Cities for physician families

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Haley Cahill-Teubert

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If your family loves fun in the sun on the sandy beaches of a small town, consider these cities for physician families: Outer Banks, North Carolina or Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. If you want endless outdoor activities in a charming Midwest setting, check out Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. And if you prefer to live somewhere with more than 300 days of sunshine per year with endless activities and events, check out Chandler, Arizona.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

FAMILIES WHO CRAVE TIME TOGETHER IN A warm, beach location with a small-town feel will love life in the Outer Banks.

The Outer Banks are a chain of peninsulas and barrier islands that span more than 100 miles down North Carolina’s coast, starting at the Virginia border. The area is split into three regions: The Northern Beaches, Roanoke Island and Hatteras Island. The Northern Beaches include Carova, Corolla, Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head. Roanoke Island is made up of Manteo and Wanchese. Hatteras Island includes Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras.

All of these beach towns’ populations range from 200 to more than 7,000 residents. If you’re new to the area, you may not know when you leave one town and cross into the next. Locals can distinguish each town and region of the Outer Banks, as every town has its own personality and offerings.

You’ll find the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education and the Whalehead Club in Corolla, plus the famous wild horses. Head to Duck for its waterfront shopping, sound side boardwalk and Duck Jazz Festival. At Southern Shores, you can enjoy many walking and cycling paths. Nags Head has the Jockey’s Ridge State Park, historic and art districts, charter fishing, golf and the Bodie Island Lighthouse. Manteo is known for its bed and breakfasts, the Elizabethan Gardens and North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. Rodanthe, Salvo, Buxton and Waves are great for kiteboarding, windsurfing, camping and are close to the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge.

The beach itself has a lot to offer, but there is no shortage of other great year-round activities and events. There are regular farmers’ markets, 5k races, summer concert series…the list goes on and on

For larger city amenities and airports, you can reach Norfolk, Virginia, in about an hour and a half or Richmond, Virginia, in three, depending on the part of the Outer Banks you are traveling from.

Whatever it is your family enjoys—kayaking, fishing, surfing, golfing, sunbathing, cycling, festivals, concerts, shopping—you’ll find it in one of the picturesque beach towns in the Outer Banks.

While the Outer Banks span more than 100 miles, there is a strong sense of community and a small-town feel.

“Whether I go to the gym, grocery store, beach, or any restaurant, I’m going to see a co- worker, a patient, a friend, even my boss,” says John Sanchez, D.O., the medical director for Outer Banks Health Urgent Care—Nags Head.

“It’s a daily event, and yes, usually the conversation gets around to talking medical, but that’s my life on the Outer Banks!”

Originally from Maryland, Sanchez initially went to college with dreams of becoming a musician.

“Never did I ever imagine becoming a physician,” Sanchez says. “I followed an intense path and aspired to be a professional trumpet player. As it turns out, theanalytic brain of musicians is not dissimilar to that of physicians. So musician to physician, what can I say?”

Sanchez completed medical school at Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and his residency at Dallas Southwest Medical Center. He and his wife moved to the Outer Banks 20 years ago and have no plans of leaving.

“There’s always something good going on here,” Sanchez says. “The outdoor opportunities are epic. Aside from the obvious beach/ocean-related adventures, few are aware of the vast wildlife out here. Perfect example: I went freshwater—yes, I said freshwater—fishing the other day. Aside from the solitude of being the only one on the water in my kayak, I caught fish, saw turtles, a snake, an otter, a bobcat and a bear.”

Sanchez says the Outer Banks has great gyms for fitness lovers as well as a robust music scene.

“The local music scene is pretty diverse,” he says. “Although just a hobby now, I still play jazz gigs during the tourist season. Local musicians letting me sit in on trumpet? Now that’s cool!”

Outer Banks Health consists of a 19-bed community hospital, six primary care practices, six specialty care practices, two urgent care centers, an outpatient rehabilitation therapy center and a new state-of-the-art cancer center. Outer Banks Health partners with ECU Health and Chesapeake Regional Healthcare.

In addition to his full-time role, Sanchez also serves as medical director at several other facilities, including the free clinic, a holistic IV infusion center as well as a drug and alcohol treatment center. Notably, Sanchez was also the 2022 recipient of the Physician of the Year Award at the Outer Banks Health Hospital.

Beyond these opportunities, he also enjoys that the size of the health system allows him to know every doctor on a first-name basis and have more nimbleness in his practice.

“Working at a small hospital gives me the opportunity to do more for my patients than primary care physicians do in metropolitan areas,” Sanchez says. “Also impressive is that we are part of two large hospital systems, ECU Health — associated with the Brody School of Medicine — and Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, so we have the resources to provide excellent care to our locals and visitors.”

Evidence of the top-notch care are the accredited breast care and cancer care programs. The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers of the American College of Surgeons awarded Accredited status to Outer Banks Health Breast Care Program. Out of more than 1,300 similarly sized hospitals, Outer Banks Health is the only one in the United States to earn this designation. This year, the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer again granted a three-year accreditation for the Outer Banks Health Cancer Program.

Additionally, Outer Banks Health Hospital recently received the American Heart Association’s Get with the Guidelines–Stroke Silver Plus Award for stroke and type 2 diabetes.

For physicians looking to practice in a high-quality, compassionate health system with strong relationships between colleagues and patients, while soaking in abeachfront town bursting with family-friendly activities and events, consider the Outer Banks.

Outer Banks Health is currently recruiting for oncology, cardiology, OB/GYN and pediatric hospitalists.

Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

FAMILIES WHO CHERISH EXPLORING THE GREAT outdoors while enjoying the amenities and comforts of a cozy Midwest town will love life in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Chippewa Falls has earned national acclaim for being among the best small cities to live in the United States.

Located in the northwestern part of the state, Chippewa Falls is surrounded by lush forests and rolling hills, making it perfect for your next outdoor adventure. Head to Lake Wissota — the largest lake in the county — or Brunet Island State Park for year-round activities like paddleboarding, camping, ice fishing, snowmobiling, horseback riding, boating, tubing, hiking, bird watching, kayaking, sledding and more.

You can wind down from a long day of outdoor adventures at one of the town’s fantastic restaurants or breweries, ranging from upscale dining and cocktails to classic Midwest comfort food.

Chippewa Falls and its nearby towns also host a number of wonderful festivals and events throughout the year that people travel far and wide to attend. The Northern Wisconsin State Fair brings tons of fun, food and music to town every July. The Chippewa Falls Oktoberfest is two days packed with family- friendly games, food, music and beverages. Music lovers will appreciate a variety of events throughout the year.

There is plenty to do and experience in this charming small town, making it a great place to live, work and raise a family. Robert J. BULLWINKEL, M.D., MPH and Briana L. Kirt, M.D., are two physicians doing just that.

Bullwinkel, a pediatrics physician, and Kirt, a family medicine physician, are married and raising their three children in Chippewa Falls. The couple met in medical school at Ros University School of Medicine. They completed the last part of medical school together in New York before getting matched together in Akron, Ohio. Following residency, Bullwinkel and Kirt wanted to live in a rural, Midwest town, which landed them in Chippewa Falls, where they have resided for the last 11 years. Today, they both practice within the Marshfield Clinic Health System.

“I grew up in various parts of the country, and my parents always lived and worked in urban or suburban areas in big cities like Houston and Pittsburgh. It always seemed so hectic to me,” Bullwinkel says. “They always had big commutes, so part of me has always wanted to be in a place that wasn’t as hectic.”

While shorter commutes are a great quality, Kirt says the lower cost of living made Chippewa Falls extremely attractive as well. The couple enjoys being outdoors and wanted to raise children in a town where they could appreciate nature.

“We primarily hike,” she says. “We got some snowshoes for the winter. And we’re right by the lake, so we can swim in the summer, and we actually enjoy walking across the lake in the winter.”

Chippewa Falls is about 20 minutes from the bustling area of Eau Claire, which also offers many family-friendly things to do. For even more amenities, Minneapolis is less than a two-hour drive away.

Practicing in an environment supportive of family life was important, too, which they said they found at Marshfield Clinic Health System.

Marshfield Clinic Health System is an integrated health system serving Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It has more than 12,000 employees, which includes over 1,600 physicians, comprising of more than 170 specialties and subspecialties. Within the system of care are more than 60 Marshfield Clinic locations and 11 hospitals.

Marshfield Clinic operates as a charitable corporation with all assets in a charitable trust. It is one of just a few large independent, nonprofit medical clinics in the U.S. The mission is to enrich lives through accessible, affordable and compassionate health care.

“There’s been a lot of support here for me to practice the way I want to practice and to practice with the populations that I want to practice with,” Kirt says. “I think I would probably have a hard time finding a similar experience in other health systems.”

Marshfield Clinic Health System in Chippewa Falls is currently recruiting for pediatrics, primary care, psychiatry and pulmonology.

Chandler, Arizona

ADVENTURE, ARTS, OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES, athletic events—Chandler, Arizona, has it all. Located about 30 minutes southeast of Phoenix and about 25 minutes south of Scottsdale, Chandler has all the great amenities of a metropolitan area minus the traffic and over-the-top costs of living.

Veterans Oasis Park, a certified wildlife habitat, sits on more than 110 acres and offers 4.5 miles of trails for walking, biking and bird watching. Within the park is the Chandler Nature Center, which has exhibits and other learning opportunities for adults and kids alike

The Chandler area has many other hiking and biking trails as well, including more than 300 miles of paved paths and trails.

These activities just scratch the surface of what Chandler has to offer as a resident. The professional opportunities are vast, as well.

Banner Health, one of the country’s largest non-profit health systems, is headquartered in Arizona and features locations in Chandler. Banner’s 50,000 employees serve in six states, and innovation is at the heart of its mission.

Also in Chandler is Chandler Regional Medical Center, which began as a small community hospital in 1961 and today is a Level I trauma center. The hospital is part of Dignity Health, which recently joined with Catholic Health Initiatives to create CommonSpirit Health, a nonprofit Catholic health system with more than 700 care sites, 142 hospitals, 150,000 employees and 25,000 physicians and clinicians.

Chandler Regional also has several residency programs, in which Allan Markus, M.D., FACP, has had significant involvement.

Markus grew up on the East Coast, where he completed college and medical school. Following school, he was recruited to the Southwest, where he served as associate program director at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center Internal Medicine Residency program before becoming the Director of Arizona State University Health Services. Continuing his work in graduate medical education, Markus then became the founding internal medicine program director at HonorHealth–Thompson Peak Medical Center. Soon after, Chandler Regional approached Markus about their plans for a residency program.

Markus is now an internal medicine physician and the founding program director for the internal medicine residency program at Chandler Regional. He is passionate about training the next generation of physicians because of their excitement for making a difference in the world and their patients’ lives. He also finds it rewarding when those trainees want to then become faculty for the residency programs.

Markus is grateful to have had the opportunity to create not one, but two residency programs over the course of his career. He is also proud to have been elected to serve as the governor for the Arizona chapter of the American College of Physicians.

Markus says Chandler and nearby Gilbert have developed vibrant food scenes with a variety of great restaurants. As a baseball enthusiast, Markus also loves cheering on the Diamondbacks and attending Major League Baseball spring training in nearby Phoenix.

“I love being able to have all the big city amenities without the traffic and congestion of places like L.A. or New York,” he says. “It is just a beautiful place to live out here.”

Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

FAMILIES WHO WANT TO LIVE IN A SMALL TOWN with four seasons, plus easy access to metropolitan cities, beaches and kid-friendly activities areas will love Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey.

One of the most notable attractions in the town is Storybook Land, a fantastic amusement park that attracts people from all over the country. The rides and themed attractions make for a perfect day of family fun. For more entertainment, head to the nearby Playland’s Castaway Cove in Ocean City for rides, go-karts, mini golf and other kid-friendly activities. While you’re there, enjoy a bike ride or stroll along the Jersey Shore Boardwalk and grab a bite to eat at one of the many oceanside restaurants.

There are several beautiful beaches within 20 minutes that offer boating, surfing, sunbathing, paddleboarding, parasailing and more for a fun day in the sun.

Families who like to adventure in the great outdoors will enjoy exploring the Egg Harbor Township Nature Reserve–a 220-acre area with six miles of scenic hiking trails, a lake for kayaking and fishing, an arboretum and more.

Egg Harbor Township is conveniently located in a quiet area with a small-town feel, but you can be in a larger city within just a few hours. That perfect balance is one of the things Jersey native Brian Isaacson, M.D., loves about living and practicing there.

“It’s a great place to live because it’s kind of like the small town rural feel to it, but there’s so many different activities around for fun things to do,” Isaacson says. “There’s all kinds of entertainment in Atlantic City, from national comedians, music acts and various casinos — tons of entertainment. Philadelphia’s less than an hour. New York is not far away either.”

Isaacson grew up in the area, but moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California. He then moved back to New Jersey for medical school at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and completed his residency training in New Orleans at Tulane University. He stayed in Louisiana for several years before ultimately making his way back home to New Jersey, where he has been for the last 12 years.

Isaacson is a psychiatrist and the chairman for the department of psychiatry with AtlantiCare. AtlantiCare, based in Egg Harbor Township, is the region’s largest integrated health care organization with more than 5,500 employees and 900 physicians and providers. There are more than 90 locations throughout five counties in New Jersey.

Among AtlantiCare’s many great health care services, Isaacson says they have a very robust spectrum of psychiatric services. With 25 psychiatrists on the team, including child psychiatrists, they are able to provide high-quality care to the community and offer services not widely found across the U.S.

“We have one of the few dedicated psychiatric emergency rooms in the country,” Isaacson says. “We have an 11-bed unit so patients don’t have to board in the emergency rooms. It’s really more of a collaborative care model where the psychiatrist takes over the care once they’re medically cleared and once the ER doctors make sure there’s no acute medical issue that’s occurring, so that’s a great program.”

Also available is an urgent care for psychiatry, partial day programs, intensive outpatient programs, high- touch care programs for severely ill patients, adult and child outpatient care. Additionally, Isaacson says they recently acquired John Brooks Recovery Center, a 115-bed substance abuse facility.

AtlantiCare has been a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award winner and was the 105th hospital in the nation to attain the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet designation in 2004 and earned redesignation in 2008, 2013, 2018 and 2023. AtlantiCare has also been chosen as one of Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work.

Heather Gavitt, AtlantiCare provider recruiter, says AtlantiCare is a great place to work. People feel comfortable working there because they treat one another with a great deal of kindness and respect, and prioritize transparency and communication. Having senior leaders who are easily accessible and down to earth makes a difference as well.

“People who are from here tend to stay- and if they leave, they come back,” Gavotte says. “Our hospitals have generations of good people. We have people who work for AtlantiCare who were born at our hospital.”

Atlanticare is currently recruiting for primary care and urgent care.

 

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Haley Cahill-Teubert

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