When you think of Florida, the warm climate and alligators tend to come to mind. In Gainesville, Florida, there is great local affection for the Gators—that is, the University of Florida’s athletics program—as well as the sunny weather that makes outdoor recreation, farmers markets and biking to work possible.
“I was born in Auburndale, Florida, between Orlando and Tampa. Most folks when I was growing up were Florida State, Miami or Gators fans,” says Ryan Nall, M.D. Nall attended the University of Florida, which he says “lays the groundwork for being a huge Gators fan.” Nall also completed medical school at the University of Florida, but left the area for his residency. “I did my residency at Beth Israel in Boston. I lived there for four years.” After a stretch of time away, Nall and his wife were eager to return to Florida and put down roots.
Now, Nall is a general internist with UF Health, the University of Florida health system. He and his wife have an 18-month-old baby and enjoy their community and friends in Gainesville.
“As a medical student, you see one side of Gainesville, centered around the university. Coming back, working here now, there is a strong community here of a lot of academic folks. People have their kids play together; it’s great.”
Nall is quick to cite his favorite thing about Gainesville. “It’s a nice college town that offers a small-town feel with the benefit of the culture provided by the university being here.” That, and the sports.
“I love the football games. A big focus of the town in the fall is football. It’s a lot of fun. I did medical school here and returned here after my residency. I loved cheering for the Gators as a medical student, and it’s been fun moving back here.” Nall says that the spirit around the Gators contributed to his dedication to the University of Florida medical community. “The sports colored my interest, and UF certainly is a great school and program. It’s a fun place to live and work and train.”
“The quality of life here is very high. Being a college town, the amenities we have are not common for the region. If you look around, it’s a very rural area except for Gainesville. We bring in people from all over the world for the university,” says John Pricher, executive director of Visit Gainesville.
“In the county, there are 248,000 people. The majority of those people are in Gainesville proper. The schools are astounding. The high schools have a magnet program. There are two different honors programs,” says Pricher. “Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa are all within two hours. If you want to visit those places, it’s easy.” Pricher says that part of Gainesville’s allure is its affordability. “Compared to those areas [Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa], we definitely have a lower cost of living. Even with the university taking so much land off the tax rolls, it’s still really affordable to live here.”
Pricher is also a University of Florida alumnus. “I came to school here and never left. I really like the pace of life. It’s a small southern town when you get down to it. People are friendly, and everything flows like the rivers and the springs in the area. It’s a steady nice pace, and things get done when they get done. No one is in too much of a hurry.”
Of course, a career with UF Health isn’t much like a lazy river. Says Arman Razavipour, a physician recruiter for the University of Florida College of Medicine, “UF Health is the Southeast’s most comprehensive academic medical center, and the only one in the U.S. with six health colleges and eight research institutes on a single contiguous campus.”
“There are 996 licensed beds among the five Gainesville hospitals in the UF Health system,” says Razavipour. “We’re building two new hospitals in Gainesville, a $415 million project, to meet the increasing demand for care. The UF Health Heart & Vascular Hospital and the UF Health Neuromedicine Hospital will deliver concentrated care to patients with some of the most complex health conditions.”
Razavipour says that he has been actively recruiting physicians and researchers across a wide spectrum of specializations, including oncology, diabetes, genetics, cardiology, neuromedicine, orthopedics and transplantation.
Another employer of physicians in Gainesville is North Florida Regional Medical Center, operated by HCA North Florida. North Florida Regional Medical Center is an acute care center with 445 licensed beds.
Outside of work, physicians in Gainesville have plenty of entertainment options beyond the stadium. “We have such a wealth of nature-based activities, whether you want to ride horses or snorkel in one of the cold water springs,” says Pricher.
Razavipour echoes this: “Gainesville is known for its natural beauty and many springs, lakes and rivers. The climate encourages outdoor activities and residents enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, bicycling and camping.”
Nall says that commuting to work by bike is common in Gainesville and that “they are in the process of completing a big bike trail.” Since 2013, the Florida Department of Transportation has been at work on an extensive trail construction project that will both create new paths for walking and biking within the UF campus and connect these bike paths with existing ones off-campus.
Nall also enjoys the dining and arts scene in Gainesville. “There is a growing food and restaurant scene with local chefs that are creating some wonderful places to dine. There is a microbrewery group that is developing; it will be the third microbrewery in the area. There is a wonderful farmers market downtown. [On] Wednesday nights there is a farmers market/art market. It’s a great place to go and enjoy everything that’s made in the area. Gainesville is often viewed as this small college town, but there is so much more happening in terms of art and public works, making it a better place to live and work.”
Nall says that his favorite part of the job is taking care of the patients and engaging with the people of Gainesville. “Everybody is unique and brings their own story, which is what makes this job so interesting and exciting. Now that I have been here for three years, you begin to connect with people as you get to know them over time. It’s invigorating.”