If you have a family or are looking to start one, you might want to look into these family friendly cities for physicians.
If you have a family or are looking to start one, you might want to look into these family friendly cities for physicians.

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Family friendly cities – Winter 2023

Table of Contents

If you’re a physician with family — or you’re hoping to start one—your job hunt looks a little different. You aren’t just looking for a city you’ll enjoy. You’re looking for the right amenities, from schools and museums to outdoor activities and restaurants. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of ideal options of family friendly cities for physicians.

New Orleans, Louisiana, combines family-friendly offerings with Southern hospitality. Newton, Massachusetts, is a short subway ride from Boston and has endless offerings of its own. Olathe, Kansas, is a great Midwestern town to plant roots just outside of Kansas City, Missouri. And Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has all the amenities of a large city with all the comfort of a small town.

New Orleans, Louisana

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New Orleans, Louisiana, is more than its vibrant nightlife and legendary Mardi Gras. It’s a family-friendly city as well! Nestled in southeast Louisiana, New Orleans has a population of close to 400,000. That large population comes with plenty of things to do, see and experience.

EXPLORE THE FRENCH QUARTER THROUGH A narrated carriage ride. Or for more interactive fun, Carousel Gardens Amusement Park has rides and bumper cars. And Louisiana Children’s Museum teaches kid about nature, music, art, local geography and food production.

Speaking of food, New Orleans is known for its delicious Cajun and Creole cuisines. Sample local flavors and dishes like gumbo, shrimp and grits, and jambalaya. Since the city sits along the Mississippi River and near the Gulf of Mexico, water activities abound. Ride on river boat cruises, take airboat swamp tours or go kayaking.

For even more outdoor fun, hike, bike or walk the trails at Audubon Park, City Park or Bayou Sauvage Ridge Trail. And if you’re a sports fan, you can catch a Saints football game, a Pelicans basketball game or a Jesters soccer game. There is always something to do!

Born an hour outside New Orleans, Brian Galofaro, M.D., can attest to what a wonderful place it is to live and practice. After finishing residency at Louisiana State University, Galofaro stayed in the Pelican State. Today, he is raising kids and growing his career in his native southeastern Louisiana.

Galofaro practices family medicine at Our Lady of the Lake Northshore. Based outside of New Orleans, it’s part of the larger Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (FMOLHS). He is also the medical director of Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University’s physician assistant program.

FMOLHS has more than 10,000 full-time employees with 1,915 medical staff members in 10 hospitals and various clinics across Louisiana and Mississippi.

Our Lady of the Lake Northshore includes primary care and specialty clinics, surgical centers and hospitals in the Northshore area. It’s a short commute from New Orleans, just across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge. This makes it a desirable place of employment for physicians living in the city or on the outskirts.

Our Lady of the Angels Hospital, a FMOLHS facility on the Northshore, is a full-service acute care hospital in Bogalusa. They partner with LSU to provide an unopposed rural family medicine residency program.

Galofaro began practicing with FMOLHS in 2017. It’s one of the largest health systems in the area, and it’s also a faith-based organization. Having grown up Catholic, Galofaro says this is one reason he was attracted to FMOLHS. He enjoys the opportunities to pray before meetings and with patients. He also says the commitment to patient care makes FMOLHS a wonderful place to work.

“It’s a mission-based organization to provide health care to our community—especially those most in need. Everything we do, every decision is made with that mission in mind. Thus, the patient care always comes first,” says Galofaro. “Numbers and dollars aren’t the first thing we discuss when we make decisions. It’s: What can we do to provide better care to our patients? What tools can we give to our providers so they can achieve that mission and provide better care to patients?”

Galofaro says two other important qualities set FMOLHS apart. First, it’s a physician-led organization. Second, it offers a high degree of physician autonomy.

“Every decision that is made in this system—especially those that affect clinical care—are made with a physician in the room at the table,” he says. “Our system ceo is actually a physician.”

FMOLHS uses a dyad leadership model. Physicians and administrators partner to make decisions. Galofaro says physicians who want to make changes don’t have to work through big bureaucratic systems. They can make those alongside local leadership. That autonomy makes a huge difference.

Toni Stevens echoes Galofaro’s sentiments. As business development officer for FMOLHS, Stevens says its faith-based mission provides a distinctive culture. She also believes the schedule flexibility and practice design help FMOLHS stand out from other health systems.

But that’s not all. Stevens says FMOLHS physicians enjoy special benefits and opportunities.

“One of the things we did recently that really benefits the physicians coming on board and the ones we have in place currently is the addition of more time off forthem,” Stevens says. “We wanted to be really competitive with that, so we added five more—giving them 31 total.”

One other perk? New physicians at FMOLHS don’t have to sign a non-compete agreement. If they ever choose to pursue different opportunities, they’ll have that freedom. Stevens notes that many competing health systems require agreements that limit physicians’ choices.

Finally, Stevens says FMOLHS offers physicians room to grow. Whether you’re just coming out of residency or further along in your career, there are lots of leadership opportunities.

“We have a physician leadership academy to prepare physicians to be leaders within our organization,” Stevens explains. The yearlong program equips physicians with lessons on leadership and business. Physicians also have opportunities to join local and system- level committees.

Galofaro enjoys being both a clinician and a leader with FMOLHS. He also loves life in southeastern Louisiana. Outside of work, he enjoys hiking, swimming, fishing and being outdoors with his family. And the great food, museums, sports and festivities are also major perks of New Orleans.

Newton, Massachusetts

Newton, Massachusetts, is the perfect northeast city for families. Just 10 miles from Boston, this suburban community has easy access to urban amenities. There are countless things to do, restaurants to try and adventures to take.

NewtonKIDS WILL LOVE THE OBSTACLE courses, challenges and foam pits at Exxcel Gymnastics and Climbing. Or they can train like ninja warriors at Action Athletics. And the whole family will love Puzzle Break Newton Escape Room and Jackson Homestead and Museum.

Explore the city’s many hiking and walking trails at Webster Conservation Area, Upper Falls Greenway and Edmands Park. Kids as young as 3 years old will enjoy summer adventure camps, sports camps and wilderness survival camps. And in cooler months, many families enjoy skiing and other snowy activities at ski resorts in surrounding states.

Head to Boston to explore the Museum of Science, the Boston Children’s Museum, the New England Aquarium and the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. There’s also the LEGOLAND Discovery Center and Codzilla, a high- speed thrill boat ride. And sports lovers can cheer on any of the Boston area’s five professional sports teams.

But entertainment isn’t the only reason Newton is a great place to live and practice. Brenda Reed, senior physician recruitment and retention consultant at AtriusHealth, says physicians also love the community feel.

“Newton has around nine distinct neighborhoods with the ability to walk to amenities like restaurants,” Reed explains. “It’s much more of a neighborhood communitywhere you can really get to know your neighbors.”

Newton’s proximity to Boston opens career possibilities for physicians’ families. If another member of the household works in the city, it’s a short commute. There’s also easy access to Boston Logan International Airport for travel. And Reed says the nearby public schools are top-notch.

“There are amazing public schools,” Reed says. “Real estate is not cheap in major cities, but the trade-off for expensive neighborhoods is the really excellent public school systems.”

Housing and cost of living are important considerations in the job hunt. Marcus Tjia, M.D., a staff psychiatrist with Atrius, says Atrius stacks up well when it comes to pay.

“The compensation at Atrius is quite fair, if not generous,” Tjia says. “That plus the chance to do some good outpatient psychiatry work were reasons why I moved to Atrius Health.”

Tjia, a southern California native, moved to Boston for college at MIT. He’s remained on the East Coast ever since. He graduated from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, then did his psychiatric residency at Brown University and his medical psychiatry fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“Initially, I was leaning toward internal medicine, but I realized I enjoyed understanding and hearing people’s personal stories more than just the medical aspects of their care,” Tjia says. “Psychiatry fit that mold better than being a primary care doc. A lot of times we’re hearing things they’re not even telling their spouses or family in terms of the degree of their struggles. So there’s a level of trust that patients have with their behavioral health providers that’s probably different from other providers.”

Tjia joined Atrius in 2011 doing outpatient psychiatry work. He quickly realized how great the Atrius physician community was. He’s found his colleagues eager to collaborate on patient care.

“The highlight for me of working at Atrius thus far is the colleagues I’ve been able to share patients with. One of the big reasons I haven’t gone into private practice isbecause I really love working with all the primary care doctors within Atrius,” Tjia says. “When I see a patient, I already know their primary care doctor personally, and we are able to collaborate seamlessly and constantly over the patient’s care because we work together constantly and share the same computer system. That’s a level of collaborative care you really can’t get if you’re in a private psychiatry practice.”

Atrius employees collaborate using Epic EHR software. Reed says they were one of the earliest adopters of the software and have been using it since the 90s.

“What that meant for us as a practice was that, early on, we could extract quality metrics to help us improve our quality performance. Because anything you can measure, you can improve upon and build programs around improving that,” says Reed. “By being such a longtime user of Epic, we’ve used data from that to helpus design medical management programs addressing population health, which has improved the outcomes for our patients.”

Atrius provides connected care for more than 700,000 patients. Headquartered in Newton, they have 30 medical practice locations in eastern Massachusetts. They offer primary care and dozens of specialties. And because Atrius has so many locations, Tjia says it’s easy to live close to work.

A shorter commute means more time enjoying the area and all it has to offer with loved ones.

“In just the last three weeks, my family and I have gone to see Cirque du Soleil. We’ve been kayaking down the river that’s just 10 minutes from our house. There’s an endless amount of activities to do, particularly if you have kids,” Tjia says. “It’s a great place for raising a family.”

Atrius Health is currently recruiting in the areas of internal medicine, family medicine, dermatology, neurology, pulmonology, psychiatry and radiology.

Olathe, Kansas

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Just outside of Kansas City lies the charming little city of Olathe. Its fitting name translates to “ beautiful” in Shawnee. Once a stop along the Santa Fe Trail, the city of about 140,000 residents is rich with history. Today, it has a robust culture with plenty of things to do and see — especially for families.

FOR FUN ON THE WATER, head to Lake Olathe Park. With a 170-acre lake surrounded by a 258-acre community park, it’s the perfect place to kayak or fish. Its floating obstacle course is a favorite among kids. Or cool off at Black Bob Bay water park, where you’ll find water slides, swimming pools, a lazy river and more.

If your family likes history, visit the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm. There, you can explore life on the Kansas frontier in the 1800s. Blacksmith demonstrations, farming activities, stagecoach rides and more make the past come alive. The Olathe Prairie Center— a 300- acre tallgrass preserve — also has plenty to entertain families. You’ll find opportunities to learn, trails to walk and a lake to fish in. And kids love the family scavenger hunt at the Ernie Miller Park and Nature Center.

In the warmer months, downtown Olathe hosts Fourth Friday. Kids enjoy face paintings, balloon artists, caricature drawings, food trucks and more. And don’t miss Olathe Live! at Stagecoach Park. The free summer concert series features live music from locally and nationally known musicians.

The Olathe community also has a great variety of eateries. Cool off with a scoop (or two!) of Sylas and Maddy’s Homemade Ice Cream. Or get your barbecue fix at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que.

For even more offerings, Kansas City, Missouri, is just a 25-minute drive away. Its many attractions include sporting events, the Kansas City Zoo, Science City and Kaleidoscope, a children’s amusement center. Plus, there’s tons of restaurants, shopping and much, much more.

If Olathe sounds a great place to raise a family, you’re in luck. You’ll find plenty of professional opportunities there.

Olathe Health employs more than 300 physicians in 40 family care and specialty clinics across four counties. And Olathe Medical Park is one of the largest hospital campuses in the Midwest. It spans an impressive 250 acres with an acute care hospital with 300 licensed beds. Olathe Health’s wide range of specialties include bariatric surgery, breast cancer care, endocrinology, neurosurgery, pulmonology, palliative care, urology and much more.

Olathe Health’s mission is helping people through healing, health and happiness. They’re committed to delivering high quality care. That means giving staff the support and resources they need to serve the community.

The health network’s many awards attest to their commitment. Olathe Medical Center was one of Fortune/IBM Watson Health’s 100 Top Hospitals for 2021. Blue Cross Blue Shield also designated the hospital as a Blue Distinction Center for maternity care. u.s. News & World Report recognized its high performance in kidney failure, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. And in 2021, the medical center received its 10th consecutive Chest Pain – mi Registry Platinum Performance Achievement award from the American College of Cardiology, among several other notable recognitions.

“I’ve lived in this area my entire life,” says Sam Allred, director of physician recruitment and relations at Olathe Health. “I know this system, and when a position came available, I jumped on it because it’s a great place to work.”

Allred says Olathe Health’s many attractions include its beautiful facilities, transparent business model, competitive salaries and local ownership.

“We’re a community hospital. And a lot of physicians like that we’re locally owned, and decisions are made in their best interest here,” Allred says.

For employees like Matthew Blue, M.D., strong collegial relationships are another benefit. Blue is an orthopedic surgeon at Olathe Health.

“We’ve got a really close group that works together, and everyone takes care of things for each other,” he says. “If you need to be off to go see your kids’ games, someone else will take your calls. We’re very flexible.”

Originally from Kansas, Blue completed college at Wichita State University and medical school at the University of Kansas. He then did an orthopedic surgery residency at Texas Tech and an adult reconstructive orthopedics fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine.

After his fellowship, Blue and his wife either wanted to stay in Texas or move back to Kansas. Ultimately, they decided on Olathe.

“Olathe was everything we were interested in in terms of a city,” he says. “It’s small enough that it feels like a small community, but you’re 20 minutes from Kansas City, so you have a lot of things to do. We wanted a small-town vibe with the luxuries of a nearby city.”

The small-town feel lends itself to strong relationships outside of work as well. Blue says Olathe Health has a great sense of community. He connected quickly with his neighbors, some of whom also work at Olathe Health.

“We’re friends outside of work and then can come and work together,” he says. “That’s been a cool experience.”

Olathe Health is currently recruiting in the areas of primary care, cardiology, hematology, oncology and neurology.

Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Wisconsin

Ninety miles east of Minneapolis, you’ll find the lively city of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the state’s eighth largest city. It’s got plenty of career opportunities and things to do. Plus, larger urban areas are easily accessible by car. That happy balance makes it a great place for physicians and their families.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FUN IS EASY TO FIND. Attend a variety of performance art events at the Pablo Center at the Confluence. Explore the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire. Or enjoy restaurants, food trucks, amphitheaters, biking and walking trails, a splash pad and kayaking at River Prairie Park.

And there is no shortage of events and festivals. The offerings include the Eau Claire Jazz Festival, the Northern Wisconsin State Fair, Rock Fest, Big Rig Truck Show, the River Prairie Ginormous Pumpkin Festival and much, much more.

“We truly do experience all four of the seasons and have things to do — indoors and outdoors — during all of those times,” says Karly Dehnke, supervisor of Mayo Clinic Health System provider recruitment.

Mayo Clinic Health System (MCHS) in Eau Claire is part of the larger Mayo Clinic organization. Their Eau Claire hospital campus is a regional hub. It’s a Level II trauma center with 304 beds. Four other regional, critical access hospitals and 10 clinics feed into Eau Claire as well.

Dehnke says physicians benefit from being part of the larger Mayo Clinic system.

“You can have a smaller practice but know you’re part of a large, well- known organization,” she says. “If you are in a smaller practice, you have the support of all the providers in that specialty from what we call ‘the enterprise’ throughout the Mayo Clinic organization. So you can have a very small practice with the ability to tailor your career to be inclusive of clinical care, education and research.”

MCHS has other benefits, too. “We offer a pension, and not many places offer a pension anymore,” Dehnke says. “It’s one of the more unique benefits we offer—one of our differentiators.”

Abdulla Akfaly, M.D., is an internal medicine physician at the mchs Clairemont Campus Clinic in Eau Claire and chair of the primary care and internal medicine department for MCHS Northwest Wisconsin. He’s worked at MCHS for 18 years. He was initially attracted to the system’s quality of care and excellent reputation but quickly found more to appreciate.

Akfaly says he appreciates MCHS’s “collegial, team-based work culture focused on our core value of the needs of our patients [coming] first.”

He’s grateful for Eau Claire’s safe and welcoming community, good schools and outdoor family activities.

MCHS in Eau Claire is currently recruiting for anesthesiology, cardiology, dermatology, family medicine, gastroenterology, hospital medicine, infectious disease medicine, internal medicine, medical oncology, neurosurgery, neurology, obstetrics/ gynecology, ophthalmology, optometry, orthopedic surgery, pediatric medicine, psychiatry, radiology, rheumatology, surgery (colorectal, general and plastic) and urology. •

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