both physicians and hospital administrators have to devise innovative solutions for patients who have chronic health challenges and who don’t live close enough to return regularly for follow-up appointments. “It creates opportunities for people to think outside the box,” says Pender. “We have a great outreach program through which the clinic provides a car or even a plane to get us out to these small communities to reach patients.”

The clinic is physician-led. “The governance policy states that the CEO will always be a physician,” says Rochelle Woods, physician recruiter at Billings Clinic. “Physician leaders are at every level, from the board to department chairs.”

More than 450 physicians and advanced practitioners cover more than 50 specialties in the 304-bed hospital, which sees 50,000 visits per year to its Level II Emergency and Trauma Center. As the largest health center in the state and the region’s tertiary referral center, the clinic has 13 regional partnerships in Montana and Wyoming. It was ranked as the best regional hospital in 2017-2018 by U.S. News & World Report, and is currently recruiting for almost every specialty, from cardiology to pediatric gastroenterology.

The hospital’s record isn’t the only point of acclaim. In 2016, Billings was named the “Best Town for Outdoor Activities” by Outside. With close proximity to fly fishing streams, the Rocky Mountains, the Yellowstone River, the sandstone bluffs known as the Rimrocks, and a 40-mile trail network that loops throughout the city, residents never tire of the outdoor offerings.

For physicians and their families, “It’s an easy city to acclimate into,” says Woods. “People come for the outdoor activities and the accessibility, so the majority of people are not from Billings. Unlike the Southeast or the Midwest, where most people move because they have family, people move to Billings for the outdoor activities and to raise kids where they can easily be outside.”

The welcoming and friendly nature of the people who call Billings home also makes the city ideal for newcomers, according to John Brewer, CEO of the Billings Chamber of Commerce. “Despite the connectivity and big-city amenities, Billings maintains a small-town feel with people who seek authentic connections and take the time to look you in the eye and make you feel welcome,” he says. “Ask people what they love about Billings and you will receive responses that in some way relate to the goodness of the people in the community.”

Though the great outdoors is one of the area’s main attractions, it easily coexists with a vibrant arts and culture scene. Popular annual events include the Magic City Blues festival, Symphony in the Park and the Big Sky State Games, an Olympic-style competition held each July. There are farmers markets, car shows, street dances and evening festivals during the summer, which residents can enjoy in between rappelling the Rimrocks, strolling along the Yellowstone River, or skiing nearby mountains, just to name a few options.

“Billings has balance,” says Brewer. “It’s large enough to experience the community at your own pace, but small enough to still run into friends at the grocery store. In Billings, despite the national economic challenges, business is strong, residents are enjoying life, and the scenery is as wonderful as the quality of life.”

That quality of life, says Pender, has made a huge difference for his family. “All year round, we do stuff as a family—hiking, camping, floating on the Yellowstone River. It really has brought us closer as a family.”

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah, is celebrating an era of new vibrancy. The redevelopment that heralded the 2002 Winter Olympics has helped reshape Utah’s capital into a hot spot for arts, culture and community—not to mention outdoor adventure, as the city is nestled in a valley beneath the towering Wasatch Range. In addition to the excellent quality of life, physicians in Salt Lake City enjoy a patient-centered approach that prioritizes the well-being of the community.

Tim Johnson, M.D., spent his undergrad and med school years at the University of Utah. Then it was on to Rochester, New York, where he completed his residency at the University of Rochester before doing a chief year in 2006. But though he only has great things to say about his experience as a physician in Rochester, he still missed Utah, and decided to move back and start working for Intermountain Medical Group in 2006.

Johnson practiced general internal medicine at the hospital for five years before being named regional medical director of Intermountain Medical Group. In 2015, he became an administrative medical director, and in 2017 was promoted to senior medical director. Even in his leadership role, he still sees patients on Thursday mornings.

“Intermountain is very patient-centered,” he says. “From a clinical perspective, as I practice medicine, I get to think about what is best for the patient. It doesn’t mean I don’t think about the financial aspects, but it’s not the first thing I think about.”

“Safest care, patient quality of care, patient access to health care…those are first,” he adds. “I love that we have a sense of duty not just to our patients, but also to our communities.”

In addition to the 504 beds at Intermountain Medical Center, which has a da Vinci robot, expanding telemedicine service and a cancer research center, the health system has another 21 hospitals across Utah, plus one in Idaho. According to Intermountain Healthcare physician recruiter Deanna Grange, about 39,000 employees and 1,500 physicians work for Intermountain’s wide network of hospitals and clinics.

“We’re a not-for-profit, integrated health system,” Grange says. “Even though the future is constantly changing, we’re in good shape because we’re a united front.”

Intermountain Healthcare currently has about 100 openings for physicians in specialties including neurology, psychiatry, gastroenterology and OB-GYN.

“If someone is serious about their profession yet requires almost-immediate access to year-round recreation and a very high quality of life, they’d be hard pressed to find a more ideal location,” says Shawn Stinson, director of communications of Visit Salt Lake.

According to Stinson, those who are unfamiliar with Salt Lake City, or who have not visited in the past 10 or 15 years, will likely be pleasantly surprised by what they find in the Salt Lake City of today. “Trust me when I say, those of us who have lived here for some time know, understand and appreciate the perceptions that Utah’s capital city is saddled with, but those days are fading rapidly,” he says. For instance, while many first-time visitors might associate conservatism with the city, Salt Lake City has an incredibly strong LGBTQ community, and in 2016 elected Jackie Biskupski, an openly gay woman, as mayor.

Sitting in the shadow of the Wasatch Range, Utah’s capital attracts professional skiers, climbers and cyclists as well as weekend warriors who take advantage of the rock climbing, biking, hiking, snowshoeing, camping and fishing options, not to mention Nordic skiing or snowboarding at the 10 world-class ski resorts within an hour of downtown.

Unbeatable access to the outdoors makes for an incredible lineup of annual events, which include Oktoberfest at Snowbird and Tour of Utah, a week-long professional cycling race. Summer outdoor concerts and year-round festivals also highlight the arts and culture scene, which Stinson says is “on par with some of the nation’s finest.”

“There’s so much to do; I don’t have to travel virtually anywhere,” says Johnson. “I’m looking out the window now at the beautiful mountains. In 10 minutes, I could be hiking up the trails or snowshoeing. Ski resorts are 12 miles away from my house. A lot of people that are interested in Utah are interested in outdoor sports, and there is the opportunity to be very active here.”

When Johnson reflects on his decision to move home to Utah, he’s certain it was the right move.

“My values align with Intermountain’s and what I’m trying to accomplish, and I feel completely engaged in helping Intermountain achieve amazing things for our communities and our patients,” he says.

Lebanon, New Hampshire

 A love of skiing and the outdoors brought Gillian Sowden, M.D., from Scotland to New England. · Photo by Cate Bligh

A love of skiing and the outdoors brought Gillian Sowden, M.D., from Scotland to New England. · Photo by Cate Bligh

Sitting at the crossroads of New England is Lebanon, New Hampshire, a small town in a picturesque region that is home to top health care and educational institutions. With four distinct and beautiful seasons—and outdoor recreation options to match—the area offers sophisticated rural living and is a decidedly great place to work, play and raise a family.

Many major and minor highways lead to and from Lebanon, but the spirit of the outdoors permeates everything in this iconic small town in New Hampshire’s Upper Valley. Dartmouth College and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center serve as focal points for Lebanon area business and culture, employing thousands of people between them, and are both sources of pride for a town that recently celebrated the 250th anniversary of its founding.

For Gillian Sowden, M.D., a Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center physician, the fact that she became a psychiatrist working in New England is in some ways a surprise. Sowden grew up in Scotland, and wanted to be a vet for most of her young adult life.

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“In Scotland, you have to decide what you want to study right out of high school,” she says. “At 16, I could have gone to college. I was a huge science nerd. I studied biology and wanted to figure out a way to have a career that combined my love of learning and science with helping others.”

Instead, she left home to attend ski school in Norway. But even though she made the British biathlon team for Nordic skiing and shooting, she realized it was not going to be a career.

Because she didn’t want to stop skiing, she applied to medical schools in the U.S. that had ski programs and earned her undergraduate degree at Williams College. She met her now-husband at Williams, and decided to stay in the U.S. to attend medical school at Harvard.

“I went to med school thinking, I’ll do anything but psychiatry,” she says. “But in my first psychiatry rotation, I was struck by the relationship between patients and the physician.”

While Sowden completed her residency in Boston, she and her husband often talked about where they wanted to settle with their twin boys. “We were looking for a cute New England town that had an academic center because that felt like home.” They found Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and as Sowden says, “It’s been perfect.”

“This place is so unique,” she says. “It’s this small New England ski town with a massive medical hub. At the same time, you have all the amenities of a city here because of Dartmouth College. You have Division I athletics, a million festivals, events and theater.”

Professionally, Sowden has found Dartmouth-Hitchcock to be a perfect fit. “My colleagues are incredibly smart and capable physicians, but they are also very grounded and down-to-earth, kind people. It’s fun to be able to collaborate in such an intellectually stimulating yet warm environment,” she says. “I also work with medical students, and it’s important to me to combine that. It’s open and engaging, rather than that pressure cooker feeling.”

“It’s very collegial, very respectful,” agrees Kyle R. Hayman, manager of talent acquisition for clinical operations at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. “People work well together. We are trying to achieve the healthiest population possible and essentially transform health care not only in our region, but ultimately setting the standard for our nation.”

The 396-bed academic medical center is the hub of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock system, which includes four affiliate hospitals and 14 ambulatory clinics spread between New Hampshire and Vermont. With a network of 1,135 physicians and 10,000 employees, the hospital network serves around 1.9 million patients across the upper northeast.

In 2016, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center was named one of “100 Great Hospitals in America” by Becker’s Hospital Review. Innovative facilities include the Williamson Translational Research Building, which accelerates lab research into patient care, and the Center for Surgical Innovation, a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to improving surgical procedures.

“We have an MRI and CG machine that is able to move in and out of our operating room,” says Hayman. “For surgeries that are really delicate, that can make the difference between restoring someone’s ability or causing permanent disability. It’s curing cancer versus missing a bit of a tumor. It’s priceless to the individual patient.”

Right now, Dartmouth-Hitchcock has recruiting needs in virtually every area, according to Hayman, citing primary care, psychiatry, dermatology and neurology as acute needs. As for what would entice someone to live and work in the Upper Valley, there is no shortage of reasons.

“If you like to downhill ski, cross-country ski, hike or camp, this is the place. We have lakes and rivers if you like to boat or kayak or row,” says Hayman. “I also hone in on our location; we’re just a couple hours from a handful of larger cities. It’s nice to be in a small, safe community with fantastic public schools and activities for children, and also be able to drive an hour or two and experience a big city for a night or the weekend.”

The Lebanon area may also be attractive for physicians whose partners may be looking for employment, as the city is a hub for business. Though the resident population is 13,500, the daytime population, due to commuters and shoppers, is over 50,000. According to Rob Taylor, executive director of the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce, many of the region’s flourishing companies can “trace their lineage back to the college or the hospital.”

Lebanon is also home to miles of scenic trails, as well as the “Northern Rail Trail,” which is built on the former railroad bed between Lebanon and Concord, New Hampshire. “We have many recreational opportunities, from boating and cycling in warm months to skiing and skating in the cold months,” says Taylor.

“The nature of this area was the biggest attraction,” Sowden adds. “Everything we read said this was one of the greatest places to raise kids. It really rang true. My kids have the life I wish I had. Don’t get me wrong, my childhood was good, but theirs is just awesome. This winter, they are skiing every weekend. They’re little ski stars already at age 5.”

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

In Fort Lauderdale, residents enjoy miles of sand and ocean and great weather year-round. Gaining a reputation as a “mini Miami” because of its sophisticated, welcoming culture, this city of 2 million knows how to enjoy life and all the area has to offer. Physicians will discover diverse patient populations here, not just the significant Medicare demographic.

Adam Lessne, M.D., has been a physician at Gastro Health in Fort Lauderdale for a year and a half—a position he’s been working toward since high school.

Lessne attended Nova High School, a magnet school in Florida. Already with a strong sense of his career ambitions, he applied for and was accepted into a seven-year medical program at Boston University.

After graduating from Boston University, he landed at Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he completed his residency, then completed a fellowship at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. While he says he enjoyed his time in Boston and New York, he wanted to live and work in a place that was closer to his family and friends.

When Lessne interviewed with Gastro Health, he says that “meeting the partners sealed the deal.” In his discussions with the practice’s physicians, he learned that they do community work in area hospitals, where they take care of patients whether they have insurance or not.

Patients who are treated at Gastro Health are essentially visiting a patient-centered medical home for their digestive system. If a patient needs a procedure or a surgery, they can often be seen the next day. There is a pharmacy service, a radiological service and fusion center on site, so if a patient has an acute problem, it can be treated then and there.

Gastro Health has more than two dozen locations in South Florida, employing close to 100 gastroenterologists. According to physician recruitment manager Alexis Feldman, “there is no shortage of need for physicians in the Fort Lauderdale area.”

Gastro Health is recruiting gastroenterologists in Palm Beach County, the Naples/Fort Myers area and Broward County.

Gastro Health, Feldman says, “is an excellent option for gastroenterologists who are interested in private practice with the support of a large, financially stable organization.” Despite the organization’s corporate structure, she adds, each care center “maintains an individual culture and family that makes each office feel like home.”

Many physicians in the region encounter this welcoming atmosphere not only in the office, but also saturated in the culture and communities of Florida, particularly in the lively and sophisticated downtown areas. Says Feldman: “In my opinion, the best part of southeast Florida is the diversity. Fort Lauderdale and Miami draw people from all over the world, which has created a community where all are welcome.”

“Greater Fort Lauderdale is a very welcoming and diverse destination,” agrees Jessica Savage, vice president of public relations for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We embrace residents and visitors of every culture, origin and sexual identity. Our area is also very cosmopolitan. We have an extraordinary culinary scene, an eclectic mix of foods, and top chefs putting creative twists on their dishes.”

Locals and visitors can relax along the New River during Sunday’s outdoor jazz brunches, taking in the beautiful weather and water views, or stroll down Las Olas Boulevard and experience shopping, galleries, restaurants and nightlife. Popular annual events include the Las Olas Art Fair, the Tortuga Music Festival, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, and the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival—among many, many others.

There is also the outdoors, which is focused on the water culture of the region. As Feldman says, “If you love the beach, Fort Lauderdale offers miles and miles of sand and ocean. I moved down here from Chicago three years ago and can attest to the true bliss that such easy access to the beach and consistent sunshine brings.”

In addition to swimming and sunning, residents can find adventure on biking trails and nature walks—or, like Lessne, by taking to the canals with his paddleboard or exploring the rivers on his inflatable kayak.

“Being outside is the best part of South Florida,” he says. “Here, even in the winter, you can be outside….I make fun of my friends in the northeast when it’s Christmas Day and I’m walking around in shorts and sandals.”

For now, Lessne is happy to have come full-circle, making his way back to his original goal of being a gastroenterologist in a place where he is close to family and can regularly enjoy time with his nephews, siblings and parents.

“I feel very lucky that I found the right group, the right partners and a place that allows me to focus on professional development,” he says. “I’m thrilled to be in the perfect place.”



Live & Practice

By Liz Funk | Live & Practice | Spring 2018


A small population size can mean a tight-knit community, even if residents hail from far-flung places. Locals from the communities on this list pride themselves on being welcoming to others, ready to share in the abundant natural wonders and cultural offerings that epitomize their corners of the world. If you explore any of these gems, know that many a tourist have visited and declared, “I never want to leave!”

Sedona, Arizona

In Sedona, Arizona, locals are surrounded by spectacular natural beauty, including the iconic red rock formations often featured on postcards from the area. Physicians in Sedona often have opportunities to establish relationships with their patients. The patient population is comprised of residents (many of whom enjoy active lifestyles year-round, thanks to Sedona’s mild climate), as well as tourists and outdoor adventurists drawn to the region.

Many residents of Sedona are transplants from other parts of the country. Blame “red rock fever” for this: People come for vacation, fall in love with the area’s stunning natural beauty and opportunities for outdoor recreation, and decide to make Sedona home.

Ed Eppler, M.D., an emergency medicine physician who attended the University of Washington School of Medicine and completed his residency at Indiana University School of Medicine, landed in the small city of Sedona after deciding to become a traveling locum tenens physician. In addition to working on his own, Eppler also worked with the staffing agency Envision Physician Services, which placed him in Sedona for one of his first assignments.

“It has been over-the-top awesome,” says Eppler. “Envision has tremendous opportunities, and they make it relatively easy for physicians to navigate through licensing, credentialing and scheduling.”

In Sedona, Envision Physician Services operates Verde Valley Medical Center, a free-standing emergency department. The Cottonwood campus of Verde Valley Medical Center, also operated by Envision, is just a short distance away, and is a Level IV trauma center. On the Sedona campus, which has laboratory, radiology, orthopedics and primary care outpatient clinics, in addition to the emergency department, physicians also have access to a TeleStroke program, through which patients can be remotely “seen” by a neurologist from the Mayo Clinic.

Though the Sedona campus emergency department has only four treatment rooms with five beds, according to Envision Physician Services Recruiter Anthony Martinez, there is no shortage of excellent care at the facility. In the category of overall quality of care, the facility “consistently ranks above the 90th percentile from Professional Research Consultants, Inc.”

There is also no shortage of exciting employment opportunities. Envision actively recruits board-certified or board-eligible physicians in emergency medicine, family practice and internal medicine for the emergency department on the Sedona campus. According to Martinez, the staffing agency offers a variety of opportunities across more than 1,000 centers, including full-time employment, independent contracting, and locums capabilities, which is how Eppler found Envision, and subsequently, Sedona.

When Martinez speaks to prospective candidates for the Sedona campus, he emphasizes that the lower-volume environment (in comparison to highly trafficked urban medical centers) allows for stronger relationships between physicians and their patients—not to mention the high quality of care physicians can provide to each person who walks through the medical center’s doors.

With a median age of 57 among the core population, plus an estimated 3 million tourists exploring the area each year, physicians play a critical role in keeping both local and visiting populations healthy and safe.

Staying healthy is important to residents and visitors alike, who take every opportunity to explore the outdoor splendor Sedona offers. “There is so much to do on the land,” says Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. “Hiking, biking, mountain biking, meditation. We joke that God made the Grand Canyon, but he lives in Sedona. It’s true!”

While many people visit the Grand Canyon’s rim to check it off their bucket list, Wesselhoff says Sedona is more accessible for exploring. “You can get into the rocks and land pretty easily and be immediately hiking and biking.”

Many people also gravitate to Sedona to experience its mediation and spiritual offerings, as Sedona was considered sacred land for Native Americans, according to Wesselhoff. The town offers meditation and spiritual retreats and world-class wellness spas quietly tucked alongside institutions steeped in small-town charm. The most meditative activity is sometimes as simple as stepping outdoors for a few moments.

“When you’re surrounded by beauty and nature, it puts everything in perspective,” says Wesselhoff.

In addition to attracting top medical talent, the area also has a vibrant community of entrepreneurs and other professionals who have made a conscious decision to move to Sedona. “People who live here absolutely want to be here and love it,” says Wesselhoff, nodding to the sense of community and sense of place that are both vital aspects of the Sedona experience. “You can really create that here,” she says. “It’s hard to do in a big place. It’s easy to get lost. But in Sedona, it’s easy to make a difference. That’s what I love about it. One person in Sedona can make a tremendous impact.”

Eppler, for his part, has found a rewarding professional experience at Verde Valley Medical Center, while also enjoying the richness of opportunities in the area. “Sedona and the surrounding area has too many wonderful outdoor opportunities to list,” he says. “It’s simply amazing.” He says he loves biking and running, in addition to skiing in the nearby town of Flagstaff, and enjoying the incredible scenery, culture and restaurants.

To put it simply, Eppler says, “What’s not to love?”

Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan, isn’t on the way to anywhere—and that is why people love it. The small city, which has a year-round population of 15,000, boasts an undeniable sense of community. Residents take pride in the area’s stunning beaches, green vineyards, charming downtown district and ample cultural activities. Physicians will find a state-of-the-art nonprofit regional referral center, and families will be welcomed into a friendly, thriving community.

Locals of Traverse City, which is located on the shores of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, enjoy a four-season paradise that offers something for everyone.

There are opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, golfing, skiing and snowshoeing, plus an extraordinary range of dining and wine and beer tasting options. It has a healthy tourism industry that peaks the first week of July, when the National Cherry Festival celebrates Traverse City’s title as Cherry Capital of the World. Traverse City has a small-town vibe with big-city amenities—and residents who care deeply about the area’s heritage, as well as their neighbors.

Kelsey Knaack, D.O., a hospitalist born and raised in Traverse City, recently returned to the area to work at Munson Medical Center through iNDIGO Health Partners. Her husband, Joel, is also a hospitalist, and she recalls they agreed upon the excellence of the Munson Medical Center. “Especially for young physicians, there is nothing more encouraging than to enter into a strong group of practitioners,” she says, adding that her partners have a wide range of backgrounds, from providing care in rural settings to working in practices or outpatient facilities prior to starting hospital medicine. “We have folks who are fresh out of residency and folks who have been practicing for 30 to 40 years,” she says. “I love it.”

Knaack says she has been passionate about medicine since she was young, though she was momentarily sidetracked with plant physiology and ethnobotanical studies while studying at the University of Michigan. After deciding she wanted to pursue medicine and that she was passionate about the osteopathic discipline, she attended the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University. Afterward, she returned to Michigan and completed her residency at Genesys in Grand Blanc. Though she was not home to Traverse City yet, she did meet her husband, Joel, then an internal medicine resident, during residency. They both took jobs within a large hospital system in Saginaw, Michigan, before deciding to return to Traverse City. When the couple started having children, Knaack knew it was where she wanted to be.

“We moved a year and a half ago, and we couldn’t be happier,” she says. During summers, they spend as much time as possible on the beach with their kids, who are 5, 4 and 2. The winter season provides a variety of outdoor activities as well.

“Traverse City is an outdoor paradise,” she says. “It’s absolutely stunning. Everything we do here is wrapped around the beautiful water and the beautiful outdoors.”

Knaack also loves her job in part because of the diversity among patients and cases. “Practicing in this community, we draw from such a wide range of areas, and we have folks coming from far reaches of the state,” she says, adding that some patients have not had any type of medical care for many years. That sometimes means Traverse City physicians see and treat rare pathologies. “Folks are under the impression that you only see those ringer cases in big cities, but that has not been my experience,” she says.

Munson Medical Center is the only verified Level II trauma center and the only neonatal intensive care unit north of Grand Rapids, which is more than two hours away. The center has 439 beds and the region’s largest medical staff, with over 500 physicians representing 57 specialties. According to Tracey Kukla-Aleshire, manager of physician recruitment at Munson Healthcare, the center has received repeated national recognitions, making the list of 100 Top Hospitals 14 times. It is home to an award-winning heart program and the Cowell Family Cancer Center, and is also designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission, says Kukla-Aleshire.

And they are looking for new candidates in dermatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, neonatology, ophthalmology, psychiatry and more, including subspecialties.

When she introduces candidates to the region, Kukla-Aleshire explains how Traverse City is not only a great place to work, it is also a great place to live—no matter where your recreational interests lie.

“Traverse City offers something for everyone,” she says. “From a safe, welcoming community with excellent schools, to festivals, concerts, recreation and a vibrant foodie scene, Traverse City is a place people visit and never want to leave.”

Even with all its attractions, Jenny Jenness, media relations manager of Traverse City Tourism, acknowledges with pride the best thing about the region is the people who live there. “It’s no secret, Traverse City isn’t on the way to anything,” she says. “The people who are here have chosen to be here, and they’re deeply passionate about caring for this town now and for preserving it for generations to come. Life here is intentional, and you experience that sentiment in everything.”

She also echoes Kukla-Aleshire’s comment about Traverse City offering something for everyone. “I’m amazed that when I say this, I actually mean it. There’s something here for every interest.” Locals and visitors can find year-round adventure and recreation opportunities in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which was just named the “Most Beautiful Place in America” by Good Morning America. The food and drink scene is not short on accolades, either, having been called one of “America’s Top 5 Foodie Towns” by Bon Appétit. With 40+ wineries and 20 breweries, many featuring craft beers, experiencing the full breadth of Traverse City’s gastronomic delights definitely requires pacing yourself. The ideal growing conditions mean wine and beer offerings proliferate, as do tart cherries, which are featured in the National Cherry Festival, or “the ultimate celebration of Traverse City heritage,” according to Jenness.

“There is no shortage of great stuff to do,” says Knaack, adding that because many of her partners have small children as well, activities with colleagues are always centered around family and are kid-friendly. The area’s strong sense of community permeates the hospital environment, too.

“As a mom in medicine with a busy schedule, it’s comforting to know I can turn to my partners and say, ‘My kid has a Christmas program,’ and they say, ‘Hand me your pager.’ That’s not always a guarantee for parents in medicine because of the hours we put in. This group emphasizes making it happen for each other.”

“It can’t be beat in that regard, as a place to live and raise a family,” Knaack says. “You can also have a very successful, strong medical practice, and it’s amazing to have that duality.”

Pittsfield, Massachusetts

“The Berkshires are a wonderful place to practice osteopathic medicine,” says Amanda Staples Opperman, D.O. “I initially followed a mentor to the Berkshires, and it just felt like home.” Photo by Angela Mia Photography

“The Berkshires are a wonderful place to practice osteopathic medicine,” says Amanda Staples Opperman, D.O. “I initially followed a mentor to the Berkshires, and it just felt like home.” Photo by Angela Mia Photography

Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is located in the heart of Berkshire County, a rural mountain region in western Massachusetts. Outdoor adventure, a vibrant economy and the farm-to-table lifestyle are all accessible in this picturesque area, which also offers a low cost of living in comparison to nearby cities like Boston and New York. Physicians are part of the tight-knit medical community, which is always working to innovate and bring new services to the area.

Amanda Staples Opperman, D.O., now associate program director of internal medicine at the Berkshire Medical Center, drove through western Massachusetts long before she ever relocated there for work. She recalls traveling through the area on her way to Ithaca College, where she earned her undergraduate degree, and thinking there was something beautiful and magical about it. “As you drive west on the Mass Pike, you start climbing, your ears pop, and as you pass over the Appalachian Trail, something seems to change,” she says. “It’s both comforting and exciting at the same time.”

After earning her degree at Ithaca College, Opperman completed additional pre-med classes at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine before attending medical school at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in southern Maine. She says she fell into her specialty, which is primary care internal medicine with a focus on lifestyle and integrative medicine for optimal health. Says Opperman, “I was originally interested in women’s health, and through experiences in my training, realized that the best realm for me to do that was in primary care.”

“Women are instrumental agents of change in families, so that was my main focus,” she says. “Then I followed my interests and what came naturally to fit my patients’ needs. I’ve found that integrating nutrition, stress reduction and lifestyle factors, like daily movement, has led to incredible improvements in my patients’ lives, and the lives of their families.”

For Opperman, Berkshire County was the perfect place to nurture and hone her practice. “The osteopathic philosophy really resonated with my own values and view of health, and the Berkshires are a wonderful place to practice osteopathic medicine,” she says. “I initially followed a mentor to the Berkshires, and it just felt like home.”

Liz Mahan, a physician recruiter at Berkshire Medical Center, says a strong sense of community within the health system and beyond contributes to the area’s high quality of care and life. “I think there’s a pretty strong sense for everybody working within Berkshire Health Systems that we are caring for our friends, our family and our neighbors. It’s a tight-knit community within small towns throughout the Berkshires and within Berkshire Health Systems as a whole,” she says. “We frequently receive feedback from prospective job candidates about how much people seem to care, and that speaks a lot to the kind of community we have here.”

Berkshire Health Systems is the parent organization for Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington, the Berkshire Visiting Nurse Association, and numerous Berkshire Medical Center and Fairview physician practices. The practices cover a range of specialties including primary care, orthopedics, surgical services, bariatric surgery, oncology and radiation oncology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, OB-GYN and numerous other disciplines.

The Berkshire Medical Center is licensed for 298 beds, and has outpatient clinics and programs throughout the community, including Operation Better Start, which helps children and families prevent and overcome obesity. Community lectures also bring awareness directly to residents, and topics include wellness, cancer prevention and treatment, orthopedic care and treatment, and more. Among other initiatives, a community outreach team also provides free blood pressure screenings.

According to Michael Leary, director of media relations at Berkshire Health Systems, the organization has “invested significantly in technology,” and facilities now have state-of-the-art imaging and operating suites, hyperbaric oxygen chambers for wound care, da Vinci robotic technology for urology and gynecologic surgery, a MAKO robotic system for knee and hip replacement, high-speed linear accelerators for cancer patients, and advanced therapeutic endoscopy technology. “One of the benefits of working here specifically is that the health system works to innovate, bringing as many services as possible,” adds Mahan.

According to Mahan, Berkshire Medical Center is currently recruiting physicians for its hematology, oncology, orthopedic surgery, internal medicine, rheumatology, dermatology, ER, trauma, acute care surgery and anesthesiology departments. Similar to medical centers across the country, there is also a huge need for internal medicine.

According to Opperman, the Berkshire Medical Center is a rewarding place to work. “Almost all of my mentors from residency are now colleagues and have truly made me feel valued as part of the health system.”

Lindsey Schmid, marketing director at 1Berkshire, an economic development organization for Pittsfield and western Massachusetts, cites the high quality of life coupled with the relatively low cost of living as one of the area’s main draws. “You can pay for a house here for what it would cost you to buy a parking spot in New York City,” she says. However, western Massachusetts is still incredibly culturally vibrant, which goes back to the boom it saw during the Gilded Age, when millionaires built their summer homes in the Berkshires.

“Today, people come here to be inspired,” says Schmid. “Writers, photographers, artists—they’ll come here to pick up on that history and that energy.” Entrepreneurs, too, are vital to the creative economy, and it is not just food trucks, according to Schmid. Anyone who wants to be creative and make an impact on the community can leave their mark here.

“Everyone’s story of how they got here is just so interesting,” says Schmid. “I think because 80 percent of the land is undeveloped, it’s easier to access your creative potential without the noise of the city around you.”

Popular attractions include Tanglewood (the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra), the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCa), the Gilded Age mansions, and Edith Wharton’s home, the Mount.

Opperman and her husband welcomed their son in the fall of 2016, and they spend time outside during every season, soaking up the quintessential New England feel. “Whether we are in the yard planting flowers, hiking in nearby Kennedy Park, exploring a quaint village for the day, paddleboarding on Stockbridge Bowl, snowshoeing with friends in the winter, or apple picking and pumpkin carving in the fall, there’s always something to do in nature.”

The region also boasts a farm-to-table lifestyle that, thanks to the bounty of working farms in the area, is an authentic part of daily life in the Berkshires. “We are able to get amazing locally grown organic produce at Berkshire Organics Market, but we get out to the farms, too, to meet the farmers and see where our food is grown as often as we can,” says Opperman.

“To this day, I still learn of new things to see and do from patients, and I’ve been here for seven years now,” says Opperman. “The Berkshires has layers, and I haven’t found one I didn’t like.” That includes her experience as a physician working alongside a cadre of dedicated colleagues that care for their patients, and who are also neighbors and friends. Says Opperman, “It has been empowering to grow and develop into the clinician I am today, with such support from the health system and a true focus on patient-centered care.”

Beaufort, South Carolina

“Community oriented, patients first” is how Stephen Larson, M.D., describes the culture at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. Photo by Paul Nurnberg

“Community oriented, patients first” is how Stephen Larson, M.D., describes the culture at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. Photo by Paul Nurnberg

Charleston without the traffic? That’s Beaufort, South Carolina, a charming coastal town located on Port Royal Island, one of the largest Sea Islands. Residents take every chance they can to enjoy the area’s beautiful waterways, and the moderate year-round climate means almost every day can be spent outdoors. Coupled with numerous walking districts, friendly residents and excellent health care, Beaufort is an ideal location for physicians to practice medicine in a patient-first, physician-focused environment, while finding tranquility during off time.

Stephen Larson, M.D., medical director for emergency medicine at Beaufort Memorial Hospital, chose emergency medicine because of his affinity for bringing stability to a situation in chaos. “I like taking something that has fallen apart and restoring order,” he says. One of Larson’s medical school mentors, John Stone, M.D., was an emergency medicine pioneer, shepherding the idea that emergency medicine specialists should be able to treat all emergencies, rather than delaying treatment while waiting for input from consulting specialists.

After training with Stone and others at Emory University, Larson put his education to the test when he completed his emergency medicine residency at Alameda County Medical Center in Oakland, California. At the time of his residency, Larson recalls Oakland was experiencing a tremendous amount of street violence and drug use. “We saw very serious medical conditions,” he says. “It was a four-year emergency medicine training program by fire. That experience had me prepared for everything.”

After his residency, Larson joined a local group at a small practice in Berkeley, California, and after 10 years, started to take on leadership within the group. After that, he took an administration-focused leadership position in St. Louis. Because he was at that point affiliated with TeamHealth, the organization that manages Beaufort Memorial Hospital’s emergency department, he was ultimately able to move to his current leadership role.

Larson says Beaufort Memorial differs from how many other hospitals operate. “It’s administered and operated by a local board, not owned by a big corporate entity or large for-profit system.” he says. “We are truly a standalone community hospital. It’s becoming more and more unique.” While there are financial challenges that come with being board-operated, Larson says “we’re mustering our own course.”

As the largest hospital between Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, Beaufort Memorial is busy, seeing 55,000 patients each year. “We are two to three times busier than the other local hospitals by the bigger cities, which means we’re able to offer a lot more complex services,” says Larson. Additionally, the hospital is the top employer for physicians in the area, and is very physician-friendly, according to Larson: “Community oriented, patients first.”

Zarina Manwah, senior clinical recruiter for emergency medicine at TeamHealth, adds that despite a challenging health care environment, “our emergency medicine clinicians are ready for each patient that comes through the ER doors.”

“For 35 years, we’ve provided support services, networks of communication and educational resources, and we’ve brought together a community of thousands of emergency medicine professionals to share and shape best practices,” says Manwah. TeamHealth partnered with Beaufort Memorial in January 2013, and Larson joined in connection with that relationship.

When Manwah talks to candidates about life in Beaufort, she is quick to share the variety of cultural offerings, both old and new, that make the small city a wonderful place to live. “Beaufort is filled with many historical mansions,” she says. “Art galleries, antique shops and modern boutiques dot the entire downtown and uptown walking districts, along with fine dining and quick eateries.” Plus, she says, the moderate climate means you can dine al fresco often.

“People find Beaufort very charming, very friendly,” says Robb Wells, vice president of tourism at the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a 300-year-old city and close-knit community. Many of us are not originally from here, but it was inviting enough that we wanted to call it home, and we act like we’ve been here the whole time.”

Beaufort’s proximity to the Beaufort River, an intercoastal waterway, means locals and visitors alike can always be found enjoying the water. “If you don’t find somebody on the water, they’re trying to get to the water as fast as possible,” says Wells. The annual Beaufort Water Festival celebrates the region’s most beloved natural resource with nightly concerts, air shows and raft races. Food festivals, including a shrimp festival, make summer a highlight. The region’s attractions and atmosphere are particularly great for kids, which is why some people relocate to Beaufort from Charleston once they have a family.

Beaufort and Port Royal are also home to three military bases, which train over 20,000 marines each year. While much of the military population is temporarily stationed in the area, others are located there permanently, and Wells says that many military families retire to the area after they transition out of service.

And—no surprise—lots of physicians in cooler climates are ready to call Beaufort home.

“I get calls all the time from doctors in Ohio and the Midwest looking for a way to escape the heavy winters,” says Larson. “South Carolina is definitely a desirable place to practice.”



Family-friendly cities

Finding a new place in which to practice is just as important to your family as it is to your career. Make it a good choice for both.

By Liz Funk | Live & Practice | Winter 2018


Amanda Beach, M.D.

Amanda Beach, M.D., convinced her brother and parents to relocate to Carmel, Indiana, about 25 minutes from downtown Indianapolis.

When deciding where to practice, physicians weigh many factors: what health systems operate hospitals and clinics in the area, opportunities for career growth, what the patient population is like, and proximity to family. Of course, for many physicians, whether the area is a good place to raise a family is a top priority. The quality of local schools, the availability of family-friendly leisure activities, and the general quality of life are all important considerations for physicians with families.

If you fall into this category (or think you may soon), consider Carmel, Indiana; Owensboro, Kentucky; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Rockville, Maryland as strong options.

Carmel, Indiana

In Carmel, physicians can enjoy the benefits of living in an area with several amenities and activities while enjoying a high quality of life, especially in the context of easy commutes and friendly people. Alternatively, physicians can take advantage of the ample career opportunities in nearby Indianapolis. This Midwest health system hub is a mere 25 to 30 minute drive from Carmel.

For Amanda Beach, M.D., life in Carmel is a family affair. “I have always loved science, and I come from a huge family of engineers. I thought I might want to do something biomedical. I really liked anatomy. But I also wanted to form connections with people. I thought, that’s what physicians do, especially pediatricians. You get to watch people grow up. That’s how I decided on pediatrics,” says Beach.

Beach attended the University of Dayton in Ohio. While an undergraduate, she volunteered with a children’s hospital in Dayton, which cemented her professional path. She attended the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago, and placed with Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis for her residency.

When Beach began job searching, she saw a pediatrician opportunity with St. Vincent Medical Group, a subsidiary of Ascension, the country’s largest nonprofit health system. She applied and was hired.

“One of my reasons for my move to St. Vincent was that I wanted to be somewhere for a long time and work with patients over a long period. Unless a family moves, when you’re a pediatrician, you stay with people for a while. You get to see people have siblings,” says Beach.

St. Vincent Carmel has a special focus on women and families. In 2015, the 121-bed hospital opened the St. Vincent Carmel Women’s Health Center. Says Seth Turner, a primary care physician recruiter for St. Vincent’s Health, the hospital is proactive about acquiring cutting-edge technology to support their patient care. Says Turner, “One of St. Vincent Carmel’s featured offerings is an Advanced Breast Care program with care navigators and the newest 3-D mammography technology, tomosynthesis, which is considered the ‘mammogram of the future,’ especially for women who have dense breast tissue. This machine can take a three-dimensional snapshot allowing radiologists to look for tumors layer by layer, almost like flipping the pages of a book.”

Additionally, says Turner, St. Vincent Carmel offers da Vinci robotic surgery for gynecological and other surgical procedures, and breast oncology and reconstruction surgery. The hospital also operates a Women’s Cardiac Risk Clinic. Turner is currently recruiting for hospitalists, internal medicine physicians and nocturnists.

St. Vincent’s main campus is in Indianapolis, 25 minutes from Carmel; St. Vincent Hospital is the flagship location of St. Vincent Health. Indianapolis has several prominent health systems that operate or are headquartered in the city. Franciscan Health operates Franciscan Health Indianapolis, a hospital known for its full-service heart and vascular care program. Indiana University Health (IU Health) operates three hospitals in Indianapolis, including IU Health University Hospital, IU Health Methodist Hospital, and Riley Hospital for Children.

IU Health also operates IU Health North Hospital in Carmel, a 189-bed hospital with all-private patient rooms, including private NICU and PICU rooms.

Says Mark Clarke, a recruitment associate for IU Health Physicians, “IU Health North Hospital features maternity suites with whirlpool labor tubs, two cesarean section suites conveniently located adjacent to maternity beds, and 16 technologically advanced surgical suites with a focus on non- and minimally-invasive procedures.”

IU Health North Hospital provides a broad range of services, including bariatrics, neurology, obstetrics, plastic and reconstructive surgery, radiology, sports medicine and urology. Clarke is part of the 12-person team of physician recruiters working to bring physician talent to Indiana and specifically to Carmel.

“There is a lot of growth in Carmel, especially in the city center area,” says Whitney Riggs, communications coordinator at Hamilton County Tourism. “This is one of the main areas where there are a lot of new restaurants and shops. Our midtown is also in the process of growing a lot.”

Despite being a small town, Riggs says that Carmel has “big city things to do.” In the summer, Riggs says there are scores of free concerts and events, including the popular annual Greekfest in August.

“I originally lived in Indianapolis,” says Beach. “My husband and I moved to Carmel a year and a half ago. We looked around and thought, ‘Hey, this is a great place to have a family.’ We have a 4-year-old, and we really like that it’s an active community. There are great schools. It’s really safe.”

Beach also appreciates that her work as a pediatrician helps her become better acquainted with local families. “One of the things I especially like about living and working here is that I see my patients out and about; I know their families and they get to know mine.”

Beach means this in more ways than one. She and her husband bought a house in Carmel, and they immediately clicked with the area. She shared with the rest of her family how much she enjoyed living in Carmel—and her brother decided to relocate there. Then, so did her parents. “My parents definitely wanted to be close to their only granddaughter,” says Beach.

“The area has great schools,” Beach says. “The city really cares about maintaining our school system. They try to keep the city and the community really nice.” Beach is emphatic that Carmel is not just a good place to have a family; it is a good place to be a parent with a career. “It’s very conducive to being a working physician mother. It was not hard to find a great day care. I live two minutes from my daughter’s day care, and my office is two doors down. When my daughter reaches kindergarten, her school will be walkable from my house.”

Lincoln, Nebraska

If you are looking for a city where you can have a fast-paced career with a high quality of life, Lincoln, Nebraska, may be the perfect fit. Physicians can practice in Lincoln, a city made especially colorful on game days by the University of Nebraska community and its red-clad sports fans who flock to the area. Physicians can even choose a rural lifestyle just outside the city limits, without adding too much time to their commute.

Daniel DeFreece, M.D., is a born-and-raised Nebraskan, and can vouch for it being a great place to grow up, to advance one’s medical career, and to raise a family.

“I grew up in a rural area, so raising our family in a rural area was appealing to my wife and I,” says DeFreece. “I think a lot of family practice doctors enjoy the relationships that they develop with patients over time—and especially so when you’re in a more moderately-sized market. That all appealed to me. So, 21 years later, here I am.”

DeFreece lives in Nebraska City, just outside Lincoln, and works for The Physician Network, a subsidiary of Catholic Health Initiatives. CHI operates hospitals and clinics across Nebraska. “I’m half-time medical director for quality, and I spend the second half of my time working in family practice,” says DeFreece. “The network has multiple clinics and doctors in it, of which my clinic is one. I help them with the quality aspect for multiple locations in our area—Lincoln, Crete, Kearney, Grand Island. It’s a very large physician network.”

DeFreece learned early on that he was interested in family practice. “I went to the University of Kansas Medical Center. We spent two years in Kansas City, and then UK flips it and for the second half, you go to Wichita, Kansas,” he says. “It’s a clinical rotation, and it’s a much more community-based program where you are working with doctors in private practices.” Spending time learning from physicians in private practice “definitely flavored my decisions,” says DeFreece. “I went to Lincoln Medical Education Foundation for three years of family practice residency.”

DeFreece enjoys practicing with The Physician Network. “There is a much bigger emphasis on providing quality medical care, as far as patient satisfaction, providing the right medical care for the right person, and doing it in a cost-effective way,” he says. “We have a great network of doctors. It’s a rapidly changing health care world; being a supportive group with good leadership is a must because there are so many things changing. I think that’s why you see a lot of doctors joining groups.”

Says Terri Bangert, a physician recruitment specialist for The Physician Network/ CHI Health: “In Lincoln, because of the university, we’re a very active, very healthy system. Lincoln is the state’s capital, but it’s also home to the University of Nebraska.” The football stadium accommodates up to 92,000 people coming to see the Huskers play. “Saturday is a flood of red,” Bangert says.

In Lincoln, CHI operates CHI Health St. Elizabeth, a 260-bed full-service hospital. The hospital has a neonatal intensive care unit, a cardiovascular line and a pediatric surgery line. The hospital is also the accredited burn trauma center for the entire area. Says Bangert: “I’m recruiting for specialties across a broad spectrum: primary care, internal medicine, family medicine, cardiothoracic surgery, pulmonology, critical care, neurosurgery, neurology, nephrology and emergency medicine.”

Another employer of physicians in the Lincoln area is Bryan Health. Bryan Health operates the Bryan Medical Center West and East Campus. There are 640 beds between the two campuses. Carol Friesen, vice president of health system services for Bryan Health, sees her organization as an advantageous place for younger physicians to accelerate their careers. “Our medical staff leadership at Bryan has traditionally been very young,” says Friesen. “We’re not like, ‘You have to be in the last 10 years of your practice to become a leader.’ Physicians have this opportunity earlier in their careers than other communities.”

Friesen says that 80 to 90 percent of physicians who come for a site visit sign an offer letter. Outside of the professional development opportunities at Bryan Health, Friesen attributes the high level of interest to life in Lincoln. “When we’re recruiting, we get people with ties to Lincoln or to the state. But we have a lot of physicians we’ve recruited from the coasts who are looking for a great place to raise their families.”

Curtis Klein, director of talent and healthcare services for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development, says, “Lincoln is a big small town. We’re a quarter of a million people. …You can feel like you can be part of the scene pretty easily.”

There’s also no need to figure in costs for private education because Klein says Lincoln is known for the strength of its public schools. “The public school system has very high graduation rates and various acceleration programs,” he says. “Lincoln Public Schools does a really good job of keeping up with the times, offering all the services and programs to stay at the forefront of meeting students’ needs.” Klein notes that Lincoln high schools have just finished their second year of The Career Academy, a program that allows juniors and seniors in high school to enroll simultaneously in a local community college, where they can take classes that satisfy high school graduation requirements and help them earn college credits.

When they are not in class, students and their families can enjoy a variety of great activities in Lincoln. DeFreece has three children, ages 21, 19 and 15. He says that the outdoorsy nature of their Nebraskan lifestyle lends itself to active family activities. “We do a lot of things outdoors; we like to golf and go boating. The kids do baseball and soccer and participate on the swim team. When your kids are school-age, you get involved in lots of the school activities.”

Owensboro, Kentucky

Thomas Waring, M.D.

After time in New York and Connecticut, Thomas Waring, M.D., found a home in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Home to one of the nation’s most highly-regarded playgrounds, Owensboro takes “family friendly” to a new level. For families interested in Owensboro’s vibrant culinary scene, bibs are a must for kids and most adults: Owensboro takes its barbecue very, very seriously.

Thomas Waring, M.D., knew early on in life he was drawn to medicine, particularly helping individuals requiring urgent medical care. “I started working on an ambulance when I was 16. I was an EMT for many years, all through high school and college,” he says.

Waring attended Molloy College in Rockville Centre, New York, located on Long Island approximately 20 miles east of New York City. Waring was a senior in college on September 11, 2001, and he was one of the first ambulance responders. “They asked for additional ambulances to come. We got a crew together, and we went into the city,” says Waring. His ambulance was staged at New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, blocks from ground zero, and the team stayed overnight. Waring described the situation as “chaotic.”

The experience fully solidified his interest in critical care. He attended Ross University School of Medicine and completed his residency at Rochester General Hospital in upstate New York. Waring completed a fellowship in pulmonary/critical care medicine at the University of Connecticut.

After two years in Connecticut, an advertisement from Owensboro Health caught Waring’s eye. “I came to visit the hospital and thought it was gorgeous,” Waring says. “I came down for a second look and decided it was where I wanted to be.” At Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, Waring works in a hospital-based private practice. He finds the combination of the work that he’s doing, the personality of the patient population, and the culture of the organization to be a winning combination. “I really like managing the very sick and critically ill. The patients are very appreciative. The hospital is more like a big family; everyone works well together and the patients really appreciate what we do.”

Owensboro Health Regional Hospital provides service to 14 counties, 2 in southern Indiana and 12 in western Kentucky. Says Mitchell Sims, manager of physician recruitment for Owensboro Health, “We are licensed for 477 beds. We have a Level III NICU, which is the largest NICU west of Louisville. We have two da Vinci robots and 16 operating room suites.” On average, 1,800 babies are born each year at the hospital.

Part of what keeps Owensboro Health Regional Hospital so busy is that it serves a large region and a large patient population. Located in Daviess County, Kentucky, Owensboro has a metropolitan population of about 100,000 people, yet Owensboro Health Regional Hospital is the only hospital that operates at that scope within a 45-mile radius.

Owensboro Health also operates 25 outpatient locations, with three more locations in progress. Owensboro Health Medical Group employs more than 180 providers, spanning over 30 specialties. Sims is currently recruiting for several new physicians across a wide range of specialties, including gastroenterology, neurology, pulmonary critical care, outpatient family medicine, non-invasive cardiology, rheumatology, psychiatry, outpatient pediatrics, geriatrics and sleep medicine.

Sims says that Owensboro offers more than just a job. The city has made a strong effort to offer big-city entertainment and facilitate residents’ active, vibrant lifestyles. Says Sims, “The community recently completed a $300 million renovation to the downtown area that has brought in a lot of new businesses and restaurants. Another big draw downtown is a park that was named the No. 1 playground in the world by Landscape Architects Network.” The park, Smothers Park, sits on the Owensboro waterfront and features a very large, fully accessible playground and interactive water fountains.

Says Mark Calitri, president and CEO of Visit Owensboro, “Owensboro has just been honored as a ‘2017 Playful City USA’ for the second time by KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit. This honor represents the city of Owensboro putting the needs of families first so kids can learn, grow and develop important life skills.” Calitri says that Owensboro Parks and Recreation runs a total of 23 parks and that Owensboro families tend to be active: walking, cycling and hiking are popular family activities.

“Owensboro is known for the three B’s: barbecue, bourbon and bluegrass,” Calitri says. A new International Bluegrass Music Museum is under construction, and families can also visit the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art and the Owensboro Museum of Science and History. The Owensboro riverfront is also host to an annual family-friendly event, the International Bar-B-Q Festival.

Waring sees many positives to life in Owensboro, particularly as it pertains to quality of life and cost of living. “The East Coast is much more fast-paced,” says Waring. In Owensboro, he says, “the lifestyle is much more laid back. The cost of living is much cheaper here. I’m paying about half of what I’d be paying for housing in New York or Connecticut. Sometimes it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you get to keep.”

Rockville, Maryland

If you are looking for a diverse, family-friendly family-friendly place to raise your kids, look no further than Rockville, Maryland. The average age of a Rockville resident is 39—meaning that most people are parents of young children, eager to bond on the sidelines of sports tournaments. The area’s proximity to Washington, D.C., provides ample job opportunity as well as access to world-class museums, restaurants and entertainment.

Jude Alexander, M.D., describes Rockville, Maryland, as embodying the “Goldilocks principle”: “It’s not too hot; it’s not too cold. It has history, and you can easily get to the beaches, to the mountains—anywhere you want to go.”

Alexander attended the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, so more moderate temperatures were an appealing draw.

Alexander is an internist and psychiatrist. He moved to the Washington, D.C., area in 2003 and started a hospitalist company in the area with a business partner. “At that time, I was going around D.C. after residency building the business,” he says. Alexander says it was an era when hospitalist programs were taking off, and his was no exception.

“The hospitals feel like they get more value for the dollar, and they’re working with a group that’s really far ahead of other hospitalist groups. They are getting best of breed and more value for the dollars they invest,” says Alexander. It was a good deal for the doctors, too. “My doctors have loved it. It has worked out both ways.”

In 2014, Alexander reflected on the company’s success and started brainstorming how to take it to the next level. It was time to explore having the practice acquired by a larger health care company that could scale and grow the hospitalist group.

“We looked at every conceivable option under the sun. To me, the only option was Sound Physicians,” a physician-owned hospitalist management health care organization. Says Alexander: “We looked at big groups along the Atlantic and national health systems, and Sound Physicians had the right culture, the right leadership, the right reputation, and all the right structure and tools to sharpen our game and take us to the next level.”

Sound Physicians acquired Alexander’s company and named him Regional Medical Director for the Capital Area. “It’s been easily the most important and successful decision I’ve made; it turned out absolutely wonderful,” Alexander says.

Says Jill Albach, clinical recruiter for Sound Physicians: “Quality, teamwork, service, integrity and innovation are of paramount importance to Sound Physicians, and they are the cornerstones of each of our programs nationwide.” Sound Physicians has a large presence in Rockville, with many of their providers working at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, a 331-bed acute care facility that is part of the Adventist HealthCare network.

Sound Physicians is expanding, especially in Rockville, and recruiters are looking to bring top medical talent to the area. Says Albach, “We are hiring for day and night hospitalists for this program at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center and other locations in the greater Baltimore/D.C. area, as well as hospitalists, intensivists, emergency physicians and transitional care providers nationwide.”

Albach says Rockville is an excellent place for physicians to consider relocating, especially if they have a family and school-age children. “It is a vibrant, highly-educated community that offers cultural and historical experiences,” says Albach. “Rockville’s public schools are ranked second overall in the state of Maryland.”

Kelly Groff, president and CEO of Visit Montgomery County, says Rockville is especially family-friendly. “One of the especially appealing things is that the city of Rockville, which manages the community and provides services for residents, does a really good job with parks and recreation. They have great classes for kids, and sports teams and leagues for kids year-round.”

Groff says Montgomery County also has one of the best public school systems in the country. Montgomery County also offers a rich, informal cultural education. “Thirty-four percent of the population was born outside of the U.S. It’s a very diverse community.” Additionally, Groff said nearby D.C. is like “a historic playground” and just a short ride away via the Metro.

Alexander, who is married and has two children, describes the experience of raising a family in Rockville as “fantastic.” “You want to have access to good public schools. Some of these schools are number one in the country,” he says. “Montgomery County overall is full of affluent, international, well-educated people. The cultural exposure that your family gets is great.”



Live & Practice

By Liz Funk | Fall 2017 | Live & Practice


When we are looking at a potential place to live, we all have different desires and criteria: cost of living, area population size, quality of local schools, culture and entertainment offerings, and availability of outdoor activities. If “excellent local golf courses” is on your list, you will want to have a few golf towns in particular on your radar.

Grand Junction, Colorado

In Grand Junction, Colorado, locals enjoy more than 300 days of sunshine each year, which certainly aids local golfers in getting to the greens. For physicians, there are ample job opportunities at hospitals that position Grand Junction as a medical hub, drawing patients from surrounding counties for care.

In Grand Junction, residents enjoy excellent weather, breathtaking panoramas and scores of outdoor activities, like hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and golf. In the context of this outdoorsy town of 60,000 people, there is a strong job market for physicians. So much so, that a husband and wife pair of physicians with unique professional focuses could find jobs and build careers with St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction.

Brian Davidson, M.D., who trained as an anesthesiologist at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, became aware early in his career that there was a need for doctors’ perspectives in hospital leadership.

“It always bothered me through medical school and beyond that there weren’t more physicians making decisions in health care,” Davidson says. “Then I realized that it wasn’t so simple, and that it requires education and experience.”

Davidson earned his MBA in health care administration at the University of Colorado Denver, and completed a health care administration fellowship at the University of Colorado Hospital. Davidson became the vice chair for the anesthesiology department and served in leadership roles at the University of Colorado Hospital.

Davidson’s wife, Amy Gagnon, M.D., also has deep ties to the University of Colorado.

“I did my undergraduate degree and medical school at the University of Colorado,” she says. “I knew from medical school that I wanted to do maternal fetal medicine. I was interested in the medical complications and the ultrasound aspect of maternal fetal medicine. I was fortunate to match at the University of Colorado for my residency and a three-year fellowship in maternal fetal medicine.”

When a top position at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction, Colorado, opened, Davidson interviewed and was hired. He’s now president.

The hospital, part of SCL Health, also had a need for a maternal fetal medicine specialist, and Gagnon was hired as well.

“It’s a complex hospital in a relatively rural area,” Davidson says. “We provide a lot of services here, and they’re services that are not typically found in a smaller area like this. We have two helicopters and a plane, and a strong aeromedical program. A third of our patient volume comes from outside of our county, Mesa County. We’re a Level II trauma center, but we act like a Level I trauma center. We have a Level III NICU. We offer cardiac surgery and neurosurgery, and we have a primary stroke center.”

The nearby Community Hospital, a 501(c)(3) non-profit hospital in Grand Junction, is also equipped to provide a variety of services.

“We have state-of-the-art equipment in a state-of-the-art facility,” says Ryan Schultz, director of physician relations for Community Hospital. “We employ several surgical specialties. We have a fellowship-trained general surgeon. We have an OB-GYN surgical women’s clinic. We have an occupational medicine clinic and community care clinic.”

Community Hospital is a 60-bed facility; 24 of these beds are in fully private med-surg rooms. The hospital also has eight LDRP rooms and a 12-bed intensive care unit. Additionally, Community Hospital operates nearly 30 outpatient clinics.

Schultz is most heavily recruiting for primary care physicians. “Our organization has always been an outpatient focused hospital. It all starts with primary care,” says Schultz.

When Schultz speaks to prospective job candidates who are not familiar with Colorado, he has good news to deliver about the Grand Junction area, especially in relation to the weather.

The city averages more than 300 days of sun each year, with a traditional four-season climate and low humidity.

The comfortable weather is one of the many lifestyle components Shultz discusses with potential employees.

“When I’m talking with prospective candidates, we talk a lot about the lifestyle of living in Grand Junction,” Schultz says. “They are attracted to here for the outdoor lifestyle. They’ll say, ‘We’re avid hikers and we enjoy backpacking and golf.’ If candidates are looking for not just a place to work, but also a place to raise a family and build a life, they’ll usually bring up their interest in outdoor activities in that first phone screen.”

Schultz says when he is recruiting for Community Hospital, it is attractive when physicians mention their love of the outdoors, as it indicates they will be a good cultural fit in more ways than one.

“We have this active outdoor culture with a really affordable cost of living,” says Mistalynn Meyeraan, marketing and public relations director for the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau. “The town itself is 60,000. The greater community—we’re a valley—is 140,000. We have four seasons. We have amazing orchards. We are a hub for produce and for wine—this is Colorado wine country.”

Of course there is also golf, a popular activity as long as one can train their focus on their swing, rather than on the beautiful surrounding mountain ranges.

“One of our courses has a backdrop of this dramatic red rock canyon,” says Meyeraan.

Like many area residents, Davidson and Gagnon are hiking enthusiasts.

“The hikes around here are great. Having grown up in Denver, the hiking available in Grand Junction is just as good, if not better,” Gagnon says. “It’s nice to be able to work your day at the hospital and then be outside.”

Gagnon said there is even a hiking trail within five minutes of the hospital that offers several miles of scenic hiking.

“We call them ‘lunch loops’ because some people will go for a little hike on their lunch hour,” she says.

The plethora of outdoor activities is not the only draw for prospective candidates. Davidson says the environment at St. Mary’s is much like a family.

“It’s the second largest employer in all of Mesa County. We employ 2,400 people. So approximately 1 in every 50 people in the town work here. One in 25 have a family member work here,” Davidson says. “It makes work less distinct from the rest of the your life. The community within the hospital is really strong.”

Toledo, Ohio

In family-friendly Toledo, Ohio, there are 26 public golf courses in addition to numerous courses owned by private clubs, many of which offer programs to introduce children and teens to the game. Coupled with excellent job opportunities and an easygoing patient population, Toledo is an ideal location for physicians to practice medicine (and their swing!).

Daniel McCullough, M.D., a bariatric surgeon for ProMedica Physicians General Surgery, appreciates how his work resolves a problem for patients, as opposed to treating a symptom. “Oftentimes in medicine, when you’re working with a patient, you’re treating the symptom or you’re managing the symptom; but you’re generally not able to cure what’s going on. With weight loss surgery, in a year when your patient has lost weight, they don’t have diabetes anymore or they don’t have high blood pressure,” he says.

McCullough says that he discovered his calling—weight loss surgery—in a roundabout way. McCullough was born and raised in Toledo. He completed his undergraduate, graduate and medical degrees in Ohio and a fellowship in Virginia. “I originally wanted to be a hematologist. I did my undergrad at Miami University of Ohio and earned a degree in chemistry,” he says.

McCullough moved to Columbus, Ohio, to pursue his master’s in medical biochemistry and nutrition at The Ohio State University. He conducted research on medical weight loss and third stage trials for weight loss.

“We worked with patients making changes in their diet, exercise [and] nutrition; medical weight loss is any non-surgical approach to weight loss,” McCullough says. “Across the hall, the bariatric surgeons were working with patients who were losing weight and keeping it off. I came to realize that the recidivism rate for medical weight loss was problematic. It was extraordinarily high.”

After that discovery, McCullough decided to train to become a bariatric surgeon.

“My first rotation was with Mark Kligman, M.D., an excellent bariatric surgeon and my mentor in the whole business,” McCullough says. “He pulled me over to the dark side; I already had this dual interest in nutrition and weight loss. At the time, bariatric surgery was still in its infancy, but the seed was planted in my head.”

Today, McCullough is a bariatric surgeon for ProMedica, a health system with four hospitals in metro Toledo and 12 hospitals across northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. There are more than 900 physicians and advanced practice providers employed by ProMedica.

Another major health system in the Toledo area is Mercy Health, a Catholic health care ministry that operates three hospitals in the greater Toledo area and four hospitals within an 80-mile radius of Toledo. In Toledo, Mercy Health – St. Anne Hospital is a 128 bed facility; Mercy Health – St. Charles Hospital is a 410 bed facility; and Mercy Health – St. Vincent Medical Center is a 568 bed facility.

“We are broad in terms of the fact that we have everything from a Level I trauma center to the region’s only burn and reconstructive skin center. We are comprehensive stroke certified. We have the only 24/7 mobile stroke unit in the country,” says Tom Leeds, director of medical staff recruitment at Mercy Health. Additionally, all of Mercy’s metro Toledo hospitals have a da Vinci Robot, including the new da Vinci Xi surgical system.

Leeds says that, at any given time, he recruits for 45 to 55 positions. “The focus in our market for Mercy Health is primary care, neuroscience, vascular surgery, orthopedics and pediatric subspecialties,” he says.

Toledo has a population of 280,000 and a metro population of 600,000.

“There are an inordinate amount of great things to do in the Toledo area,” says Richard Nachazel, president of Destination Toledo. “We have an internationally acclaimed museum of art. We have a beautiful smoke-free casino. The casino has one of the best steakhouse restaurants in the city. We have two iconic professional sports teams: the Toledo Mud Hens, who are popular in baseball circles, and the Toledo Walleyes. They’re a hockey team and they just won their division. They made playoffs for the Kelly Cup.”

And then, of course, there is golf. Toledo has contributed significantly to the history of golf.

“A man named S.P. Jermain was known around the United States as the father of public golf,” Nachazel says. “He built the first golf course west of New York City here in Toledo, Ottawa Park. It was built in 1899. In 1920, they added a second nine holes.”

S.P. Jermain also founded the Inverness Club, opened in 1903, which is today a well-known course that has hosted two PGA Championships and four U.S. Opens.

In 2021, the Inverness Club will host the Solheim Cup, which, according to Nachazel, “is the highest level of professional golf competition for lady golfers.”

However, no need to be intimidated by the Inverness Club’s stature.

Nachazel says that, because golf is part of the culture in Toledo, many courses are family-friendly and even encourage children to learn the game.

“There is a young people’s golfing program at courses in the area called First Tee. Inverness has a First Tee program,” Nachazel said. “The whole goal is to build the popularity of the game with youngsters. I am teaching my grandson and granddaughters. The courses in Toledo are very welcoming to children.”

“If you like to golf, Toledo is great,” McCullough agrees. “There are fabulous golf courses, public and private. There are more than two dozen golf courses within Toledo.”

McCullough’s leisure time tends to revolve around his family, including his three children, who are 15, 12 and 10.

“Toledo has a lot of activities for kids,” McCullough says. “We have one of the best zoos in the country and a great children’s museum downtown.”

Overall, McCullough says the best part of living and practicing in Toledo is the friendly, easygoing people. Their congenial nature makes patients easy to work with.

“One of the best parts of practicing in Ohio is the people,” McCullough says. “Patients show up for appointments, they listen to you, and they are grateful. Toledo is a great place to practice medicine. I love it.”

Franklin, Tennessee

Millard Collins, M.D.

Millard Collins, M.D., is an advocate for both primary care and the Nashville area. He also serves on staff at Meharry Medical College.

Located just outside Nashville, Franklin, Tennessee, is perfectly situated for doctors, families, country music lovers and golfers alike. Its sunny weather and southern hospitality infused with the hustle and bustle from the nearby metropolis makes Franklin a best-of-both-worlds hub for physicians.

Millard Collins, M.D., has a passion for family practice. He is the interim chair and an associate professor of family and community medicine at Meharry Medical College, the medical school affiliated with Nashville General Hospital, a teaching hospital with 125 beds. Collins also serves as the associate dean for student affairs at Meharry Medical College.

“Being a native New Orleanian, I attended Xavier University of Louisiana, the only black Catholic institution in the nation,” Collins says. “They are a leader in guiding black students toward the health science professions; some people say there is a pipeline between Xavier University and Meharry Medical College.”

Collins knew as an undergraduate that he wanted to work in health care. He was accepted to Meharry Medical College, where he completed four years of training. During that time, he decided to pursue family medicine and sees himself as an advocate for family practice today.

Collins says that there are negative messages that medical students absorb about family practice that keep them from pursuing the specialty, thus creating the shortage of family practice providers that many hospitals and health systems experience.

“I have been surprised to learn that not all medical schools have family practice as a required rotation. The message that is sent to learners is, ‘It’s not important, you don’t make as much money, it’s plan B, etc.,’” he says.

Rather, Collins says that some family practice doctors like the steady schedule of working in an office, while others engage their entrepreneurial spirit and start their own family practices.

“Much of my career has been dedicated to setting the record straight,” he says. “I want to let students know about the versatility of family practice.”

Another physician employer near Franklin is LifePoint Health, a publicly-traded company that owns and operates 72 hospitals in 22 states. LifePoint operates Southern Tennessee Regional Health System Lawrenceburg, a full-service community hospital south of Franklin.

Jess Judy, LifePoint Health’s senior vice president for physician relations, says that a great deal of the medical staff at Lawrenceburg live in Franklin. Judy says physicians “don’t get lost in the shuffle of a large metropolitan market,” and have the opportunity to truly focus on patient care.

“Our hospitals are very engaged in clinical quality and patient experience,” Judy says. “LifePoint Health as a company—and I think this is a real differentiating factor—is the only national for-profit hospital company in the country that participated in the Hospital Engagement Networks. This was a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation program to drive and improve quality. LifePoint was a participant, and we met or exceeded all of our quality and harm reduction goals across the country.”

Furthermore, Judy said that a key factor that distinguishes Lawrence Hospital is its affiliation with a multihospital system.

“It has the depth of resources of a large corporation as opposed to a freestanding community hospital,” Judy says.

Life in Franklin seems to echo this best-of-both-worlds theme of having the comfort of a southern community with a high quality of life, infused with some of the energy and action of nearby Nashville.

“We’re located 17 miles south of Nashville. That is a convenient place to have a hub of health care,” said Matt Maxey, PR coordinator for Visit Franklin. “Williamson County, where Franklin is located, is the most affluent county in Tennessee. Lots of physicians and folks in the health care industry live here. We have the top school system in the state.”

Maxey says Franklin has a distinct southern feel, especially when one strolls down the historic downtown Main Street area.

“The whole county has done a great job to preserve the small-town atmosphere while still providing all the services of a bigger town,” he says.

These services, of course, include golf. Maxey says Franklin has two public golf courses and about 30 private clubs. He also says the PGA hosts a tournament in Franklin in June each year.

Collins is just one of the physicians who takes advantage of the area’s great golf. He especially enjoys Hermitage Golf Course, a public course that was rated top public course in the state of Tennessee by

“I like to get out and play during tournament times. It’s a great way to talk to people, to get to know people over four and a half hours,” Collins says. “Our area has some of the most beautiful golf courses.”

When Collins first considered attending Meharry Medical College, he had a certain picture of the area in mind.

“The only thing I thought was that it was a country music city. Boy, was I wrong. Nashville epitomizes diversity. It’s a city heavy on education, [with] lots of colleges and universities. The city and the surrounding suburbs are growing exponentially. It’s a great central hub. When I first came here, I was surprised! But now I’m very, very glad to call it home.”

Augusta, Georgia

John Farr, M.D.

“You can find me at one of four places. I’m at church, I’m at the hospital, I’m with my family, or I’m on the golf course,” says John Farr, M.D.

Any conversation about top golf towns in the United States would be incomplete without Augusta, Georgia, home to the Masters Tournament. Golf fans flock to Augusta each year in April to participate in the festivities.

“We have a little tournament here that’s pretty fun,” says John Farr, M.D., chief medical officer of Doctors Hospital in Augusta, referring to the Masters. “Golf is real big here. We have lots of options. We can play golf here year-round, 365 days out of the year.”

Farr started golfing in college. His interest in medicine developed even earlier, after his grandfather passed away from a heart attack.

While at the Medical University of South Carolina, Farr focused his studies on family medicine. He was interested in the emphasis on preventive medicine and the deep relationships that family physicians have with their patients.

Farr served in the Army as a family physician for 21 years, 16 of which he spent at Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Augusta. Approximately 10 years ago, he started making the transition toward administrative medicine.

“I really enjoyed the ability to impact medicine on a larger level, which you’re able to do on the administrative side of the house,” Farr says.

When Farr was ready to retire from the Army, Doctors Hospital in Augusta offered him an opportunity to join their administration, which he accepted. Today, he is the organization’s chief medical officer. Doctors Hospital is a tertiary medical center with 354 beds.

“We have a great team of people in this hospital who are really dedicated to our mission,” Farr says. “We take care of patients and their families to the best of our ability. It’s a fun place to come to work.”

Farr also has high praise for life in the Augusta area. It is where he raised his two teenaged daughters, and where he has spent the better part of his life.

“Augusta is a great size city. It offers a lot without being too big,” he says. “I like the climate, I like the friendliness of the community, I like being in a military community, and it’s a great place to raise a family.”

Another attractive quality about Augusta is the relatively low cost of living and ease of finding affordable housing, says Julian J. Nussbaum, M.D., an ophthalmologist, professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology, and chief executive officer of Augusta University Medical Associates.

“I have many faculty members who were able to afford a home right away,” he says. “I even have residents who have families who are able to buy a home in Augusta, stay for a few years, and then sell their homes when they leave. They don’t need to rent an apartment.”

Nussbaum is emphatic about the area’s high quality of life and its economic fortitude.

“The military’s entire cyber-command station is located in Augusta. We were relatively recession-proof in 2008 because of the number of government positions here,” Nussbaum says.

Augusta University Medical Center is expanding. Nussbaum’s team recruits across a wide spectrum of specialties, including cancer therapy and medical and surgical oncology; bariatric surgery; pulmonology and certain subspecialties in ophthalmology, such as retinal surgery and neural ophthalmology; cardiothoracic surgery and cardiology; and gastroenterology.

Augusta University Medical Center also operates the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, and Nussbaum says he recruits candidates for nearly all pediatric specialties.

When Nussbaum and his recruitment team talk to physicians interested in joining their organization, they make sure to mention the area’s warm weather and plethora of activities, including golf.

Not a golf fan? Deterred by crowds? Not to worry.

“One of the other things that people may not know is that quite a lot of people rent their houses out—their full-time residences—during that week [of the Masters],” says Lindsay Fruchtl, vice president of marketing and sales for the Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau. “A lot of the residents sometimes go out of town during the Masters and make some extra money.”

Though some residents choose that route, Farr is one Augusta resident sure to not miss a golf event.

“I often say that you can find [me] at one of four places,” says Farr. “I’m at church, I’m at the hospital, I’m with my family, or I’m on the golf course. That is a very focused and intentional way that I live my life.”




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