Archive for Thursday, November 1, 2001

Some area physicians prefer smaller practices

November 1, 2001

Maybe being a doctor isn't what it looks like on television after all.

According to a local recruiter and a state medical organization, area doctors don't mind if their practice is more "Dr. Quinn" than "ER."

"Some of the doctors have grown up in small communities and like the idea," said Charlene Droste, a physician liaison for LMH. "Also, a lot of students who have gone to KU have a fondness for this area and they'll contact us. Sometimes it's people who've moved away for a while and want to come home because their parents are older now."

That's good news for Eudora, since LMH is recruiting a physician to replace Stephen Nolker. Although several physicians have expressed interest, Droste said the most recent prospect was a doctor who grew up in a small western Missouri community, as did his wife, and the couple is looking to move back into a similar environment. The hiring decision will be up to Eudora physician Kenneth Holladay, she said.

Recruiting physicians involves Droste attending KU Med Centers' rural health opportunities seminars and advertising positions through a newsletter as well as prospects approaching her.

While some physicians seek out smaller communities, some may also have qualms about practicing in rural areas.

"Others are concerned about being the only doctor in town and not having anyone to consult with," Droste said. "One of the things Eudora offers is that there's a big medical staff that's affiliated with the hospital. The person really isn't out in the boonies."

Sandwiched on the K-10 corridor between Lawrence and Kansas City, Eudora isn't really a rural community anyway, said Allison Peterson, director of communications and membership for the Kansas Medical Association.

"I think towns like Eudora and De Soto are a little less rural than places like Garden City and Liberal," Peterson said.

But size and location don't limit what cities may have to offer.

"Even when you look at Hays, they have a strong medical community," she said. "They have a great service area. Even the smaller communities have in some situations been able to create a community of both primary care and specialized care and provide that to a wider range of people."

Although Kansas seems to have a good balance of family physicians and specialists, Peterson said doctors tend to flock to where people are.

"In our state you'll find a concentration in the urban areas, but our state is mostly rural," she said.

Still, she's proud to say that the organization's membership covers small town family physicians as well as urban specialists. Two of the past presidents, a husband and wife, practice in Hanover.

Having just one medical program in the state Kansas University Medical Center isn't all that unusual, Peterson said. In fact, the school works in favor of small Kansas communities. Physicians coming out of KU's medical program are required to participate in a program where they go out into the state and spend time with a physician practicing rural medicine.

"It gives them a really unique experience," Peterson said. "A lot of docs who stay in Kansas say they stayed because of those experiences."

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