Live & Practice: Sports Towns 2019

By Liz Funk | Fall 2019 | Live & Practice

 

Virtually every town or small city has a local flavor and a sense of regional pride. For towns and small cities home to major universities with well-known sports programs, that local spirit is amplified.

In Syracuse, New York, the Syracuse University college basketball program makes the snowy winters something to look forward to. In Lexington, Kentucky, in addition to the equestrian sports that the city is famous for, the University of Kentucky sports fans take their teams seriously. In Lawrence, Kansas, the enthusiasm over The University of Kansas sometimes calls for city streets to be closed during the NCAA playoffs. And in Storrs, Connecticut, the University of Connecticut women’s basketball program is king—or rather, queen.

Living in an area with a large university sports program usually involves scores of other benefits for physicians: diversity, culture, arts and entertainment.

Lawrence, Kansas

Dr. James Naismith, known as “the father of basketball,” was also the first basketball coach at The University of Kansas. The fervor for sports in this college town—particularly KU basketball—is deeply ingrained in the culture.

Steven Stites, M.D., attended medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He completed a fellowship at The University of Kansas Hospital and built a career there. The two schools are rivals—but Stites has found a happy compromise. “I am a rare breed,” he says. “I’m a ‘TigerHawk,’ cheering for both KU and MU!”

Stites is a pulmonary and critical care specialist as well as the interim executive vice chancellor for the KU School of Medicine. “I specifically treat patients with cystic fibrosis or those who have had a lung transplant,” says Stites.

Choosing his specialty came easily: “This is something I truly enjoyed and loved to do from the first day of residency,” he says. This specialization also brought him to The University of Kansas Hospital for a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine.

The University of Kansas Health System employs over 1,000 physicians across 200 specialties. The University of Kansas Medical Center is a 773-bed teaching hospital. On the main campus, there are outpatient clinics for nearly every specialty, says Debbie Gleason, a physician recruiter for The University of Kansas Health System. The University of Kansas Health System operates more than 80 inpatient and outpatient facilities in the greater Kansas City area.

“Our featured services include cancer (we have an NCI Cancer Center designation), diabetes and endocrinology, geriatrics, neurology and neurosurgery, urology, cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery, gastroenterology and GI surgery, nephrology and pulmonary,” Gleason says.

Roughly 2 million people live in the greater Kansas City area, which includes Lawrence. The area, says Gleason, “is a breath of fresh air when it comes to the friendly Midwest lifestyle, lower cost of living and a wide variety of smaller communities—everything from downtown loft apartments near the heart of nightlife to quiet suburban neighborhoods.”

Stites agrees with this assessment. “My family and I love Kansas City because it feels much like a small town but has the diversity and opportunities of a larger city. Kansas City is a place to call home.” Stites and his family—he has three children—are active with their church and are outdoors enthusiasts. They like to go fly fishing in the Ozarks.

Lawrence has a tradition of creating big sports fans. “Lawrence is absolutely a sports town. We are a tad fanatical about our sports teams,” says Andrea Johnson, director of marketing and communications at Explore Lawrence. “Our high school squads have a long tradition of state championships. Haskell Indian Nations University has given the world the Olympians Jim Thorpe and Billy Mills. And, of course, this is Jayhawk Nation. The University of Kansas Jayhawks track and field team has gold medal in its blood.”

“Jayhawk basketball” is another source of immense pride for the community in Lawrence. The Jayhawks men’s basketball team has won five national championships. Additionally, more than 80 KU men’s basketball players have played or are currently playing in the NBA. Says Johnson, “It influences the culture all the time, but especially so during the spring when strangers become friends connected by the excitement of March Madness. If the Jayhawks reach the Sweet 16 and beyond in the NCAA tournament, expect impromptu parties downtown… we may even shut down the streets!”

Syracuse, New York

As chief resident, Robert Corona, D.O., discovered a love for leading others. He’s now CEO of Upstate University Hospital. – Photo by Leo Timoshuk

Syracuse University’s dynamic presence brings entertainment, an educated populace, and of course, serious basketball to this small town in central New York. For physicians, the area’s largest employer is Upstate University Hospital, an academic hospital affiliated with the State University of New York (SUNY).

When Robert Corona, D.O., was an undergraduate pre-med major at Ithaca College, he developed a swollen lymph node. “I was told I had Hodgkin’s disease,” says Corona. Corona consulted with his pre-med advisor, who was an osteopathic physician. “He felt the lymph node, and he said, ‘Do you have a cat?’” Corona says. “I did. He said, ‘I think this lymph node is cat scratch fever, not lymphoma.’ When I went to a pathologist, my results were consistent with cat scratch fever. From then on, I was totally hooked on osteopathic medicine.”

Corona was born and raised in central New York. He attended high school in Skaneateles, a town 30 minutes outside Syracuse in the tourist-friendly Finger Lakes region known for its water sports and wineries.

Corona attended the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine in Long Island. Says Corona, “I got an internship focusing on pathology and neurology, and it really was a monumental moment for me. I was impressed by the approach.”

As chief resident, Corona discovered that he enjoyed leading others in a hospital setting. During his tenure at Upstate University Hospital, he has served as chair of the pathology department up to his current role of CEO.

Upstate Medical University includes the College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Graduate Studies, and the College of Health Professions. The system’s hospitals include Upstate University Hospital (which has two campuses, one in downtown Syracuse), Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, and Upstate Cancer Center.

Upstate’s Downtown Campus is a 425-bed teaching hospital. The Community Campus is a 409-bed facility. The Upstate Family Birth Center is housed at the Community Campus, as is Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Center.

Another employer of physicians in Syracuse is Crouse Hospital, a 506-bed acute care facility operated by Crouse Health, an affiliate of Northwell Health.

Corona says, “I make rounds with the docs. On Wednesdays, I do my neuropathology work. I teach residents. I look at cases under the microscope. …Working in the trenches with the docs and the nurses helps me keep my balance and feel valued. I also have a senior associate dean role in the medical college. I still do research with my neurosurgery colleagues, and I teach.”

When he is not exercising his passionate nature at the hospital, Corona is literally exercising as a passionate athlete. “I do all kinds of sports. I’m a sports fanatic. I like the summer and the fall; in my opinion, that’s the best season for outdoor sports.”

For sports fans, there are year-round events to enjoy as well. Syracuse University is well-known for its journalism and communications programs and for its Division I sports programs. One could argue that Syracuse’s basketball team—among other indoor sports—makes the central New York winter a little easier for doctors and patients alike.

Storrs, Connecticut

Katherine Coyner, M.D., is a team physician for several UConn teams, including women’s basketball. “I’d go as a fan, but now I get to go as the team doctor,” she says. – Photo by Butler Photography

Storrs, Connecticut, is home to the University of Connecticut, the state’s flagship public university. Twenty minutes south of Storrs is the UConn School of Medicine, as well as the UConn John Dempsey Hospital, a 186-bed academic hospital. UConn Health is home to a robust sports medicine program, where doctors train to specialize and where UConn athletes are treated during training.

It’s one thing to be a sports fan; it’s another thing to work for a university health system with a Division I sports program.

Katherine Coyner, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon for UConn Health. She grew up in Ohio with a childhood friend whose father was an orthopedic surgeon—a profession she’d always wanted to pursue.

As a sought-after college basketball recruit, though, Coyner needed to find a coach who supported her academic ambitions as well as her athletic ones. “I had a coach tell me, ‘You can’t play on my team and be a biochemistry and molecular biology double-major,’” says Coyner. It was the coach’s loss; Coyner played basketball for the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and began a fruitful academic career that has come full circle with Coyner practicing at a teaching hospital and working with young athletes.

“For me, it keeps me close to the games I grew up loving. It keeps me around athletes. My experience gives me that connection with athletes; they understand that I played at a high level and that I know what they’re going through.”

Coyner attended Northeastern Ohio University for medical school, then did residency at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. She was their first female resident ever in orthopedic surgery.

Coyner completed a one-year sports medicine fellowship at Duke University and then spent the first five years of her career practicing in Dallas. She came to the University of Connecticut Health System to be part of the organization’s sports medicine program.

“I am one of the team doctors for men’s and women’s basketball, football, ice hockey,” says Coyner. “UConn has an incredible women’s basketball team. I just traveled to the Final Four with them. I’d go as a fan, but now I get to go as the team doctor.”

Coyner enjoys practicing in a smaller market. With Storrs’ population of 15,000, she likes that she sees her patients at the grocery store and around town.

“It’s a vibrant community filled with history, culture and ample recreational opportunities,” says Randy Fiveash, director of the Connecticut Office of Tourism. “Downtown Storrs serves as Mansfield’s downtown, attracting students, residents and visitors from across Connecticut and beyond,” he says.

“There is a whole host of activities to do in the area, from attending major sporting events and hiking in The Last Green Valley—a national heritage corridor—to zip lining through the forest,” says Fiveash. There is even the Mansfield “Pup Crawl,” a guided dog walk through downtown Storrs.

Says Fiveash: “Storrs is a bustling community filled with historic, cultural and natural treasures, as well as thriving businesses, trendy shops and restaurants, making it a great place to live, work or visit.”

Lexington, Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky, is the second-largest city in Kentucky (second to Louisville). It has a population of 350,000 and a strong sense of community rooted in horse racing tradition and the energy of a college town. There is fierce local pride in the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

I grew up in Louisville and I went to the University of Louisville for medical school, so I’ve always rooted for [the Louisville Cardinals],” says Paige Quintero, M.D. “But now that I live in Lexington, there are some very, very devoted UK fans. So, my family and I say that we cheer for all the Kentucky teams. I pass the UK football field on my way to the hospital. It’s exciting to live in this college town.”

Quintero studied biochemistry at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She graduated early, went back to Kentucky to study at the University of Louisville Medical School, then did residency at Loyola in Chicago and a one-year fellowship at the University of Missouri (known by football fans as “Mizzou”).

“At Mizzou, the football stadium was right across the street from the hospital. I could go to a game, and if I was on call, I could just walk across the street. It would be faster than driving to the hospital from my home,” says Quintero. After fellowship, she looked for opportunities in bariatric surgery.

She has found Baptist Health Lexington to be especially supportive of her as she builds her practice and sees patients from around the state.

“As a person who struggled with her weight, I can empathize with my patients,” Quintero says. “I had weight loss surgery a year and a half ago, and I lost 90 pounds. That means a lot to patients when you can say, ‘I went through this too. You’ll recover from surgery; it’s going to be all right.” Quintero gave Baptist Health Lexington’s bariatric program potentially the highest praise: she had her surgery there, and her partner performed her surgery. “I told my partner, ‘I chose you; I trust you and I know you’re going to do a great job.’”

Quintero is happy with both her colleagues and patients. “In a larger market, there is more competition, and maybe in a smaller market there wouldn’t be enough business,” she says. “But here, it’s just the right-sized hospital and just the right-sized program, to be recognized and notable. There are two bariatric surgeons, and it provides such a great lifestyle in that we’re not always on call.”

Lexington is a culturally rich place to live with lots of leisure and entertainment activities to enjoy, which is important to Quintero and her family.

“Lexington is a mid-size city that punches way above its weight class,” says Mary Quinn Ramer, director of Visit Lexington. “There is a strong medical community here. …We also have a thriving downtown and an amazing culinary scene.”

Sports are also important to the community. Says Ramer: “We eat, breathe and sleep the Southeastern Collegiate Division, especially basketball. Our football team [at the University of Kentucky] has done just fine recently, so we’re football fans now too. It’s a very social town; people eat out and go to events all the time.”

Quintero is counting her blessings. “I hate to tell people how much I love my job because they’re going to want it,” she says. “I have so much time with family in my position because I don’t do general surgery. I am so thankful here that, in my mid-30s, I’ve achieved a good amount of business, a good lifestyle, and I’m able to see my family.” 

 

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Live & Practice: The Great Outdoors 2019

By Liz Funk | Live & Practice | Summer 2019

 

Beautiful beaches, affordable cost of living and a tight-knit community are what Bobby Gulab, M.D., loves about practicing in Lewes, Delaware. – Photo by Tiffany Caldwell

In cities and towns around the country, getting outside is a way of life, and adventure lovers take advantage of nature’s playground whenever possible. In Rapid City, South Dakota, state and national parks offer jaw-dropping vistas. In Boise, Idaho, locals head to the mountains after work for night skiing. In Lewes, Delaware, residents and visitors alike play along miles of surf and sand. And in Austin, Texas, enjoying time outdoors is just part of everyday life—whether eating BBQ, listening to music or heading past the city limits to look at the stars.

Lewes, Delaware

The historic town of Lewes, Delaware, takes pride in its slogan: “The first town in the first state.” Founded in 1631, Lewes retains the charm of an old fishing village, but also boasts a vibrant culinary scene and a lively shopping district. In general, Southern Delaware is defined by its laid-back, beachy atmosphere, and it’s experiencing growth as families discover the high quality of life it affords. Plus, if you are a lover of watersports, there are miles of coastline to enjoy.

“It’s a privilege to be able to help care for people,” says Bobby Gulab, M.D. Gulab is senior vice president and chief medical officer for Beebe Medical Group in Lewes, Delaware. Gulab was born and raised in Delaware and completed his internal medicine residency at Christiana Care, a Delaware-based health system.

Gulab began to shift his focus from patient care to hospital administration during the economic recession in 2008. “When the economy was collapsing in 2008, there was so much talk about health care being a broken system. I felt strongly that physicians needed a better understanding of the business end of things,” he says. That’s when Gulab began pursuing an MBA with a concentration in health care at the University of Delaware.

Although Gulab leads the hospital on big-picture initiatives in his administrative role, he still sees patients two half-days a week. Gulab says that southern Delaware’s patient population is especially engaging, and there is a strong relationship between providers and the community they serve.

“We have a tight-knit relationship with the community, being a large health center in the area,” he says. “Doctors are really a big part of the community and provide a big service to the population; the Beebe doctors are well liked and very well-viewed in our community.” Gulab has special affection for Delaware, especially its beaches. “I think it’s great here. When I went away for medical school, I always knew I wanted to come back,” he says. “The cost of living is reasonable. It’s a good place to raise a family. We’re near the beaches. Our hospital is about one or two miles from the beach.”

Lewes sits on the picturesque coast of Sussex County. In Lewes, the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet, giving beach-goers a multitude of options when they want to get outside and enjoy the sun and surf. Families with kids can splash in the gentle waves at Lewes Beach, while surfers and sport fishers can head to ocean waters.

According to Tina Coleman, communications manager at Southern Delaware Tourism, pretty much any kind of adventure is possible when you explore the great outdoors in Sussex County.

“Southern Delaware is a fabulous playground for outdoor adventurers; beach, boating and watersports lovers; bicyclists; surfers; and hikers and fitness enthusiasts of all stripes,” she says.

In Lewes, Cape Henlopen State Park is a can’t-miss attraction. It’s the place where bay and ocean meet, so visitors can enjoy swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding and more. There is also a WWII historical museum, a seaside nature center, a nature preserve, a Frisbee golf course and a fishing pier. All in all, says Coleman, “It’s a dream of a state park.”

After agriculture, tourism is the largest economic driver in the region, according to Coleman. In the fall, there are festivals almost every weekend, including the popular Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddlers Festival. Year-round activities include restaurant weeks, sidewalk sales, garden tours, farmers markets, artists’ studio tours, history lectures, state park events and tours, and more.

“Southern Delaware’s beach communities have welcomed visitors and tourists for generations, so warm hospitality is baked in,” says Coleman. “With so many activities available for families to enjoy together, the area is most definitely family-friendly.”

When talking to candidates, Marilyn Hill, director of physician services at Beebe Medical Group, underscores the high quality of life that is possible in Southern Delaware.

“We have a number of things to do in addition to the water sports,” says Hill. “Lots of golf, cycling, runners. There are a lot of parades, a lot of community. It’s also very artistic and the dining here is really superb.” And, she says, the school systems are great.

Hill also says the state is known for its low taxation, including real estate taxes. That’s something that candidates might not know about the region, but it can be attractive.

Beebe Medical Center is a 210-bed facility located in Lewes, just blocks from the coast. The health system has satellite facilities throughout the region and is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar expansion. When complete, Beebe Healthcare will have a new surgical hospital, an additional cancer center, two freestanding emergency rooms and a hybrid operating room. The hospital is already equipped with a 20-bed open ICU and a brand new da Vinci surgical robot.

Beebe is currently recruiting for family practice, internal medicine, hospitalists, endocrinology, critical care, pulmonary specialists, neurology, OB-GYN, dermatology and more.

Hill says that another feature of the region is its convenience to other locations. “We’re close to Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C.—even New York City in a day.”

Meanwhile, back in Delaware, Gulab enjoys the area’s tight-knit feel. “The towns aren’t huge, but people get to know you and your family and you feel like part of a bigger community,” says Gulab. “Rehoboth and Lewes have tons of restaurants and tons of activities and social opportunities. We’re a growing area that continues to grow and we have a lot of opportunity.”

Coleman agrees that Southern Delaware is perfect for “those who love a day-to-day laid back, beachy atmosphere,” but want to be within a couple hours of what the big cities have to offer.

On a nice beach day, though, it will be hard to find any reason to leave.

Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas, is known for world-famous music festivals and has earned its reputation as the live music capital of the world. But it also has beautiful outdoor spaces, great food (barbecue and beyond) and endless activities for both adults and families. With a population that hovers around 950,000, Austin is home to numerous health care systems.

Waleed Abdelhafez, M.D., became fascinated with pediatrics while attending medical school at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. On his rotation at Texas Children’s Hospital, he saw both standard pediatric cases as well as rare diseases and disorders.

“This experience allowed me to see how strong and resilient children are,” says Abdelhafez. “Their honest smiles and giggles is what drew me to becoming a pediatrician.”

He completed his pediatric residency at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School. During that time, he did clinical rotations at several facilities, including the People’s Community Clinic (PCC), which has two sites in Austin. It was the rotation he enjoyed most.

“Community medicine holds a special place in my heart because I grew up getting check-ups in a similar setting,” he says. “That’s why I have dedicated myself to serving this population.”

Now a specialist in general pediatrics at PCC, Abdelhafez enjoys working at a mission-driven organization alongside committed colleagues.

“The providers and staff at PCC genuinely care and strive to provide the best health care to our patients as well as promote community resources such as cooking classes, summer camp programs, free lunches over the summer school break and much more,” he says.

In addition to providing primary care outpatient services, the clinic has a number of unique programs that aim to support its patient population.

“One of my favorite resources is our GOALS program, which helps facilitate communication with schools regarding school evaluations/testing,” says Abdelhafez. This program helps schools effectively manage conditions like ADHD and other learning disabilities among students.

PPC also has an in-house pharmacy to provide medications for uninsured patients. “We don’t only treat diseases, but also social determinants of health,” says Abdelhafez.

As a provider, Abdelhafez feels appreciated by his colleagues—and the feeling is mutual.

“Everyone is dedicated to providing exceptional care to our patients, but we also show our friends and colleagues appreciation for all their hard work,” he says. “This helps sustain our efforts to continue our mission of improving the health of the medically underserved and uninsured of Central Texas by providing high-quality, affordable health care with dignity and respect.”

When it comes to choosing a health care employer in Austin, physicians have options. Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas is the primary teaching hospital for the Dell Medical School. The university has three other teaching hospitals in the area, including a children’s hospital. All four hospitals are part of the Seton Healthcare Family, a network with over 100 clinical locations.

There’s also St. David’s HealthCare, a health system with more than 119 sites across Central Texas. The network, which is the third largest private employer in the Austin area, has a partnership with two nonprofits: St. David’s Foundation and Georgetown Health Foundation.

While the city undoubtedly attracts music lovers, there are lots of ways to enjoy Austin. According to Abdelhafez, Austin has the best barbecue in Texas. Pleasant weather year-round means it is possible to explore the great outdoors almost anytime you want. Austin is often ranked among the fittest cities in the U.S., and it helps that there are great running and biking trails. Austin residents can often be found enjoying Lady Bird Lake, a section of the Colorado River that was dammed off in 1960. It runs right through downtown Austin, and you will see people paddleboarding, river cruising and kayaking. People even come to the park to watch bats, which famously congregate under a downtown bridge.

Near Austin is Palmetto State Park, a forest with an array of tropical vegetation. There is also Pedernales Falls State Park, a weekend getaway spot popular for star gazing. To see Austin from above, try the short but steep hike up Mount Bonnell. The view is worth the trek.

During his time off, Abdelhafez likes exploring the city with his family. “We enjoy the outdoors and visiting different parks and trails,” he says. “We especially enjoy going to the Thinkery—my son enjoys playing and splashing in the water exhibit.”

For Abdelhafez, Austin—and PCC—was the right choice. It gives him the opportunity to work for an organization that provides high-quality care to the underserved in a specialty he loves.

Says Abdelhafez, “Not every day in medicine is a good day, but my patients and families always find a way to make me smile.”

Pediatrician Waleed Abdelhafez, M.D., enjoys serving the medically underserved and uninsured in Central Texas. – Photo by Brio Yiapan.

Rapid City, South Dakota

In Rapid City, South Dakota, you will find Western hospitality, awe-inspiring national parks and monuments, a surprising lack of traffic jams and no personal income tax. With a population of approximately 75,000, this city has opportunities for arts and culture, family-friendly activities, and of course, outdoor adventures. It serves as the economic and medical hub for the region, and one of the biggest draws for physicians is the fact that it offers great work/life balance.

Physicians who want to experience nature in its full splendor find lots to do in Rapid City. There are lots of surrounding national parks to explore, including the magnificent Badlands National Park. There is also South Dakota’s crown jewel, Custer State Park, which is famous for its bison herds, historic sites and lakes.

And of course, there is Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the iconic landmark that is just 30 minutes outside Rapid City. Whether you are moving to South Dakota or just there for a visit, it is something you have to see. The City of Presidents in downtown Rapid City is also a famed attraction, and will unveil its life-size statue of former President Barack Obama this year.

According to Julie Jensen, executive director of the Rapid City Convention Center and Visitors Bureau, you can’t find a more family-friendly community than Rapid City. Plus, the destination has “all of the big-city amenities, with a small-town ‘Americana’ feel.”

When work calls, nearly 5,000 physicians and other providers head to Regional Health, the area’s largest health care system. Through five hospitals and 25 clinics, Regional Health provides care spanning 32 specialties. In January, a new Orthopedic & Specialty Hospital opened that includes space for everything from surgery to massage therapy. Regional Health is currently recruiting for cardiology, endocrinology, family and internal medicine, neurology and more.

People from all different backgrounds and demographics are proud to live and work in Rapid City.

“City leaders, from our mayor and city council to our chief of police and Native American leaders, along with incredible public servants, deep-rooted philanthropists and our worship community, work daily to create the rich quality of life you’ll find in Rapid City,” says Jensen. “Neighbors take care of their neighbors; it’s just part of our western hospitality.”

With direct flights to Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Chicago and Charlotte, to name a few destinations, getting in and out of Rapid City is easy.

That is, if you run out of things to do in South Dakota—and that’s not likely to happen.

With events like the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo, the Black Hills Film Festival, countless family-friendly programs and distinct restaurants, all ages can enjoy what the city offers.

And when in doubt, you can get outside. With so much natural beauty in the region, places from the Badlands to the Black Hills will keep you coming back for more.

Boise, Idaho

Boise, Idaho, sits in the high desert, right along the Boise River. It has been named a “Top 10 City for Active Families” by Outside Magazine, and adventure lovers will be delighted to discover how true that is. The city also has great food, breweries and wineries, and a thriving downtown scene. With expanding regional health systems, hospitals are evolving to meet the needs of the region’s growing population while maintaining their community feel.

In some ways, Boise is exactly what you would expect: a city with easy access to mountains, rivers and lakes. Breathtaking scenery is the norm here, and it is impossible to get bored outdoors when each season offers new recreation and exploration opportunities.

But in other ways, it surprises. If you have never visited Boise, you might not know that more people of Basque descent live in the Boise area, per capita, than any other place outside the Basque regions of Southern France and Northern Spain.

“In Boise, the Basque culture is alive and well,” says Carrie Westergard, executive director of the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau. To experience the culture, residents head to the Basque Block, where they can enjoy the Basque Museum, restaurants that feature Basque cooking, and the Basque Market, stocked with traditional wines and food. The Basque Center, built in 1949, offers community events like Basque dancing.

The lively downtown nightlife is another thing that might surprise you about Boise. But with a population of approximately 225,000 and a greater metro area population of around 700,000, Boise is the most populous city in Idaho. There is plenty to do here, even if you are less inclined to hit the ski slopes or hop on a mountain coaster ride. (More on that in a moment.)

Arts and cultural offerings in Boise include the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, the Boise Philharmonic, Zoo Boise, the Boise Art Museum, the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial and more. If you are a sports enthusiast, you can check out the famous blue turf football field where the Boise State Broncos play or catch an Idaho Steelheads hockey game or a Boise Hawks baseball game.

So, about that mountain coaster. You’ll find that at Bogus Basin, a ski area with 37,000 acres available for downhill and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and tubing. During the summer, you can hike and bike the terrain, or ride the chairlift or mountain coaster for a different vantage point.

According to Westergard, in the summer, you will find residents floating on the Boise River, hiking or biking over 190 miles of trails in the foothills of the nearby mountains, or walking or running the 25-mile Boise River Greenbelt, which snakes along the Boise River as it runs through the city.

“Each season offers the most amazing scenery changes and new activities to do outside,” says Whitney Clark, a physician recruiter at St. Luke’s Health System. That is part of what she conveys to candidates considering Boise.

“You get to live in a city that is large enough to provide great access and state-of-the-art health care, however it’s small enough that you can live 10 miles away from work and get to work in 10 minutes, rather than sitting in traffic for an hour,” says Clark.

St. Luke’s Health System is Idaho’s largest employer, with a 380-bed hospital in downtown Boise plus eight other hospitals spread throughout the state.

The organization is always recruiting for primary care specialties, including internal medicine, family medicine, hospitalists and behavioral health. As it grows its neuroscience departments, it is also seeking neurologists, neurohospitalists and doctors specializing in movement disorder, neurointerventional radiology and neurosurgery. The children’s hospital is currently recruiting for pediatric surgery, pediatric critical care, endocrinology, acute care surgery, cardiology, hematology/oncology and orthopedic surgery, among other specialties.

According to Clark, St. Luke’s has been named a top 15 health system in the country for five consecutive years by IBM Watson/Truven Health Analytics. It offers the only children’s hospital in the state and is currently the only Idaho hospital to provide allogeneic transplants.

“St. Luke’s is leading a transformative change right now with population health and moving from fee-for service to value-based care,” says Clark.

According to Clark, the physician and employee experience also makes St. Luke’s stand out.

“St. Luke’s is great because while it’s a large health system, it’s still a small community. I have met our wonderful president and CEO, Dr. David Pate, on a few occasions,” says Clark. “In fact, just last week he served me food at the employee appreciation holiday meal. It’s amazing to be able to work for a large organization and still feel like your voice can be heard.”

The fact that St. Luke’s is locally owned and operated makes a big difference too, she says.

“I love knowing that the people helping make decisions live here in Idaho and know what’s best for us.”

 

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Gainesville, Florida

By Liz Funk | Live & Practice | Spring 2016

 

When you think of Florida, the warm climate and alligators tend to come to mind. In Gainesville, Florida, there is great local affection for the Gators—that is, the University of Florida’s athletics program—as well as the sunny weather that makes outdoor recreation, farmers markets and biking to work possible.

“I was born in Auburndale, Florida, between Orlando and Tampa. Most folks when I was growing up were Florida State, Miami or Gators fans,” says Ryan Nall, M.D. Nall attended the University of Florida, which he says “lays the groundwork for being a huge Gators fan.” Nall also completed medical school at the University of Florida, but left the area for his residency. “I did my residency at Beth Israel in Boston. I lived there for four years.” After a stretch of time away, Nall and his wife were eager to return to Florida and put down roots.

Now, Nall is a general internist with UF Health, the University of Florida health system. He and his wife have an 18-month-old baby and enjoy their community and friends in Gainesville.

“As a medical student, you see one side of Gainesville, centered around the university. Coming back, working here now, there is a strong community here of a lot of academic folks. People have their kids play together; it’s great.”

2015 09 26 Game Day 5523

Fans gather at the country’s 12th largest college football stadium—Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, nicknamed “The Swamp.”

Nall is quick to cite his favorite thing about Gainesville. “It’s a nice college town that offers a small-town feel with the benefit of the culture provided by the university being here.” That, and the sports.

“I love the football games. A big focus of the town in the fall is football. It’s a lot of fun. I did medical school here and returned here after my residency. I loved cheering for the Gators as a medical student, and it’s been fun moving back here.” Nall says that the spirit around the Gators contributed to his dedication to the University of Florida medical community. “The sports colored my interest, and UF certainly is a great school and program. It’s a fun place to live and work and train.”

“The quality of life here is very high. Being a college town, the amenities we have are not common for the region. If you look around, it’s a very rural area except for Gainesville. We bring in people from all over the world for the university,” says John Pricher, executive director of Visit Gainesville.

“In the county, there are 248,000 people. The majority of those people are in Gainesville proper. The schools are astounding. The high schools have a magnet program. There are two different honors programs,” says Pricher. “Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa are all within two hours. If you want to visit those places, it’s easy.” Pricher says that part of Gainesville’s allure is its affordability. “Compared to those areas [Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa], we definitely have a lower cost of living. Even with the university taking so much land off the tax rolls, it’s still really affordable to live here.”

Pricher is also a University of Florida alumnus. “I came to school here and never left. I really like the pace of life. It’s a small southern town when you get down to it. People are friendly, and everything flows like the rivers and the springs in the area. It’s a steady nice pace, and things get done when they get done. No one is in too much of a hurry.”

Of course, a career with UF Health isn’t much like a lazy river. Says Arman Razavipour, a physician recruiter for the University of Florida College of Medicine, “UF Health is the Southeast’s most comprehensive academic medical center, and the only one in the U.S. with six health colleges and eight research institutes on a single contiguous campus.”

“There are 996 licensed beds among the five Gainesville hospitals in the UF Health system,” says Razavipour. “We’re building two new hospitals in Gainesville, a $415 million project, to meet the increasing demand for care. The UF Health Heart & Vascular Hospital and the UF Health Neuromedicine Hospital will deliver concentrated care to patients with some of the most complex health conditions.”

Razavipour says that he has been actively recruiting physicians and researchers across a wide spectrum of specializations, including oncology, diabetes, genetics, cardiology, neuromedicine, orthopedics and transplantation.

Another employer of physicians in Gainesville is North Florida Regional Medical Center, operated by HCA North Florida. North Florida Regional Medical Center is an acute care center with 445 licensed beds.

Outside of work, physicians in Gainesville have plenty of entertainment options beyond the stadium. “We have such a wealth of nature-based activities, whether you want to ride horses or snorkel in one of the cold water springs,” says Pricher.

Razavipour echoes this: “Gainesville is known for its natural beauty and many springs, lakes and rivers. The climate encourages outdoor activities and residents enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, bicycling and camping.”

Nall says that commuting to work by bike is common in Gainesville and that “they are in the process of completing a big bike trail.” Since 2013, the Florida Department of Transportation has been at work on an extensive trail construction project that will both create new paths for walking and biking within the UF campus and connect these bike paths with existing ones off-campus.

Nall also enjoys the dining and arts scene in Gainesville. “There is a growing food and restaurant scene with local chefs that are creating some wonderful places to dine. There is a microbrewery group that is developing; it will be the third microbrewery in the area. There is a wonderful farmers market downtown. [On] Wednesday nights there is a farmers market/art market. It’s a great place to go and enjoy everything that’s made in the area. Gainesville is often viewed as this small college town, but there is so much more happening in terms of art and public works, making it a better place to live and work.”

Nall says that his favorite part of the job is taking care of the patients and engaging with the people of Gainesville. “Everybody is unique and brings their own story, which is what makes this job so interesting and exciting. Now that I have been here for three years, you begin to connect with people as you get to know them over time. It’s invigorating.”

 

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Fayetteville, Arkansas

By Liz Funk | Fall 2016 | Live & Practice

 

Fayetteville, Arkansas

The northwest Arkansas area has experienced a growth spurt in the past 10 years; the population has grown, as have cultural offerings and job opportunities. Still, one thing remains the same: a devotion to the Razorbacks, the University of Arkansas’ beloved sports program.

“I moved here in 1987 after my residency training. Since 1990, there are 24 net new people living in northwest Arkansas every day. There is no prediction that that’s going to slow down any,” says Stephen Goss, M.D., president of Mercy Clinic Northwest Arkansas.

Goss was born and raised in southeast Arkansas. Inspired by his upbringing on a farm, he initially planned to become a veterinarian. He attended Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, where he pivoted onto a medical science track and met his wife. “The college was in my wife’s hometown, and both of her parents were professors at the university.” Goss attended medical school at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and trained in internal medicine and pediatrics.

Old Main.jpg

Finished in 1875, Old Main is a well-known symbol of higher ed throughout Arkansas.

Goss has two adult sons, both of whom were raised in northwest Arkansas. Goss says the area was a great place to raise kids and that virtually everyone who grows up in the area is a fan of the Razorbacks. “I have season tickets to the Razorback football and basketball games. It’s hard to grow up in Arkansas and not be a Razorback fan. Win, lose or draw, we’re for Arkansas.” Goss says that the University of Arkansas is undergoing a stadium expansion, in part to accommodate the growing number of locals who want to go to games.

This population growth has been great for Mercy Clinic Northwest Arkansas. “We have robust recruitment for Mercy in NWA. We still have plans for much more over the next several years. We’re becoming a really vibrant area in the Midwest. We’re the only community where they have seen a 25 percent growth rate. The closest place to that, in terms of growth, is Austin, Texas,” says Goss. In fact, Fayetteville’s growth appears to mirror the transformation that Austin has undergone, with new housing developments, more restaurants and young professionals moving there every day.

“Our town used to have a small-town feel, but now there are lots of new restaurants, lots of biking trails and many more amenities,” says Goss.

The bike trails are hugely popular among locals, according to Kym Hughes, the executive director of Experience Fayetteville. “The city trails really inspire people to live a healthy lifestyle. Many people are avid cyclists, and they enjoy the system here.” The Experience Fayetteville office is quick to mention the many accolades that Fayetteville has earned from national media, including Best Affordable Place to Live in America and the No. 3 Best Place to Live in America according to U.S. News and World Report in 2016. The city was also ranked No. 23 on Forbes’ 2015 Best Places for Business and Careers.

Dayna Pangle, a physician recruiter for Mercy, says that northwest Arkansas is widely known for its local economic growth. This certainly applies to her organization: “We are in the process of a $250 million expansion; we’re looking at adding 100 physicians in the next five years.”

Says Pangle, “Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas is currently 220 beds. We have approximately 135 integrated physicians and 60 advanced practitioners.” Pangle says that her main recruiting focus is primary care, and she is actively looking for primary care physicians. Mercy also has 10 clinics within the health system.

“We offer the opportunity to be part of a larger health care system,” says Goss. “Being part of a larger system lets you be a part of more things than if you were a stand-alone. We’re truly an integrated group of physicians. It’s not a hospital employment model. We have the whole organization integrated. We work together between hospital and clinic. We’re often looking at how we can solve health care issues as a system. We get lots of good traction and more robust programming as a result of that.”

For example, Goss describes their hybrid lab, where surgeons are able to perform a new procedure for the replacement of aortic valves. “Another thing we’ve gotten started is what we call our heartburn treatment center. We’re doing a better job diagnosing and giving better treatment for people with heartburn,” says Goss.

Pangle has another powerful talking point to use when she is selling job candidates on Mercy Hospital: “The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville—and the beloved UA Razorback football team—is just 20 minutes away.”

Al Gordon, M.D., is a family physician at FirstCare Family Doctors-North, part of the Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas (MANA), a multispecialty group that provides an umbrella for about 75 physicians in private practice to share common administration, marketing and billing offices. Gordon not only helped start MANA, but he also was on the first primary care team for the University of Arkansas athletic department.

Gordon’s relationship with the Razorbacks started in 1994; today he is the head team physician for the University’s Department of Athletics and medical director of the graduate program in athletic training.

“As far as University of Arkansas sports, it’s almost like everyone in the state supports them, no matter who you might be supporting otherwise,” Gordon says. “To be an integral part in that, there’s a lot to be said for that. …The relationships that are formed with these student-athletes, that’s also a big part of why I do it. I have student athletes who participated 20 years ago who are still in contact with me. That means more to me than anything.”

An Arkansas native who grew up in the eastern part of the state, Gordon headed north to Fayetteville for residency after completing medical school in Little Rock.

“In Northwest Arkansas, we’re rather spoiled,” he says. “There are so many things to do, whether you’re a music, art or sports enthusiast. It’s just one of those kinds of areas, and we’re fortunate to have that.”

Another employment option for physicians looking in northwest Arkansas in the Fayetteville Diagnostic Clinic, also part of MANA. The Fayetteville Diagnostic Clinic offers a wide spectrum of specialties at one location, including internal medicine, gastroenterology, rheumatology and sleep medicine.

Or, consider Washington Regional Medical Center, a nonprofit hospital in Fayetteville that’s part of the locally governed health system Washington Regional. The system also operates several specialty clinics in the northwest Arkansas area.

“This is an area where there is a lot of opportunity, and we are recruiting a lot,” says Goss. “A lot of people think, ‘Arkansas?’ But they owe it to themselves to do a little research and see all that we have to offer. It’s a very unique place. We have a nice regional airport, and we’re well-located geographically. We’re not that far if you want to take a drive to Dallas, St. Louis or Tulsa. We have a great public school system, all four seasons, and lots of outdoor activities. It’s a great community, it has good people, and it’s a good place to grow your life.”

Says Gordon: “I like to visit areas all around this great country, but I’m always glad to be going home.”

 

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Madison, Wisconsin

By Liz Funk | Fall 2016 | Live & Practice

 

Having a major university in town helps make Madison a thriving cultural center in the Midwest, with eclectic restaurants, a variety of arts and culture offerings and, of course, sports.

Brad Schmidt, M.D., would be the first to tell you about Madison’s full range of entertainment options. He lives in Madison with his family and is the Medical Director of Inpatient Specialties at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – Madison. SSM Health, an integrated delivery network, operates more than 55 medical group locations and three hospitals across south central Wisconsin.

“I have always been interested in science. I enjoyed combining the biology and science of medicine with connecting with people. I had done a little bit of research, but I missed the interactions with people. Working in a hospital was a way to put it all together. I started as a hospitalist, and (back) then it was a much newer and different field than it is currently,” says Schmidt.

Brad Schmidt, M.D.

Brad Schmidt, M.D., was born and raised in Wisconsin and is happy to call Madison home. “Our experience has been great,” he says. · Photo by Ueda Photography

Schmidt has enjoyed raising a family in Madison. He and his wife have three children, and they take advantage of the full range of entertainment options in the area. “With the university here there are many sporting events and cultural events. It’s a very high quality of life with a very engaged city. We like that, even though we have so many options, it has a smaller town feel.”

Appropriately, the Schmidt family members are sports fans. “We are diehard Packers fans. We also have season basketball tickets, which has been great over the past few years.” The Badgers are the University of Wisconsin’s Big Ten NCAA men’s basketball team. Schmidt says that there is strong local devotion to the team and that virtually everyone can get tickets to see them play: “In Madison, it’s generally pretty easy to get tickets.”

SSM Health physician recruiter Christopher Kashnig says that Madison’s attractiveness piques physicians’ interest, but what seals the deal is the culture at SSM Health Dean Medical Group, which has been around since 1904. “We tend to be innovative as an employer. We try new things. We try to be state-of-the-art. We pilot a lot of projects and we try to be cutting-edge,” says Kashnig.

For example, SSM Dean Medical Group was an early adopter of the patient-centered medical home. “We received a large grant from a major philanthropic organization to pilot a patient-centered medical home. We chose six of our primary care clinics for a pilot study; we looked at how to structure staffing and workflow.”

In total, SSM Health Dean Medical Group has more than 55 locations in 18 counties across Wisconsin. “We have four big clinics in the city of Madison, five clinics in suburbs of Madison, and the rest are in small towns across Madison. In Madison, we admit to St. Mary’s Hospital.” St. Mary’s is a full-service hospital with 440 beds.

“We are competitive financially with other offers around the country and around the city. We have Madison, and Madison sells itself. Madison has culture, it has sports, it has theater. When you have a big college campus and a state capital, there is a lot to do,” says Kashnig.

Judy Frankel, director of public relations and communications at the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau, moved to Madison from Long Island, in New York. She was pleasantly surprised by the extent to which Madison is a busy and bustling area. “I’ve been here for 15 years. Madison is an amazing place to raise a family. It has great public schools, and the university is world-class. The university brings in a lot of opportunities for families whether it’s lectures or performances, music and theater.”

For those interested in potential employment opportunities in Madison, another employer of physicians in the area is UnityPoint Health System, which operates a clinic in Madison, called UnityPoint Health-Meriter. UnityPoint operates a number of clinics across Wisconsin, providing family care, urgent care and emergency medical care.

The Wisconsin Office of Rural Health, which serves as a linchpin for a number of state-wide health promotion initiatives, runs a 25-year-strong physician recruitment program to place talented physicians in jobs across Wisconsin. Their nonprofit physician placement program works with clinics, hospitals and other health care providers to recruit physicians who are a match. According to the website, “Physicians placed into these sites promote and sustain a high quality of life, especially in rural, underserved areas.”

Schmidt was born and raised in Wisconsin, and feels good about his decision to stay in the state and build a life in Madison. “Madison has a state-of-the-art performing arts theater at the Overture Center. A family donated $250 million, so we have Broadway shows come through, everything from The Lion King to Stomp. We have a great farmers market with local food products; it’s fun to have those kinds of options and know where you’re getting your milk. That’s what creates the feeling that you have many choices with regard to restaurants, theater, comedy, performing arts, and still feel connected to the local community.”

This applies when it comes to sports, too. The University of Wisconsin basketball team may have the biggest fan base, but the university’s large sports program has something for everybody. “There are ways to enjoy sports beyond the high-profile teams you read about. I can take my daughter to a volleyball meet at the University of Wisconsin. I can take my son to soccer games at the University of Wisconsin.”

Says Schmidt, “Our experience has been great. We feel like our kids get a great education. There are lots of things in Madison that we can choose to have our kids experience. Overall, we love it.”

 

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Morgantown, West Virginia

By Liz Funk | Fall 2016 | Live & Practice

 

Whether you “bleed blue and gold” or you’re more of a casual sports fan, you’ll find scores of opportunities in Morgantown to enjoy the West Virginia University athletics program. For physicians, building a career with WVU Medicine offers flexibility and room for upward growth.

“I’ve always had an affinity for college towns,” says Taylor Troischt, M.D., the medical director of a pediatric clinic operated by WVU Medicine. “I like the vibe, I like the variety of culture. You get the amenities without the stress or expense of a big city. My wife’s family lives in Hagerstown, Maryland. We knew we wanted to be closer to her family. When we were looking for jobs, we started by looking at college towns within a two- to three-hour radius of where her family lives. WVU Medicine seemed to be the best situation; we could both find a job in the same field in the same area. It’s not always that easy.”

Taylor Troischt, M.D.

“I like the vibe, I like the variety of culture. You get the amenities without the stress or expense of a big city,” says Taylor Troischt, M.D., of living in a college town. · Photo by Rebecca Devono

“WVU Medicine offers a really good blend of career opportunities and a good lifestyle,” says Troischt. “We’ve had plenty of opportunities to relocate with other jobs and other areas; the fact that we’re still here says a lot.”

Troischt and his wife, who is also a pediatrician in the same office, had a fairly specific idea of what they were looking for in a community. In Morgantown, they feel they’ve hit the jackpot.

“I love college sports and college athletics. I don’t ‘bleed blue and gold’ like a lot of people who grew up here, but it’s always fun to see the teams do well,” says Troischt. “I love football. I love basketball. We love going to the games. It’s a lot of fun being part of a major athletic conference for basically every sport. It’s great that WVU is part of the Big 12.”

“The sports scene is huge,” says Katie Webster, the visitor services specialist at the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Football season in the fall is an awesome time. Football is the pride of the school and the state. Around the whole state, you see people wearing WVU stuff. Whether or not they went to school there, everyone is supportive of the college.”

“Our academic flagship hospital sits adjacent to the WVU Football stadium and in close proximity to our baseball, soccer, swimming and basketball venues, so sports are never far away from reach and the minds of WVU Medicine employees,” says Deveran George, director of talent management and physician recruitment for WVU Medicine.
The WVU Medicine flagship academic hospital and Level I trauma center is Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. “However, we are also part of a system with more than 12,000 employees and nearly $2 billion in annual revenues, the WVU Medicine – West Virginia United Health System,” says George. WVU Medicine – West Virginia United Health System also operates eight other hospitals and numerous clinics throughout the Morgantown area as well as the state of West Virginia and surrounding region.

Ruby Memorial Hospital is currently 532 beds, but an upcoming expansion, a 10-story tower addition, will bring the count to 646. Other hospitals and associated clinics in the WVU Medicine – West Virginia United Health System include Potomac Valley Hospital, Camden Clark Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital, WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital, the WVU Cancer Institute, and the WVU Eye Institute.

Says George, “It is a time of unprecedented growth at WVU Medicine, so we are expanding and growing our footprint throughout the state and region to meet the needs of our patients, state and surrounding region. … As a result of this growth and demand for our services, we are recruiting for every department—primary care and specialty. Some of the needs and focus include heart and vascular, orthopedics, pediatrics, neurology, oncology, rheumatology and digestive diseases, to name a few.”

For Troischt and his wife, building careers with WVU Medicine and raising their children in Morgantown is a choice they’re very happy with. “It’s a good community where people look after each other. My kids make cracks at me about this: When we’re out, they’ll see me saying hi to four or five families. When you’re a pediatrician in a small town, you’re going to get to know a lot of people.”

Webster says that the Morgantown population tends to be outdoorsy and takes advantage of local outdoor activities. “During the summer it’s especially great, because there is so much to do outdoors. We’re right on a lake and a river, so there’s boating, fishing and water rafting.”

For those interested in a day trip, the great outdoors is just beyond Morgantown.

“Morgantown is surrounded by forests and parks. Within a couple of hours you can get to so many parks, waterfalls and caves. People like to hike and bike on the trails, especially,” says Webster.

Troischt’s son and daughter are both athletes, which increases the family’s affection for where they live. “My kids love Morgantown,” says Troischt. “They have a great peer group. If you put time and effort in, you’ll be amazed what kind of opportunities there are here.”

Troischt says, “My daughter is in the ninth grade; she does track, and she does ballet. She has been busy with her dance career. She’s had amazing opportunities to train with professional dancers downtown at the Metropolitan Theatre. My son is a swimmer and participates in a swim league organized by WVU. His coach is going to the Olympic Trials, and he does lessons one-on-one.”

“It’s really amazing what opportunities a small town like Morgantown can have,” says Troischt. “There is opportunity, charm, safety. You’re not going to find all that in a lot of places.”

 

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Skokie, Illinois

By Liz Funk | Live & Practice | Winter 2017

 

Skokie, Illinois, has the best of both worlds. It’s a suburb with top-ranked schools, but its public transportation makes it easy to travel to Chicago and all the attractions and excitement of the city. Skokie sits on the northern border of Chicago and is the first North Shore suburb north of city limits. Even so, living in Skokie doesn’t require a morning commute into the Windy City. Skokie Hospital and NorthShore University HealthSystem offer ample job opportunities.

Jonathan Pomerantz, M.D., grew up five blocks from Skokie Hospital, but he says the hospital has changed since his childhood. It was acquired by NorthShore University HealthSystem, and today Pomerantz works there as an ear, nose and throat doctor. “NorthShore really improved the quality, the safety and the prestige that Skokie Hospital had,” explains Pomerantz. “They took what I saw at the Skokie Hospital growing up, what used to be just one hospital, and made it a component of a really strong health system.”

Pomerantz was attracted to his specialty early in medical school. He says, “I thought it had a little something of everything. I like that you treat patients from birth to end of life. It’s a big quality-of-life field. Every time you fix a sinus infection or improve someone’s snoring or the quality of their sleep, you’re making their life better. It’s a feel-good field.”

With the exception of his undergraduate education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Pomerantz has always lived in greater Chicago—a sure sign of his affection for the area.

For Pomerantz, his wife and their two children, Skokie has proved to be a family-centered place. “It’s excellent. The schools are top-ranked in the state. The neighborhoods are beautiful. The people are friendly and diverse,” he says.

Howard Meyer, executive director of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce and a Skokie native himself, echoes this. He says, “Skokie is a very dynamic community. …We have over 90 languages and dialects spoken in the school district.”

It’s also one of the strongest in the state, featuring more perfect ACT scores than any other Illinois school district.

Skokie’s entertainment and amenities have been created with families with kids in mind. “We have probably one of the largest park districts for any north suburban area. Our forest district is forest preserve land. We are just finishing the last leg of our bike trails.” These trails connect to Chicago bike trails and extend all the way to Green Bay.

Those interested in relocating to Skokie will find ample opportunities. The Illinois Science + Technology Park is located in the center of Skokie and employs 3,500 people. NorthShore University HealthSystem is also one of the large employers in Skokie and greater Chicago.

NorthShore University HealthSystem is an integrated system with four hospitals: Evanston, Glenbrook, Highland Park and Skokie. There are almost 800 beds across the system. NorthShore also has a 900-physician medical group with over 100 offices, a research institute, and a foundation.

NorthShore is currently most heavily recruiting for primary care, urgent care and surgical specialists.

One perk of working at Skokie Hospital is its state-of-the-art equipment, and the hospital is constantly upgrading its facilities. Pomerantz says, “We have all brand-new operating rooms. They built a brand-new surgical intensive care unit. Everything in the operating rooms is state-of-the-art. We can have video conferences with colleagues in operating rooms at other sites. Students can listen to their surgeon instructor explain what’s going on. We have state-of-the-art instrumentation and new types of surgical techniques. It’s a very exciting place to work. Sometimes I find myself strolling into the other surgical subspecialties. It’s so exciting to see what’s going on.”

“We’ve made a lot of interesting advances in sleep surgery, and we recently performed our first tongue implant for sleep apnea. It’s a new technology where you can implant an electrode into the tongue to keep from snoring. We were the first in the state to perform that procedure.”

Pomerantz says the strength of the hospital’s integrated sleep program made that procedure possible. “We have sleep medicine consultants from neurology and pulmonary medicine. We work in a nice, tight-knit center to have comprehensive care for sleep surgery patients.”

 

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Hartford, Connecticut

By Liz Funk | Live & Practice | Winter 2017

 

Connecticut is home to some of the best private schools in the country. The Hartford area also has magnet schools, charter schools and nationally ranked public schools. With two large local health systems in the area, it’s no wonder physicians relocate to raise their families in Hartford.

Although she was born and raised in Pennsylvania and did her medical training up and down the East Coast, Lisa Gronski, D.O., feels right at home in Connecticut. She chose to move to Hartford after observing the area and the workplace while in training.

Lisa Gronski, D.O.,

Sports medicine physician Lisa Gronski, D.O., returned to Connecticut after fellowship in Florida. The Hartford school system was a big draw for her family. · Photo by Jane Shauck

Gronski explains, “I rotated through the different hospitals and health care systems during my time there. And so I spent a lot of time at Hartford Hospital and in the outpatient offices with Hartford HealthCare.” Today, she practices sports medicine with Hartford HealthCare.

Hartford’s family friendliness attracted her back to the area. She says, “That was another reason why we wanted to move back up to Connecticut. Where we live is a very safe area. There are a lot of activities for families to do together.”

Gronski and her family love the area’s outdoor offerings. She has a 4.5-year-old son and a 7-month-old daughter. “We like to be outside as much as we can, whether it’s ice skating, hiking, biking or fishing. We also like to take our son to various events throughout the state. There are lots of festivals and carnivals. There are beautiful parks to walk through. There is Elizabeth Park, which has a rose garden that has a pond where you can feed ducks, which my son loves.”

It’s not surprising Gronski loves being active outdoors. She was an athlete in high school and college, and these experiences influenced her career path.

She chose the University of Connecticut for her residency, and she later became chief resident. She completed a fellowship in sports medicine in Florida and moved back to Hartford for a job with Hartford HealthCare right after.

Hartford HealthCare operates five hospitals in the area, including Hartford Hospital, a teaching hospital in partnership with the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. The hospital has 867 beds and a Level I trauma center. Hartford HealthCare Medical Group operates 56 outpatient locations, employing 196 physicians and 84 advanced practitioners, who perform primary care, urgent care, specialty medicine and outpatient surgery.

“Working in this area is nice because I can access all the specialists in the tertiary care center to refer our patients,” says Gronski.

Another major employer of physicians in the Hartford area is Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center. Director of Physician Recruitment Christine Bourbeau says, “Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center has 617 beds. The Saint Francis Emergency Department works out of a new state-of-the-art, 70-bed Level II trauma and tertiary referral center with 85,000 visits. Hartford is the capital of Connecticut, and we’re a Catholic hospital, so we do take care of the uninsured. That’s our mission statement—that we care for everyone.” Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center is part of Trinity Health, which operates 93 hospitals, five of which are in New England.

Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center operates nearly 60 outpatient clinics, some of which are on site at Saint Francis. Bourbeau says, “When you come in to Saint Francis Hospital, part of it is a whole medical office building. We have various clinics within our hospital setting.”

Bourbeau is currently recruiting for psychiatry, internal medicine, maternal-fetal medicine, neurology, occupational medicine and OB-GYN. “The list goes on and on and on,” says Bourbeau. “It’s usually because we’re building. We’re continually adding new talent. As big of a hospital as it is, when doctors come and visit us, they see that it’s not so big you get lost in the system. It’s not intimidating for physicians. It’s a warm, embracing place where there’s a collegial atmosphere.” Perhaps this atmosphere is why Bourbeau herself has been an employee of Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center for 20 years.

When Bourbeau is recruiting physicians with families, Connecticut has a major selling point: education. “Connecticut has the best, best private schools. That’s what Connecticut is known for,” she raves. Some of the top private schools in Connecticut are Choate Rosemary Hall, the Hotchkiss School, Miss Porter’s School and the Taft School.

Connecticut’s public education also has locals singing its praises. Chip McCabe, director of marketing for the Hartford Business Improvement District, says, “The Capital Region Education Council (CREC) runs a lot of great of high schools in the Hartford region. Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts is world-renowned for arts disciplines. They have everything from creative writing to dance to music. There is a sports sciences high school and an aerospace and engineering high school,” says McCabe.

The schools were also a factor for drawing Gronski back to Connecticut. “The schools are top-notch and high-ranked throughout the country. That’s important because our son will be going into kindergarten soon.”

 

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Charleston, South Carolina

By Liz Funk | Live & Practice | Winter 2017

 

It’s likely you’ve spotted Charleston lately on top 10 lists of “Best Cities for Millennials,” “Fastest Growing Cities” or “Best Places for Freelancers.” Charleston has experienced a recent publicity boom and an influx of new residents. They’re drawn to the area by its fusion of southern hospitality and local urban flavor. Charleston is known for its great food, vibrant arts scene and colorful architecture.

“Boy, we’re getting a lot of people moving in and a lot of new docs,” says John Rowe, M.D., a family physician with Roper St. Francis Hospital System in Charleston, South Carolina. “The city is coming into its own. It has a good feel to it with all these new people coming in. New doctors and people find friends very quickly and get to be part of the community.”

Charleston is known nationally for its friendliness, and it’s also a popular place for parents to raise families.

“For families, people like the depth and variety it has to offer,” says Rowe. “We’ve got the beach and the water. We have a great parks system. We do get a little bit of winter, and it may last six to eight weeks. By May, the beaches are great.”

Rowe comes from a long line of physicians, and he felt drawn to family medicine. “My personality has always been to know a little bit about everything, and my personality likes a diverse group of patients and people. So family medicine was really the job description written for me.”

John Rowe, M.D.,

“New doctors and people find friends very quickly and get to be part of the community,” says John Rowe, M.D., of living in Charleston, South Carolina. Rowe attended medical school in Charleston and has practiced at Roper St. Francis for 15 years. · Photo by Richard Bell Photography

Rowe has practiced at Roper St. Francis for the past 15 years. Roper St. Francis operates three hospitals: two in Charleston and one in nearby Mount Pleasant. The system’s namesake, Roper Hospital, has 368 beds. Founded in 1829, it was the first community hospital in South Carolina. Roper St. Francis also operates more than 90 outpatient clinics and primary care practices in the area.

Rowe attended medical school in Charleston at the Medical University of South Carolina. “We have a great medical community in Charleston because of the history of these two organizations [Roper and the Medical University]. They’re separate, but they’re right across the street from each other. That adds a little interesting dynamic to it.”

Rowe says his alma mater does more than educate physicians. It also instills an affection for Charleston in medical residents. “It does help having that residency program here. They fall in love. Physician retention at Roper is pretty amazing. For a lot of docs who come out of residency, they want to stay. They park it. They’re happy, and they don’t leave. There are a lot of doctors in our community that have been here a long time.”

MUSC is working to grow its reach outside the hospital. Its primary care network has 13 primary care sites in Charleston and is expanding to include specialists within that network.

Misty Daniels, director of physician recruitment there, is a native Kentuckian who is new to Charleston. “You have the natural beauty: the beaches, the weather, the marshes,” she says. “You have the man-made beauty: the beautiful architecture, the gorgeous bridges. It’s a really pretty city. Then there is a lot of inner beauty in terms of the personalities of the people you meet and who you work with. I never have a problem pulling into traffic. People are always willing to let you cut in. It was one of the things that I didn’t think about in making the move, but it’s been a really nice thing to discover about Charleston.”

Patrick Cawley, M.D., is CEO for MUSC Health. He’s a native Pennsylvanian who has been on what he calls a “25 year Southward trend”: Scranton to D.C. to Durham and, eventually, Charleston.

“I’ve worked here at MUSC for almost 15 years,” Cawley says. “We have a great viewpoint when it comes to physician work. We’re pretty flexible when it comes to alternative hours or reduced hours if you need that. We have a lot of part-time physicians. At the same time, if you’re working full time, just about every department from my perspective balances that out pretty well. That’s the culture at MUSC and in Charleston—to make sure physicians enjoy life.”

Cawley also credits the area’s medical community with helping make Charleston a great place for physicians to live and practice.

“This medical community as a group is always trying to make care better,” he says. “That’s just a great environment to live in.”

Forty-six new people move to Charleston every day. “That number comes to us from the Realtors association of Charleston,” says Daniel Blumenstock, chairman of the Charleston Area Convention Center & Visitors Bureau. “My family and I can’t go out to dinner without running into someone we know. So if you have a physician moving into town, if they don’t have a network already, they can easily grow a network of people they’ve met that have similar likes. One person connects to another person. That synergy is a positive thing.”

“I absolutely love this area for raising my family,” says Rowe, who has three school-aged children. “It’s a great environment. I think every city or area has its benefits, but I wouldn’t have my kids anywhere else. There are definitely parts that are super family-friendly and young-family-focused. Mount Pleasant is an area that has affordable housing and an incredible elementary school and high school. Summerville is another one of those areas. Our community planners have really seen, as we grow our community, that we need to couple new housing with excellent education.”

Blumenstock says Charleston has a variety of top-notch educational options for children. “We have a lot of charter schools and magnet schools. We have charter schools that have a specialized focus, like the arts or technology. We have magnet schools that students test into. And we have an excellent public school system.” Blumenstock has three children, ages 17, 14 and 12. He says, “I’m living proof that it’s great to raise a family in the Charleston area.”

 

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