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.”

 

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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.”

 

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Golf Towns

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 PGA.com.

“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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The Great Outdoors

Live & Practice | Summer 2017

 

Working in medicine can be taxing, no doubt about it. So it’s no surprise that when many physicians plan their next career moves, they look for locations with easy access to the great outdoors. Whether they opt for active hobbies like biking and skiing or meditative activities like hiking and fishing, the fresh air helps them find peace in nature.

If you want to be close to nature while accelerating your health care career, read on to learn more about Glens Falls, New York; Columbus, Mississippi; Bangor, Maine; and Anchorage, Alaska.

Glens Falls, New York

Glens Falls is located north of New York’s capital but south of the Adirondack Mountains. It offers the outdoor activities that come with living near a park, as well as excellent outdoor arts and culture. Nearby Saratoga Springs is bustling with outdoor concerts, performances and a world-class horse racing facility during the summers. In the winter, ski slopes, tubing tracks and snowmobiling paths distract residents from the cold.

Chris Mason, D.O.

Chris Mason, D.O., found his job in an area where he had previously vacationed—Glens Falls, New York.

When Chris Mason, D.O., started looking for his next position, he signed up for a physician account with PracticeLink.com. He still remembers the subject line of the message he received from Antoinetta Backus, manager of physician recruitment and retention for Glens Falls Hospital in Glens Falls, New York: “Live like you’re on vacation.”

Mason was living in Long Island at the time, and for several years, he had taken annual vacations to nearby Saratoga Springs with friends. He was very familiar with the area, so it wasn’t too hard of a sell. Backus invited Mason for an interview, and she showed his wife around the town. Today, Mason is a hematologist at Glens Falls Hospital. He enjoys living with his wife and infant son in New York’s Adirondack Region.

“I love that there are things to do in all four seasons,” he raves. “We love to be outdoors. We love to ski. In fall and spring, the leaves change, which is beautiful. There is hiking and mountain biking. There are a lot of great restaurants, and there is a lot of culture.” Mason also enjoys seeing the New York Philharmonic during the orchestra’s annual residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, an outdoor amphitheater in Saratoga Springs.

Outsiders don’t always realize the area has so many offerings. Backus says, “When folks ask me about the size of Glens Falls—depending on where they are coming from—they may think it’s rural. But everything is here that you need. You can be as busy as you want or as quiet as you want.”

The same could be said for Glens Falls Hospital. Physicians can find work-life balance while accelerating their careers. “It’s a 410-bed hospital,” says Backus. “We have 570 physicians and advanced providers on staff. Every specialty is represented: orthopedics, surgical and labor and delivery, to name a few. We have a busy ER. Our staff is stable. People have been here many, many years. Our staff is so stable. There is very little turnover.”

The hospital’s work-life balance and the area’s high quality of life were what attracted Mason to Glens Falls Hospital.

Mason chose hematology and medical oncology because of the deep doctor-patient relationships he saw in the specialty. “I’ve been inspired by the patients,” he says. “Patients with cancer develop a close personal relationship with their doctor. My interest in my subspecialty was always inspired by oncology patients.”

But although Mason enjoyed his work with his previous employer, life in a New York City suburb wasn’t a match for his love of the outdoors. “Our quality of life had eroded on Long Island,” he says. “The amount of people, the amount of traffic, noise had started to really get to us.”

When Mason and his wife visited to meet Backus and interview at Glens Falls Hospital, they felt an instant connection to the area. “We found what we were looking for in the sense of having a house with a nice yard and less congestion and traffic on the roads,” he says. “There are a lot of opportunities and activities to spend time with kids. Now we have a 6-month-old son, Christopher Jr., and that was another reason we looked to come up here. We wanted to have a family, and this job provided an opportunity to focus on work-life balance and have a higher quality of life.”

Speaking of which, Mason just got a new pair of skis. “It’s great being so close to Vermont and Lake Placid. In a couple years, we will start Christopher Jr. in a ski program. For now, we all go on hikes.”

Columbus, Mississippi

Combine Southern hospitality with a thriving economy, and you get Columbus, Mississippi. The area offers the best of both worlds in more ways than one. Newcomers can settle into historic homes or modern neighborhoods. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy boating and fishing or venture into the nearby woods to hunt. Physicians can relax in Mississippi nature one day and spend the next working at a 315-bed hospital that has been growing at a dizzying pace.

John Reed, M.D.

Life in Columbus, Mississippi, allows for both a cutting-edge work life and weekends spent in the woods for John Reed, M.D

John Reed, M.D., had almost retired. He was ready to pass his nephrology practice on to his partners and turn his focus to running a small farm, hunting and volunteering by tagging deer for a state wildlife study. But an opportunity arose at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle, a 315-bed hospital in Columbus, Mississippi, that was too interesting to pass up.

A born-and-raised Mississippian, Reed settled in Jackson, Mississippi, where he completed a nephrology fellowship and opened a dialysis and nephrology practice.

He ran this practice for 30 years—opening four sites and recruiting several partners along the way. “We had clinical trials and published a good bit,” remembers Reed. After three decades, he wanted to spend more time at his cabin in the woods. But just as he was getting ready to hand over his practice to his partners and spend more time outside, he learned Baptist Memorial was looking for a quality director who could start a hospitalist program.

The position was right up Reed’s alley, and he could still enjoy the great outdoors during his off-time in Columbus. So Reed continued to work.

“I did both the hospitalist program and quality for a few years,” Reed says. “I started that hospitalist program, and then other opportunities started to pop up. There were a number of medical directorships within the hospital that I was considering. I was named the first chief medical officer.”

Reed enjoyed his work as chief medical officer, and that showed in his outcomes. Reed says, “The hospital grew. It had great, great outcomes. In 2013, we were named one of top 10 hospitals in America for VHA. We’ve grown exponentially. I initially agreed to work a couple years. I’ve worked 10. It’s been so exciting.”

Christina Dickey, who works in physician development for Baptist Memorial Hospital, says that Baptist Medical Group operates seven clinics in the Columbus area in addition to the Baptist Memorial Hospital flagship site. These include family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics, cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, general surgery and pulmonary disease.

Reed says, “Baptist Memorial Hospital is based out of Memphis. They have been in the hospital business over 100 years. Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle is a standalone entity, and yet we’re also a part of this system, and we’ve got some really great leaders there. When we talk about the growth of Baptist Memorial Hospital, I give almost all the credit to having been able to be on a great team with great physicians and above-site administrators. I happened to be a part of a number of great teams. I’ve recruited 30 to 40 doctors in the past few years. I’ve found myself to be surrounded by great people, and we’ve had some great outcomes for our patients and for our system of hospitals.”

Dickey is currently recruiting for psychiatry, pulmonary medicine, general surgery, internal medicine and cardiology. She says that the area is attractive to physicians because it’s a “great place to live and raise a family, with close proximity to larger metro cities, an excellent airport for travel connecting to Atlanta and low cost of living.”

“I feel like people think of Columbus as a hidden gem,” says Nancy Carpenter, executive director and CEO of Visit Columbus. “People frequently say to me, ‘I had no idea that Columbus was this pretty.’”

Carpenter explains, “We’re a town of 25,000, and the county has 50,000 people. We have 135 restaurants and 1,600 hotel rooms. We have a brand-new Fairfield Inn, a Courtyard and a Marriott, and we’re getting a new Holiday Inn Express in January.” Carpenter notes that Columbus is one of the largest industrial markets in Mississippi, adding, “We got a great burst of economic development.”

She continues, “We’re fortunate for our location. We’re in the middle of a lot of communities that are thriving, not just surviving. If people like old-world charm and Southern hospitality, they’re certainly in the right place. But they can also have great recreation and modern culinary choices and housing options. People can certainly enjoy being in Columbus in a quaint historic area or a thriving neighborhood that is child-friendly.”

There’s plenty to do in Columbus, thanks in part to Mississippi’s warm climate. Carpenter says, “We have a terrific waterway—it’s the largest manmade waterway after the Panama Canal. There’s boating and fishing on the waterway, and every summer, we have Fireworks on the Water where 10,000 people come out to see an elaborate fireworks display. People also enjoy the riverwalk. There is a 45-mile path that people like to walk and run.”

As for Reed, he is able to work at a cutting-edge medical center and spend his weekends at his cabin in the woods. During the past hunting season, he provided deer meat to four needy families in the Columbus area. Reed’s commitment to caring for others extends to his life outside the hospital. He says that this sense of community is simply part of life in Columbus.

Bangor, Maine

Bangor, Maine, offers the visual beauty of New England, including the picturesque summers and the winters that look borrowed from a holiday card. Part of Bangor’s allure is its beautiful landscapes, as well as the many outdoor activities provided by nearby Hermon Mountain, skiing areas and the Penobscot River. Top talent is attracted to the area in part for the rural beauty and in part for the interesting challenges that come with a large service area.

When Jonathan Wood, M.D., was looking for a new position, he had a choice between pursuing a job at a freestanding children’s hospital or looking for one at a smaller hospital with no intensivist program.

He found a happy medium in Eastern Maine Medical Center, a 411-bed hospital with a tertiary pediatric center, where he is the senior lead physician for pediatrics. “We are the only tertiary pediatric offering in the northern two thirds of the state,” says Wood. “I’ve been supported in trying to grow the inpatient services and some of the outpatient services so that we can genuinely say we’re a full-service institution with few pointed exceptions”

Wood attended Yale for his undergraduate degree in history. He taught high school for three years before attending Dartmouth for medical school. He completed his pediatric residency at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, then worked at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

“When I was at University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, we were looking to change our location, so I was looking at a bunch of different jobs,” Wood says. He didn’t have specific criteria in mind. Rather, he wanted to see what was available somewhat locally.

Eastern Maine Medical Center appealed to him for its pediatric offerings, and Bangor appealed to him as a place for him and his wife to raise their four children. “It was a very welcoming place. When we moved here, I had a fifth grader, two eighth graders and a sophomore in high school. It was striking how welcomed they felt. It’s really been great. In my 15th year, my kids are all out and about, but some of them talk about coming back to Maine to live.”

Kerrie Tripp, executive director of the Greater Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau, says, “There’s a lot of great things about life in Bangor regarding physicians with families or physicians planning to start a family, the entertainment we have and the school districts. They’re pretty spectacular. We also have great outdoor activities. We’re a four-season area.”

She continues, “We have a phenomenal municipal golf course. It’s Audubon-rated and played for three seasons. Then during the winter, they groom parts of the course for snowshoeing areas and cross-country skiing areas. They’ve turned it into this wonderful outdoor space for all ages.”

This vibrant local culture attracts top-notch medical talent to Bangor. Wood says, “We have a group of really young, energetic, driven, mission-based people. They are all incredibly well-trained.”

A program called Maine Career Connect focuses on those who moved for their spouses’ jobs, since they may not have the same opportunities as their spouses to meet people and get acclimated through work. Tripp explains, “This is a program that helps them make connections, make friends, learn about industry in the area and help them to feel at home here.”

Another large employer in Bangor is St. Joseph Hospital, a 112-bed hospital. David Koffman, M.D., one of the site’s medical directors, says, “One of the things I stress about St. Joe’s is that it is a place that really has a patient-first approach. That’s something people like about this place. It’s not about the bottom line. Our priority is to take care of our patients. For a small hospital, we feel we offer a pretty wide range of services, and it’s a place people like to come to work. Everyone knows each other. You don’t feel like you’re working in a nondescript environment. You’re working with people you know and like, who know you by name. The patients are incredibly appreciative to receive care.”

Lisa Cramm is a physician recruitment and retention specialist for Covenant Health, of which St. Joseph Hospital is a member.

Cramm says, “We have a pretty big primary care base. We have five local family practices with a total of 17 primary care physicians. We have an internal medicine group with 18 providers. We have rheumatology, as well as endocrine-diabetic. We have general surgery. We partner with an excellent orthopedic group. We have gastroenterology, cardio, pulmonary and critical care. We have a good wound service. We’ve got a great occupational health group, and we have a full-service emergency room.”

St. Joseph Hospital also operates two family practices in Bangor, one family practice in Brewer and one in Hampden, a suburb of Bangor. Koffman says, “We are truly a community hospital for this community. And then there are a bunch of communities where patients come from some distances to see us. St. Joe’s is the place they depend on.”

“We are a fairly rural community, but we are lucky enough to provide good health care and have top-notch equipment. We are four hours north of Boston. Most patients don’t want to get their health care outside of the local area. If possible, they want us to manage it and not send it out to referral centers. Hospitals our size don’t often have the opportunity to do this, but we do. We can see and manage pretty complex cases,” says Koffman.

Eastern Maine Medical Center also channels a community-oriented mission.

Wood believes this contributes to the organization’s culture. “I think the physicians who come here are here for good reasons,” says Wood. “They don’t come here for the reasons that a lot of tertiary centers attract talent. There’s no climb the ladder feel. You come here to practice. It’s hands-on, and there are not a ton of trainees between you and the patient. We have a taste of an academic medical center, but that’s not what people come here for. They come here to practice … and then they come here for the geography, for the outdoors. They come here for the mountains and the lake. They come here for the hiking and the outdoor activities. They want a city that is kind of a small city but also has excellent outdoor offerings.”

Anchorage, Alaska

If you picture coats, hats, boots and scarves when you picture Alaska, you’re only half right. Alaska winters offer lots of reasons to get bundled up and enjoy the great outdoors, but Alaska also has picturesque summers. Many residents enjoy hiking, biking and camping—no parkas necessary.

To say that Daniel Hartman, M.D., is outdoorsy would be an understatement. He is a family practice physician with Southcentral Foundation, an Alaska Native-owned health care organization in and beyond Anchorage. And long before he became a physician, Hartman spent his time outside, learning about the many inhabitants of the great outdoors.

As an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire, he majored in biology and concentrated on marine invertebrate zoology. His early career foreshadowed his move; he spent some time as a marine mammal biologist, a career that brought him to Alaska frequently.

After earning a public health master’s degree at Boston University, Hartman decided to pursue medical school in Philadelphia, then traded coasts for his residency at San Francisco General Hospital. After residency, Alaska called his name. “In 2002, my wife and I moved to Bethel,” Hartman says. “Bethel is in western Alaska near the Bering Sea. It’s a 400-mile flight from Anchorage.”

In 2013, the family settled in Anchorage, where they live today. Hartman says quality of life factored into their decision. “Our kids are 11 and 13,” he explains. “We chose Anchorage and Southcentral because of its work-life balance. …We looked at the whole world for options, and we chose Anchorage for its excellent schools, very short commutes and access to trails and outdoor life.”

Southcentral Foundation provides a full scope of health care services to those living in Anchorage and the 55 rural villages in the Anchorage Service Unit, a service area in southcentral Alaska that spans 107,400 square miles. Southcentral Foundation offers a wide spectrum of care, including audiology, pediatrics, optometry, OB/GYN and Native men’s health services. The foundation also jointly operates an emergency room at the Alaska Native Medical Center with the operators of the medical center, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

Another Anchorage employer is Alaska Regional Hospital, a 250-bed hospital which is part of HCA Healthcare. The hospital’s offerings include an orthopedic and spine center, a wound care center, a cancer care center and a NICU.

Ralph Costanzo, M.D., the chief medical officer of Alaska Regional Hospital, speaks highly of the hospital and its community. “The folks are incredibly friendly,” he says. “The medical staff is very gifted. The team comes from all over the world. They’re here mainly because they love the area.”

Costanzo believes Alaska’s outdoor offerings are a big part of the draw. “Anchorage is a wonderful, large-small town. It’s a cliché, but if you do really enjoy four-season recreation, you’ll love it here,” says Costanzo.

Outdoors enthusiasts will never be bored in Anchorage. Hartman says, “Anchorage is an extraordinary place if you like the outdoors and trails. It’s an incredible trail city. It has everything people would want for urban amenities like good coffee, music, restaurants and brewpubs.”

But while there’s plenty to do in Anchorage, it’s not always go, go, go. Julie Saupe, president and CEO of Visit Anchorage, says, “We are the city for Alaska, but still we are not fast-paced at all. People get things done, but we’re relaxed as a community. We are a community of relaxed doers. I think that’s the main thing to know beforehand, before coming to Anchorage.”

She adds that the weather shouldn’t deter prospective residents. “In southcentral Alaska, we are surrounded by water, so we don’t get the extreme temperatures on the warm side and the cold side,” she explains. “Winter shouldn’t be intimidating.”

The advantage of Anchorage, according to Saupe, is “a combination of the scenic beauty and the outdoor opportunities.” She explains, “They go hand-in-hand. We have amazing hiking in the summertime and amazing skiing in the winter. It’s an outdoorsman’s paradise.”

Hartman falls into that category. “I am a climber—winter and summer,” he says. “My family and I go skiing quite a bit. We do trail running, and we are big on mountain biking. This is an incredible city for single-track mountain biking. There are a lot of boating opportunities—limitless boating opportunities.”

When the snow melts, Alaskans leave the extra layers of clothing at home and enjoy other warm weather activities. “In the summer, my family and I do a lot of camping in the national parks,” says Hartman.

Saupe agrees that there are plenty of outdoor activities.

She says, “You can hike on a glacier. You can go whale-watching. If you want to go fishing, we have world-class fishing within an hour of Anchorage. I have lived here since 1990. Every day, I drive home and look at the mountains and think, Wow, this is a beautiful place. It’s in your face every day. You can’t forget that you live in a place of vast wilderness.”

 

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Live & Practice: Small Towns

By Liz Funk | Live & Practice | Spring 2017

 

Living in a small town or city has its advantages: a built-in sense of community, an easygoing lifestyle and shorter commutes. Physicians practicing in small towns and cities across America often develop especially strong relationships with their patients, and those relationships can afford extra insight into what’s going on with their patient population. This isn’t to say, however, that physicians looking to work there are limited to joining small practices. Many of these locations have large health systems that serve vast patient populations, including community members as well as those in outlying areas.

Eric Francis, M.D.

After undergrad in Chicago and residency in Colorado, Eric Francis, M.D., headed back home to Texas. His family enjoys the area’s water sports and German festivals. · Photo by Ashlee Newman

New Braunfels, Texas

This town of 70,000 people has no shortage of things to do. The city is known for its many seasonal traditions, including Wurstfest, the annual German food and drink festival going on its 56th year; Wassailfest, a holiday event where revelers stroll downtown and sample the spicy cider drink at stores or restaurants participating in the wassail competition; and the annual arrival of Santa Claus to New Braunfels.

“My grandparents came to New Braunfels about 25 years ago. They were looking around Texas, and they were looking for a place that they thought the kids and grandkids would all enjoy. They looked all across Texas and moved to New Braunfels,” says Eric Francis, M.D., a family medicine physician with Resolute Health Hospital in New Braunfels. “Over the past 20 to 25 years, all the grandkids have slowly migrated to this area. …It took 25 years, but now we’re all in the same town.”

Francis explains, “I grew up in El Paso, Texas, and I went to a small liberal arts school just west of Chicago called Wheaton College. I moved back to Austin for a year between undergrad and medical school, and that’s when I officially met my wife.”

Francis stayed local for medical school but took a risk for his residency. “I did medical school in Houston at Baylor College of Medicine. Then I put the map on the table and my wife and I said, ‘Hey, where would be a good place for me to do my residency?’”

Francis and his wife decided on the University of Colorado. Francis says, “I finished my residency and internship there, and I was working for Kaiser Permanente for about six years. For nine years, we lived up in Colorado, and our third child was on the way, and we thought, ‘It would be nice to be closer to family.’ Resolute Health Hospital just happened to be starting up at the same time. …I liked the vision they had. I pursued that opportunity and now I’m here.”

Today, Francis, his wife and their three children live in New Braunfels and enjoy the area’s wide variety of activities, including one of the largest water parks in the country, Schlitterbahn New Braunfels Water Park.

Danyl Butler, director of business development for Resolute Health Hospital, says the area’s diverse activities and attractions draw talent. “There’s something here for everyone—activities or events for families, festivals, beautiful German architecture, and access to water sports.” This variety is helpful for Resolute Health, as they are always recruiting. Says Butler, “There is a huge shortage of primary care providers in the market, so we are actively looking to bring primary care physicians and family physicians to New Braunfels. Although primary care is our primary focus, there are also opportunities for medical and surgical specialists.”

Resolute Health Hospital has 128 beds and was founded in 2014. Butler says, “Resolute Health Hospital has all of the latest amenities and technology. The culture at Resolute Health is also a plus. We have a very engaged workforce with high employee satisfaction scores. Our patient experience scores are consistently among the highest across Tenet Healthcare-owned hospitals. The hospital is built in one of the fastest-growing areas of Comal County.”

Resolute Health also operates a primary care clinic in the medical office building attached to Resolute Health Hospital. There is also an outpatient physical rehabilitation center on the campus. Resolute Health is affiliated with Tenet Healthcare-owned MedPost Urgent Care clinics in New Braunfels and nearby Seguin.

Francis says two main factors make New Braunfels so special: “It’s a combination of the water sports—the rivers and lakes—and just the uniqueness of an old German town. They’ve got festivals. There’s the Wurstfest. It’s fun to be able to celebrate sausage and German people in a big festival. There’s this uniqueness here that you don’t find anymore. Last month, the whole town shut down for the annual county fair. Kids can march in the parade to celebrate the fair. The schools are out for the parade.”

Says Francis, “New Braunfels, I would say, is the best place in Texas to live. It’s an old, unique town, but within 45 minutes you can get to two of the best cities in Texas: Austin and San Antonio.” And during the summer, New Braunfels is the place to stay cool. “Our neighborhood is connected to the river. In this part of the country during the summer, you tube in the river. You can get a lot more land down here. There’s a forest in our backyard. The kids really enjoy the outdoors,” says Francis. “It’s nice to be in a small town that has its own unique character. New Braunfels itself is pretty self-contained. Everything we need is here.”

David Baker, M.D.

A search for a positive quality of life helped David Baker, M.D., choose Carson City, Nevada, as home. The community offers all kinds of opportunities to be active outdoors—skiiing, hiking, camping and more. · Photo by Lemaire Photography

Carson City, Nevada

You can drive from one side of Carson City to the other in under 15 minutes, and the small town is also within driving distance of Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Sacramento and beaches in California and Oregon. The city—the state capital—is nestled along the western border of Nevada, just to the east of the Sierra Nevada.

David Baker, M.D., has called several different regions of the United States home. He has lived in Davis, California; Omaha, Nebraska; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; and now Carson City, Nevada. He says he has enjoyed Carson City most of all these places.

“We love the area, period,” he says. “Some of it is the basics. The weather is phenomenal. It’s sunny 320 days a year, and there’s no humidity. The location is phenomenal. We are located on the backside of the Sierra mountains. We’re close to San Francisco, the Sierras, the California coast and the Oregon coast.”

One reason Baker has moved around so much is his medical training. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of California-Davis and attended medical school at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He completed his residency at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon, and a fellowship in cardiology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He made his way to Carson City, where he has been practicing cardiology for 10 years. For the past six years, he has worked for Carson Tahoe Health, the largest provider of medical care in Carson City.

Carson Tahoe Health has an 80-acre campus in Carson City with virtually all its services concentrated in one location, a 352,000-square-foot medical building. The facility has 144 acute care beds with 138 private rooms. The facility also has an open-heart surgery program with a private cardiovascular unit, a women and children’s center, a hybrid OR suite and vascular and catheterization labs.

Shay Dusek, practice administrator for Carson Tahoe Health, says, “Carson Tahoe Health is a private, not-for-profit health system with a beautiful modern hospital and offices. All decisions are made locally, and management is accessible to physicians, solicits physician input, and responds to physicians’ suggestions and recommendations.” Dusek is currently recruiting physicians in family medicine, internal medicine, oncology, general cardiology, psychiatry, pain management, and neurology.

“The lifestyle is good,” says Baker, on working for Carson Tahoe Health. “The hours are good. The people you work with are quite good. It’s nice having everything right on campus. You concentrate all your services in one location. For a small community, we have excellent care.”

Quality of life is what initially attracted Baker and his wife to Carson City. They thought it would be a good place to raise their two daughters. “Now they’re both grown and in college, but that was one of the things that brought us to Carson,” Baker says.

“We are a family community. This is a family kind of a town. This town is where Nevada began. We were once the seat of the Utah territory before we became the capital of Nevada. Lots of people think Vegas is the capital. It’s not. It’s Carson City,” says Ronni Hannaman, executive director of the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We are a small community. We are a community in every sense of the word. People here are very, very friendly,” says Hannaman. Carson City has a population of 55,000, but 15,000 people commute there every day for work, for shopping and, of course, medical care.

Nevada’s economic benefits are especially attractive for job seekers. Baker explains, “There are no state income taxes, and the casinos pay a decent amount of taxes. The sales tax and property tax isn’t that bad. All of this keeps more money in your pocket.”

Of course, Nevada’s casinos are also a draw for many. Carson City is approximately a seven-hour drive to Las Vegas, but Hannaman says that the Carson City community tends to be more outdoorsy. “If someone is really into the outdoors, the living here is great,” Hannaman says, adding that hiking, bicycling and skiing are popular among locals.

Baker agrees, “It’s a very outdoorsy community. We’re nearby 20-odd ski mountains. I do a little bit of skiing. A lot of my colleagues will get in 70 or 80 days of skiing a year. I do a lot of hiking, backpacking and camping.”

“The great thing about working for Carson Tahoe Health or any of the many private practices, is you can live at Lake Tahoe, Reno or any of the towns and surrounding communities like Genoa or Virginia City,” says Dusek. “You get the benefit of smaller town living with no state taxes and with access to world-class ski resorts and next door to beautiful Lake Tahoe.”

Marlton, New Jersey

Just 30 minutes from Philadelphia, 90 minutes from New York City and 2 hours from Baltimore, Marlton is popular among people who want to be near family in one of these major geographic areas while enjoying a small-town lifestyle. Marlton has strong community spirit, with several annual festivals sponsored by local government and scores of free exercise facilities, family activities and classes such as yoga and karate for residents.

Small towns and rural areas sometimes present a challenge for health care providers. That was the case when a rural southern New Jersey community first contracted with CFG Health Network, which is based in Marlton.

The community asked CFG to cover its psychiatry needs. But a week before the contract was to begin, there was a new requirement: all physicians had to be able to get to the facility within an hour of getting a call.

None of CFG’s physicians lived within an hour of the facility, so a team from CFG traveled to Virginia to learn about what was then a new pilot program for telepsychiatry. And with that, a new CFG service line was born.

Back then, the telepsychiatry machine cost $25,000. CFG owned two: one at the hospital and one that traveled weekly between office locations.

Now, it’s a different story. Thanks to HIPPA-compliant technology for laptops and tablets, half of CFG’s physicians work outside New Jersey. One even practices from his sailboat in Florida.

In all, CFG employs about 1,200 people, including approximately 200 psychiatrists and 90 nurse practitioners. About 10 of those clinicians are based in Marlton. The network provides telepsychiatry services for a variety of settings, including hospitals, prisons, schools and treatment facilities. CFG also owns a residential treatment facility and outpatient clinics.

James Varrell, M.D., was part of the original team that traveled to Virginia to learn about telepsychiatry. He is now CFG’s medical director and president. He grew up in Marlton and enjoys its small-town feel. “My mother works at our office still,” he says.

Another Marlton medical employer is Virtua Health, a non-profit health system that operates three hospitals in the Marlton area. Virtua Memorial Hospital is a full-service hospital with 433 beds. Virtua Voorhees Hospital is a new facility with 388 beds, all of which are in single rooms. Virtua Marlton Hospital has 188 beds and offers advanced surgeries and spine, joint replacement and stroke specialists.

Virtua also operates 24 primary and more than 70 specialty practices. Says Courtney Kennedy, physician network director for Virtua: “We’ve been named ‘Best Place to Work’ by the Philadelphia Business Journal 11 years in a row.” She is currently recruiting for urgent care, family medicine, gastroenterology, surgery, neurosciences and hospitalists.

Marlton offers an easy drive to Philadelphia and New York, and it’s also close to the shore. “Marlton’s a very nice middle-class town,” Varrell says. “It also has a great school system.”

There are lots of activities for families in Marlton, according to Allison Bittner, special services & communications supervisor for Evesham Township Department of Recreation & Senior Services. Evesham Township includes Marlton, and its municipal offices are located in Marlton. “We offer quarterly recreation programs: winter, spring, summer and fall,” she says. “They range from arts and crafts to exercise classes, like swimming or karate. Yoga is extremely popular among adults.”

Bittner says the Evesham Memorial Sports Complex, free of charge for residents, is another popular destination for families. This indoor recreation facility has basketball courts, volleyball courts, tennis courts and a very large playground for kids.

“We do a lot of special events throughout the year that are open to the public,” says Bittner. “We do a lot of July 4th activities: we have a parade, we do a 5K run, we do fireworks at night. We put on a Harvest Fest in the fall, Winterfest in the winter, and Marlton Day in May, sponsored by the Marlton Business Association. It’s on Main Street, and it highlights the local Marlton businesses.”

“For anyone who wants to raise a family, it’s a great place,” Varrell says.

Pierre, South Dakota

In a way, South Dakota’s state capital is also the health care capital for half of the state. Pierre offers a tight-knit community where physicians can build meaningful relationships with patients. Its medical community serves a patient population spanning a 100-mile radius around Pierre. This presents unique and interesting challenges for providers. Physicians must tailor treatment for patients who drive long distances for medical care. Luckily, the natural beauty of South Dakota makes these drives scenic.

“I was born in this town. I did all my schooling here,” says Thomas Huber, M.D., a family physician with the Sanford Health Pierre Clinic. Huber was part of the first class to graduate from the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. Students who came before him had to transfer from Sanford’s two-year medical school to receive their degrees at a four-year school. But while Huber was a student, Sanford became a four-year degree-granting medical school.

“When I finished my schooling, and it came time to decide where I wanted to be, my choices were to go to the western part of the state or go to the river,” says Huber. “Pierre is on the river. The Missouri River comes right through the center of the state. I decided to practice in Pierre. There are lots of opportunities in this community. Pierre is the state capital. It has a low unemployment rate and a very high percentage of college-educated people who work here. It has an abundance of outdoor activities available either on the river or on the prairies, if you like to fish and hunt, which I do.”

Huber offers high praise for Pierre: “My wife is from here, and all of our families are still here. If I was faced with making that decision again, I would still end up here.” Huber has three adult children. His middle daughter lives in Pierre with her husband and two children, which Huber says, “worked out great for Grandma and Grandpa.”

Suzette Hohwieler, a physician recruiter for Avera Health in South Dakota, says, “South Dakota is a great place to live, work and raise a family. South Dakota has a strong economy, and many communities have been recognized nationally for their family-friendly atmosphere, excellent educational system and low crime rate.” Hohwieler is also quick to mention that South Dakota has no state income tax or corporate income tax.

Avera operates Avera St. Mary’s Hospital, a 60-bed hospital in Pierre. Avera Medical Group Pierre includes 52 physicians and advanced practice providers in 13 specialties. Sanford Health, which operates the Sanford Health Pierre Clinic where Huber practices, provides services including family medicine, cardiology, pediatric cardiology and 3D mammography.

Hohwieler says, “The market area provides the physicians and staff the opportunity to get to know their patients, as well as their families.” Huber adds, “The area we serve here is not limited at all by the town that we live in. We’re the center of the state, and we have a population of the two communities on the river. We’re the only medical community for a 100-mile radius, perhaps even more so. You get to have special relationships with all the people who live in the community. You learn how to make it work for the people.”

Pierre is excellent for those who love the outdoors. Says Laura Schoen Carbonneau, CEO of the Pierre Area Chamber of Commerce, “We are very, very heavy into outdoor recreation. People are very enthusiastic about fishing and hunting. Pheasant season is huge. It’s almost like a national holiday. We have lots of privately owned land and lodges, and pheasant hunters from all around the country come to Pierre and hunt.” Schoen Carbonneau says small-mouth bass, salmon and walleye are the most popular targets in the area.

Schoen Carbonneau also emphasizes the area’s central location, great for both local getaways and cross-country travel. “We have one of the nicest regional airports in the state, with 50-seat jet service to Denver,” Schoen Carbonneau says. “People can get away to Rapid City, to Sioux Falls or Bismarck. Because we are in the middle of the country, if you’re flying, it makes for very easy connections going east or west. Just because you come to Pierre doesn’t mean you can’t be connected on a larger scale as well.”

Still, the local connection is what keeps many residents in Pierre. Huber says, “If you grow up in a smaller community, I think your ties are stronger, and it’s been proven by the fact that when I came back here many years ago as a young physician. In the clinic I went into, there were lots of patients in that clinic who knew me as a little kid and watched me grow up.”

Huber calls this a “continuity of familiarity.” He says, “Some people in medicine might view it as not a good thing, but I view it differently. When you know your community and you know the people in the community, it makes it a little bit easier for you as a physician to understand how best to take care of the diversity of patients you see and the diversity of issues they may have. I don’t see that as a detriment; I see that as a very positive aspect of practicing medicine in a smaller community.”

 

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Albuquerque, New Mexico

By Liz Funk | Live & Practice | Winter 2017

 

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta draws visitors from all over the world and attracts plenty of media attention, but it’s just one of many activities for families in this outdoorsy part of the country. Families also enjoy a climate that’s pleasantly hot but not humid.

Christopher Calder, M.D., moved cross-country with his wife from New York to New Mexico mainly to escape the cold. “Long story short, I was in practice in upstate New York, and my adult daughter had moved to Albuquerque to do a master’s degree in public health,” Calder says. “We followed her here. A lot of people end up here relatively serendipitously like that. It’s not a place that most people think of going, which is something many of us like about it.”

Calder attended medical school in New Zealand, where he was born and raised. He completed his residency in neurology at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. He had a practice in Albany, New York, until 2012. Today, Calder is the neurology department vice chair at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. “The job was an opportunity to move on and try an academic department instead of private practice. It was supposed to be a retirement job, and now I’m chair of the department.”

San Felipe de Neri church

San Felipe de Neri church was built in 1793 and is still home to an active parish in Albuquerque.

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center is the umbrella that connects the university’s academic programs, research programs and patient care. The University of New Mexico Hospitals operates five hospitals, including University of New Mexico Hospital, University of New Mexico Psychiatric Center, University of New Mexico Children’s Psychiatric Center, University of New Mexico Carrie Tingley Hospital and University of New Mexico Young Children’s Health Center. UNM Hospitals also operates clinics, including a women’s healthcare clinic, pediatric clinics and an ophthalmology clinic.

“We are the service area for 2 million plus people,” says Calder. “Albuquerque is the center of the state, so people come from long distances. We also see patients from southern Colorado and some from western Texas. Whatever field you’re in, there is usually a job. There is usually a good job. This is a good place to practice.”

Kelly Herrera, a physician recruiter for Presbyterian Healthcare Services, echoes this. Presbyterian Healthcare Services is a not-for-profit health system that operates eight hospitals in New Mexico and employs more than 700 physicians in 50 specialties. “You have a great team to refer patients to. There’s a robust medical group,” says Herrera.

Three of those eight hospitals are in the Albuquerque area. Presbyterian Hospital, the system’s flagship, is a 453-bed hospital that sees 70,000 ER visits a year. Kaseman Hospital has 55 beds and Rust Medical Center has 92 beds. Presbyterian Healthcare Services also operates outpatient clinics and urgent care clinics throughout Albuquerque. “We have been around for 106 years. The organization is very stable, and we continue to grow,” says Herrera.

As if job stability weren’t enough, Albuquerque also boasts 300 days of sunshine a year. “Our area is known for people who want to be outdoors. It is classified as a dry heat. You’re not going to get that moisture that you would in other parts of the U.S. What’s really cool is that you can go up to the mountains and play in the snow and then come back and golf,” says Herrera.

“There’s something for everyone. There is a lot of jazz and blues. There are a lot of playhouses here,” Calder says.

And of course, there are hot air balloons. “We are the hot air ballooning capital of the world,” says Brenna Moore, communications specialist for Visit Albuquerque. “The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta happens every October. It’s nearly 600 hot air balloons going up all at once. You can walk on the field and walk between the balloons and talk to the pilots,” says Moore. Nearly 1 million visitors come to Albuquerque to enjoy the nine-day festival. The event is a widely anticipated annual activity for local families.

Another popular family activity in Albuquerque is visiting local Native American pueblos. “We have 19 Native American pueblos within the state. It’s like a glimpse back in history. The Native American culture has so much influence on our food and ways of life,” says Moore.

On feast days, families who live in pueblos across the state open their homes to the public and cook for visitors. Dancers perform for the crowds, and pueblo members wear traditional attire. Moore says another popular family destination is the Albuquerque BioPark, which comprises of an aquarium, zoo, botanical gardens, a small beach and a fishing lake for children. Moore adds, “Because the weather is so nice, many of our parks and outdoor activities are open sunrise to sunset every day.”

The warmer temperatures in New Mexico suit Calder, who sees the climate as conducive to a friendly culture. “People are very friendly. People here enjoy a very nice outdoor lifestyle. From mid-April to the end of October, we will often sit outside to have dinner,” he says.

Calder may not have raised his daughter in New Mexico, but now the state is home to them both. That’s not all they have in common. After pursuing graduate work in public health, Calder’s daughter decided she wanted to work more directly with patients. She became an EEG technician and works at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center.

 

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Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth’s outdoorsy culture has contributed to a recent influx of new residents. Both newcomers and long-time locals enjoy year-round outdoor activities such as camping, fishing and hiking. And because people from outlying rural areas travel to Duluth for their health care, physicians stay busy with a diverse patient population.

Live & Practice | Summer 2016

 

Husband-and-wife physicians Brandon Hankey, M.D., and Kelsey Schultz, M.D., needed to think strategically as they searched for jobs during their second year of residency at Michigan State University in Grand Rapids. Hankey had chosen a specialization in emergency medicine, and Schultz had chosen family medicine. Naturally, they needed to make sure they ended up in the same city. They both received offers from St. Luke’s Health Care System in Duluth, Minnesota, and by both physicians’ accounts, the situation has been more than ideal.

“When we were looking for jobs, we wanted a great mix of pleasant people but also an environment that was still busy and professionally challenging. We wanted a future-minded city. Duluth was perfect for us. I would put Duluth in the same list as Asheville, North Carolina; Burlington, Vermont; and Ithaca, New York. It’s a city that’s the right size but really unique,” says Hankey.

“Duluth is 80,000 people, which is big enough to have a busy Level II trauma center with all the challenges I want for my career. You see a nice mix of people from the city and people from the country, especially those who work in the timber and mining industries. You see a great cross-section of people,” says Hankey, who works in the emergency room at St. Luke’s Hospital, a 267-bed facility.

Schultz agrees, saying, “I have a really wide scope of practice. I work in Two Harbors, Minnesota. I have a rural family practice, both inpatient and outpatient, that affords me a lot of variety. I like the huge variety of practice. It’s a wonderful patient population as well. They’re really grounded, down-to-earth people. You get a lot of interesting pathology and pleasant people overall.”

Schultz’s practice is in a more rural area, but the commute is easy. And Duluth is a comfortable place to live. Hankey and Schultz just closed on their first home in Duluth, a six-bedroom Victorian house. Hankey says this is small by Duluth standards. Other houses in their neighborhood have up to 14 bedrooms.

Hankey shares an interesting bit of Duluth trivia: “At the turn of the 20th century, Duluth had more millionaires per capita than any city on earth.” Schultz adds, “It has a lot of beautiful Victorian architecture. The homes and neighborhoods in Duluth are just beautiful.”

Duluth, MN

Duluth, Minnesota

Meghan Anderson, a physician recruiter for St. Luke’s Health Care, says, “As far as the city goes, there is definitely a personality type that is attracted to Duluth. There is a big outdoorsy community. Of course, we have hunting and fishing and things you would picture for north Minnesota, but we also have a big running scene, a mountain biking scene and a big hiking scene. People who live here like to be outdoors and be active. They’re hiking and camping even in the winter. People do it all year long.”

Schultz says, “Once you set foot in Duluth, you realize it’s a special place. It’s worth the winter. Something people say is, ‘The cold seals in the freshness.’”

“In 2014, we were ranked the No. 1 outside city by Outside magazine. That really speaks to the lifestyle and to the recognition of the fact that there’s a diversity of outdoor offerings,” says Anna Tanski, president of Visit Duluth. “It’s not just skiing. People take in all that Lake Superior has to offer.” She says that paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking tend to be the most popular water sports. She also says that Lake Superior influences the culture beyond recreation activities.

“I’m a lifelong resident here, and our life is centered around Lake Superior,” says Tanski. “It is focused on the outdoors. It’s ingrained in part of our culture, and it creates an active community.”

While Duluth has a tight-knit population of 86,000, the city’s role as a health care hub draws a much larger patient population from surrounding areas. Anderson says that figure is closer to 450,000, explaining, “People drive a long way to get their health care. If you look at where we are on the map, we are on the tip of Lake Superior, so there’s not much between here and the Canadian border. We see a lot of patients from Wisconsin and from the upper area of Michigan.”

To serve this diverse group, St. Luke’s Hospital stays current with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. “The most notable thing is that we just completed an expansion to our surgery center,” says Anderson. “We just built a bunch of ORs. We also built a hybrid operating room. That just opened in August of 2015. Everything that the physician uses, everything comes down from the ceiling; there’s nothing on the floor. We have a da Vinci robot, and a dedicated operating room for the da Vinci robot. We also have dedicated ORs for open heart surgery and neurosurgery.”

Hankey says another advantage to working at St. Luke’s is the friendliness of the hospital staff. “Duluth is the classic ‘Minnesota nice.’ This is the most pleasant, professional staff I’ve ever been lucky enough to work with. The people make Duluth a great place.”

St. Luke’s Health Care System also has primary care clinics throughout the region, including the one in Two Harbors where Schultz works.

Essentia Health is another of Duluth’s major health care players.

“Physicians are vey much attracted to Essentia Health,” says Kris Olson, vice president of physician and professional services. “We are a physician-led organization, so there’s a really strong focus on keeping the patient and the family a priority.”

More than 800 physicians—and 13,000 total employees—help Essentia address the changing needs of health care through 68 clinics and 15 hospitals throughout the Upper Midwest.

“If you’re a high-end specialist, you can participate in the architecture of that program and have a direct say in what takes place,” Olson says. “You’ll be involved in the programming, the operations, and the understanding of what we do.”

In Duluth, it’s possible to find a successful work/life balance.

“It’s a really neat, four-season, multifaceted location,” Olson says. “You get the opportunity to work and play in the same place. …It’s fun to recruit to Duluth. It’s really the icing on the cake.”

 

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Tacoma, Washington

If you’re in Tacoma, you might overhear someone ask, “Is the mountain out today?” in reference to Mount Rainier, a local landmark sometimes hidden on overcast mornings. On clear and cloudy days alike, the mountain embodies the area’s outdoor culture. No wonder runners, hikers and nature enthusiasts adore this northwest Pacific town.

Live & Practice | Summer 2016

 

Rebecca Whitesell, M.D., has seen much of the U.S. “My dad worked for the National Parks Service when I was growing up, and we moved all over the place,” Whitesell explains. Now a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Mary Bridge Children’s Health Center (operated by MultiCare Health System), she attended high school in Texas and stayed in the state to attend Texas Christian University, where she majored in pre-med.

Her decision to study medicine stemmed from personal experience. She explains, “When I was young, I was a pretty serious dancer. Unfortunately, I also had several injuries. I had an orthopedic surgeon that I really liked. I thought what he did was really cool. That’s how I got truly interested in medicine.”

Rebecca Whitesell MD

“I can look at Mount Rainier right outside of our operating room,” says Rebecca Whitesell, M.D., who moved to Tacoma after completing fellowships in Atlanta.

She earned a master’s of public health at the University of North Texas before heading to medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Whitesell then stayed in the South for her residency at the University of Alabama and completed fellowships in Atlanta.

When she started interviewing for jobs, she wanted a new experience. “I interviewed and immediately fell in love with the people in Tacoma. It was really the right time for me, coming out of residency. I liked the setting, and I was very drawn to what I’d be doing and who I would be working with.”

She also liked the surroundings. “I can look at Mount Rainier right outside of our operating room,” Whitesell raves. And according to Matt Wakefield of Travel Tacoma + Pierce Country, the mountain is a big part of the Tacoma experience for everybody who visits.

“When you come to the area, if you’re flying in, you’ll see Mount Rainier,” he says. “It’s iconic. It’s the tallest mountain in the contiguous 48 states. You can see it from Seattle. Whenever the clouds part even a little bit, the mountain is front and center. A phrase people say is, ‘Oh, is the mountain out today?’ It means, ‘Did the clouds part enough?’ When you see it, it looks magnificent.”

Wakefield says the mountain provides plenty of space for recreation. “There are 130 hiking trails on the mountain. There is snowshoeing in the winter. It was named the No. 1 place in the country to view wildflowers.”

Another popular Tacoma destination for outdoor activities is Five Mile Drive. Says Wakefield: “It’s this five-mile stretch of roads with views of the Puget Sound. On the weekends, it’s closed until early afternoon so people can go running. There are lots of people here who are really into the outdoors and fitness, and we have an infrastructure that supports them in that.”

It makes sense that the Tacoma population is health-conscious. After all, health care companies are major area employers. Amber Bishop, a recruiter for MultiCare Health System, says, “MultiCare is a not-for-profit organization with more than 11,000 employees. The employee population is spread through two counties, staffing 120 sites of care.” MultiCare has five hospitals, each of which uses da Vinci robots. A sixth hospital is under construction, and MultiCare also operates the MultiCare Institute for Research & Innovation in Tacoma.

One benefit of working for MultiCare Health System is that their processes take full advantage of electronic patient records. MultiCare was an early adopter. The organization started using electronic patient records for their outpatient clinics in the late 1990s.

Naturally, the size and growth of the organization affect their recruiting efforts. “At any given time, we probably have more than 100 searches open, and that includes primary and specialty care,” says Bishop. “Right now, urgent care is a big focus.”

Bishop says there are many benefits to working for a larger health system. “Because we employ so many different providers, they have a built-in network to refer their patients to. Any specialty you can think of, we have in our system.”

That includes Whitesell’s specialty. “In medical school, everyone always says, ‘I’m going to be a cardiologist,’ or, ‘I’m going to do internal medicine.’ They made up their minds. I knew I was interested in orthopedics, but I went through medical school pretty open-minded. When I did my third-year rotation in surgery, I fell in love with surgery. When I did my first surgery in orthopedics, I was like, ‘I’m never doing anything else ever again.’”

It’s clear that Whitesell’s work isn’t just a paycheck for her. She says, “There’s something about taking care of kids that’s infectious in a good way! There’s an element of taking care of a kid and taking care of their parents. You take care of them in different ways.”

And when she’s not taking care of families, Whitesell enjoys taking care of her 10-month-old chocolate lab. She and her puppy go for walks and occasionally go running together.

“I really love all the outdoor activities,” says Whitesell. She also appreciates Tacoma’s versatility and overall feel. “It’s a big enough place that you can have anything you want living in a city,” she says “You’re close enough to Seattle, but Tacoma doesn’t feel like the suburbs. You’re living in its own place.”

 

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Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Summer in Portsmouth means locals and tourists don their sunglasses and enjoy the coastal town’s wealth of activities: swimming, kayaking, bicycling, running and enjoying seafood (practically a sport in and of itself). And as locals will tell you, the outdoor activities aren’t limited to summer. Admittedly, however, most people take a break from swimming in the winter.

Live & Practice | Summer 2016

 

Gareth Davies, M.D., didn’t need to be sold on Portsmouth. He had spent time in New Hampshire and already knew he loved its New England feel, so when he got the chance to move back after his residency, he didn’t think twice.

“I am originally from Pennsylvania, but I went to Middlebury College in Vermont. In college, I knew I liked biology—from microbiology to organism-type biology. The year 2000 I was a freshman there, and that was the first year that neuroscience was offered as a major. I noticed that every course that I signed up for was one of the neuroscience courses.” Naturally, Davies declared a neuroscience major.

“I knew I wanted to go to medical school. I made that decision in high school actually,” says Davies. And at Dartmouth Medical School, Davies felt right at home. “I fell in love with New Hampshire.”

As Davies neared the end of his residency at Penn State University, he felt a pull to return to New Hampshire.

Gareth Davies

Already familiar with New England, Gareth Davies, M.D., was drawn to New Hampshire after residency at Penn State. He’s now a neurosurgeon at Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

“I was thinking about where I would like to settle. I started looking again at coastal New England. I always loved the coast. I was looking for a vibrant small town with a young population, like Portland or Portsmouth or the Cape. From there, I started looking at what practices were hiring. One of my mentors from my residency had done his residency with one of the neurosurgeons at Coastal New Hampshire Neurosurgeons.”

Davies liked what he saw there. He says, “I was immediately very impressed by their neurosurgery practice.” So he accepted a neurosurgeon position with the group, which is operated by Portsmouth Regional Hospital, part of HCA.

Dean Carucci, CEO of Portsmouth Regional Hospital, says, “Portsmouth Regional Hospital is a leading provider of cardiovascular surgery as well as neurosurgery.” The hospital has 209 beds and operates a Level II trauma center. It stays up to date with state-of-the-art equipment. Carucci says, “Portsmouth has dedicated cardiovascular operating rooms as well as a hybrid room. In addition, we have three distinct catheterization labs and an interventional radiology suite. The facility has also invested in high-end imaging including a 3-T MRI, 3-D mammography, 3-D echo, EBUS [endobronchial ultrasound] and a host of others.” Portsmouth Regional Hospital also operates outpatient facilities in the area.

State-of-the-art operating rooms are a plus for Davies, who has felt drawn to surgery since the beginning of his career. “I’ve always leaned more toward surgery because I enjoy having a defined problem and being able to go in and fix it. I like when I can respond and fix something structural.”

When Davies isn’t in the OR, he’s outside enjoying Portsmouth. “I fell in love with Portsmouth as a town. It’s very outdoor-oriented. It seems most people like to run, hike and sail.”

Portsmouth residents as a whole tend to enjoy the outdoors and exercise avidly, according to Valerie Rochon, interim president and tourism director of the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a lifestyle choice to live here and be on the seacoast. It’s a quality-of-life choice. You’re making the decision to have a much higher quality of life.”

Rochon recommends visiting the beaches, trying out Portsmouth Kayak Adventures, enjoying the boardwalk or even sailing on a replica of a 16th-century barge. “We are so involved with the water,” she says. She recommends families with kids who want to get even closer to marine life visit the Blue Ocean Society, explaining, “It’s the organization within the Seacoast Science Center, which is the marine mammal rescue organization for all of New England.”

If this lifestyle sounds appealing, you should know that Portsmouth Regional Hospital is hiring. Carucci says: “We are currently recruiting heavily for vascular surgeons, hospitalists, psychiatric physicians and primary care, both internal medicine and family practice.”

Pleasant surroundings aren’t the only perks of the workplace. Davies says other hospital employees are one of the best parts of his job. “Across the board—from management to the other physicians and nurses and techs—people are very respectful. Because people are so respectful, it’s a pleasant place to work. Everyone is very proud of the community and very focused on providing top-level care for the community. People get close to their patients.”

Davies considers Portsmouth the perfect size. He says it offers just the right amount of amenities for doctors who have busy schedules.

“When I was thinking about where I wanted to live, the important thing for me was looking at what was offered in the area and what would it actually be like to live there. There’s a tendency to think that there’s so much more to do in a big city. In the daily life of the average physician, you tend to work long hours, and you work late regularly. I don’t know that you necessarily need access to the thousands of restaurants in a big city.”

Davies is engaged, and he has a dog. What could be better than taking your dog for a walk on the boardwalk, enjoying the sun and breathing in the sea air? In Portsmouth, it isn’t a vacation. It’s your life.

 

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Galveston, Texas

If you ever dreamed of combining a challenging medical career with a beach lifestyle, consider working in Galveston. This historic beach town is a short commute from a 600-bed hospital with a brand-new brain and spine institute. And to sweeten the deal, Texas has no state income tax.

Live & Practice | Summer 2016

 

When Hashem Shaltoni, M.D., moved to Houston in 1999, he thought he would only be in the area for a year. He had graduated from medical school in Lahore, Pakistan, where he expressed an interest in neurology early on. “In medical school, I realized I was spending more time to really understand neurology than my peers. I found that I was unique. I understood it better. I stood up many times and asked neurology questions in class.” When Shaltoni’s father had a silent stroke, it sparked Shaltoni’s specific interest in stroke training and interventional neurology.

Shaltoni moved to the U.S. and did a preliminary residency in internal medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. “Our agreement was: ‘We will check you out, and you check us out.’ I thought it would be just one year in Houston. But in the first few months, I was really impressed by the neurology chairman.” At the end of his internship, Shaltoni was accepted for a residency in neurology at the University of Texas.

“I got into UT because they liked me, and I thought it was a cool city. But I still felt like I lived in Houston temporarily because I was going to do my fellowship somewhere else.”

But by the time he needed to choose a location for his fellowship, Shaltoni felt so connected to the Houston area that he wanted to stay. “I really liked the city. It’s large. It’s handsome. It has great diversity. And I got married.”

So Shaltoni stayed for two fellowships: one in neurology and one in vascular neurology. Today, Shaltoni works for Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, part of HCA. Clear Lake is located between Houston the Galveston Bay shoreline.

Shaltoni uses his education to serve his community. In fact, he established Clear Lake’s Brain & Spine Institute to offer advanced care to patients living near the coast. “Our goal is to provide neurology and neurosurgery care to the community,” he says. “I’ve recruited three new neurosurgeons, and I’m recruiting for two more neuroscientists. Now, highly complicated cases no longer need to be transferred to the medical center in downtown Houston.”

Galveston TX

Galveston, Texas

Michael Herrera, a physician recruiter for HCA, says of the center: “It is our flagship hospital. It has 586 beds. It is located between the downtown Houston area and Galveston, Texas. For those interested in working here, it’s in an ideal place in terms of being close to the city and being close to the beach.”

The town itself is also pretty ideal. Leah Cast, public relations manager for the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, says, “Galveston is unlike any other place. People take pride in Galveston. It’s a mix of having a beautiful tropical atmosphere with that southern charm and southern hospitality. People definitely feel at home.”

Cast says Galveston and the outlying areas have a “huge outdoor culture.” She raves, “It’s this small island that is tropical but also very historic. We have 32 miles of beaches. The island is 32 miles long but only two and a half miles wide. When you drive to work in the morning, you can see the sun rise over the Gulf of Mexico.”

But the island life isn’t isolated. With a population of 50,000, Galveston boasts a bustling downtown. Residents enjoy boutique shopping, outdoor musical performances and excellent restaurants with coastal fare. Cast adds, “We have a beautiful historic downtown. It’s a gorgeous place and at the center of a lot of outdoor special events and activities. Top chefs move to Galveston. We have a great food scene that is really high quality compared to what you’d think of for a beach town.”

Another unexpected benefit of this coastal town is its job opportunities. Galveston’s proximity to Houston and several midsize towns between the two cities provide a patient population large enough to keep medical professionals busy.

“HCA has 160 hospitals in 20 states. We have a pretty big presence in the greater Houston area. We have 10 hospitals in the greater Houston area and several more in south Texas,” says Herrera, adding that there are several draws for physicians contemplating a move to Texas. “We seem to attract a lot of attention from physicians who are looking for a warmer climate, and we have no state income tax. Real estate properties are a good value here. You factor all those in, and it’s a great place to live and work.”

Shaltoni and his wife are optimistic about raising their son, who is now 18 months old, in the coastal Texas area. “From my experience, the schools are fantastic,” Shaltoni says. “I started late to have a family, so I have friends who have kids who are 8 or 9 or 12. I see them and the way they’re raised. Everybody is happy.”

Shaltoni’s son will start day care soon, and Shaltoni says he is lucky to have a wife who understands how Shaltoni’s work is not just a job but also a calling. “I went to school for a long, long time. My dad was always like, ‘When are you finishing school?’ I was dedicated to really learning what I was learning. Now, I feel blessed that I live in a country that has allowed me to make a difference.”

 

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