Take me out to the ballgame! In the sports towns St. Louis; Houston; Canton, Ohio; and Pittsburgh, the entertainment is endless. Enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities to watch and play sports of every kind. So if you want to live and practice somewhere that lives and breathes sports, consider one of these four great cities.
St. Louis, Missouri
COMMONLY KNOWN AS THE GATEWAY TO THE WEST, St. Louis, Missouri, is also the gateway to an exciting medical career. The city boasts countless opportunities for medical professionals.
“There’s a lot of health care within St. Louis, and the reason for that is because there is very little health care available outside of the St. Louis metropolitan area. There’s really no tertiary or quaternary healthcare once you go over the Mississippi River in Illinois for a long distance or in the southeast portion of Missouri. It’s all in St. Louis,” says SSM Health chief clinical officer Todd Shuman, M.D. “There are a lot more hospital beds than you’d expect because you’re providing health care to a much larger radius. Because of that, there’s every specialty, two large academic medical centers and in terms of health care and research, all of that is available here.”
SSM Health is a Catholic non-profit health system serving patients in Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. It has 40,000 employees and more than 12,800 providers. SSM Health in St. Louis includes eight hospitals, nearly 2,500 physicians and 11,500 employees.
As a large health network, SSM Health has a clear mission: “Through our exceptional healthcare services, we reveal the healing presence of God.” To make that possible, they’ve developed robust processes for providing reliable care to patients. That’s what ultimately brought Shuman to SSM Health.
Shuman completed medical school and residency at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He came to St. Louis for the first time in the 90’s for a cardiothoracic surgery fellowship. He then practiced in Nashville for many years before relocating to South Carolina. There, he worked as a health system’s chief physician officer.
“I moved to the Carolinas and thought that’s where we would continue to live, but what brought me back to St. Louis were two factors. First, the mission of SSM Health resonated with me, and second was the opportunity to develop clinical programs/integrated practice units. The clinical programs are the way in which we organize the broad SSM clinical community to deliver a value-based system of care across the continuum,” Shuman says. “Think of someone with heart disease or breast cancer. They don’t just get surgical care or medical care, so you need to build a system that is really patient-centric so that the people taking care of breast cancer…are all working in alignment.”
Shuman had already been focused on patient-centric processes in South Carolina, but SSM Health offered him the opportunity to do so across four states. He would get to improve patient care while keeping the organization’s mission in focus.
“Mission is exceedingly important to SSM Health, and it’s palpable,” Shuman says. “This is part of our Franciscan heritage, but there’s no strategy that we ever discuss that we don’t say, ‘How will this help the vulnerable population?’ Therefore, that’s driven a lot of our work and our work around equity in the health care field. When you talk about the things SSM Health has done traditionally … I’d say SSM runs towards the populations that may be shunned by society, and that’s a 150-year heritage. We believe that and try to live that.”
SSM Health also recently integrated with SLUCare Physician Group from Saint Louis University. This integration gives patients access to more types of care, including highly specialized procedures and clinical trials that might deliver breakthrough lifesaving treatments. According to an SSM Health press release, “The agreement also represents a significant investment in the Saint Louis University School of Medicine to expand clinical research, medical training and education across the region.”
That’s great news for patients, but it’s also great news for providers. “With SLUCare now part of our family of physicians, a doctor joining SSM Health has the opportunity to work among providers who are world-class specialists,” says Patrick Kampert, a media relations manager for SSM HEALTH.
The city also has plenty to offer when you’re off the clock, especially for sports fans. It has a longstanding history as a soccer city dating back to 1920. Today, the city is home to the new St. Louis City SC, a Major League Soccer team. The collegiate soccer scene is also thriving. “Saint Louis University has been big in NCAA soccer even before soccer was very popular in this country,” says Shuman.
Hockey fans will love to cheer on the Blues, who won the Stanley Cup in 2019. Baseball fans can head to Busch Stadium to catch a Cardinals baseball game, and football fans will find Battlehawks XFL at The Dome at America’s Center. And Saint Louis University hosts several other sporting events throughout the year.
If you want to get in on the action, you’ll find plenty of options. St. Louis has lots of sports leagues for adults including dodgeball, basketball, volleyball, pickleball, taekwondo, softball and soccer.
St. Louis is also home to Forest Park, one of the nation’s most well-known urban parks. Sitting on an expansive 1,371 acres, it’s 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York City. The park boasts two public golf courses, tennis centers, skating rink, ball fields, handball and racquetball courts. It’s where you’ll find the St. Louis Zoo, two museums, boat rentals, recreation paths, musical theater and more.
A transplant to the city, Kampert says St. Louis is a “terrific city with a moderate climate and many of the attractions of a large city with fewer drawbacks.” From sports and arts to museums and parks, there’s always plenty to do. If you’re looking for the gateway to a fulfilling career and personal life, look no further than St. Louis.
SSM Health is currently recruiting for multiple specialties, including primary care, psychiatry/mental health, advanced practice providers, pediatrics, urology, gastroenterology and pulmonology.
EVERYTHING IS BIGGER IN TEXAS, including the professional opportunities.
As of 2020, the Houston region had 19,493 licensed physicians and over 376,000 total health care workers according to the Texas Medical Board. Houston is also home to the Texas Medical Center. With more than 120,000 employees, 9,200 patient beds and 50 million developed square feet, it’s the largest medical complex in the world. And outside the complex, the city has many other hospitals, clinics and care facilities. Whatever your specialty and preferences, Houston is sure to have opportunities of interest.
Jessica Barrera, M.D., is an OB hospitalist in Houston. She grew up just east of Houston in Deer Park, Texas, and went to Houston Christian University for her undergraduate education. She then attended Texas A&M University for medical school and completed residency at the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville.
“In undergrad, I knew I wanted to do something in medicine, I just wasn’t sure what. I wanted to help people,” Barrera says. “Then I took this embryology class, and it talked about the development of babies and how they’re formed, and I was blown away at how interesting it was. I thought I wanted to do pediatrics or OB/GYN. I did my first delivery in med school, and I said, ‘This is amazing. This is where I’m supposed to be.’”
A native Texan, she was excited to return to the Lone Star State for a private practice opportunity in Cypress, Texas. She worked in that practice for three years until she became an OB hospitalist in 2022. Now, she works for OB Hospitalist Group, the nation’s largest and only dedicated OB/GYN hospitalist provider. Barrera works at two of Houston’s many hospitals: Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital and Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center. Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital has 255 beds, 15 operating rooms, 730 affiliated physicians and 1,872 employees. In 2017, the hospital began an extensive renovation and construction project. This hospital has Magnet recognition, among other impressive accolades. It has been recognized as a Gold Plus Primary Stroke Center by the American Heart Association and as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology.
Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center is a Level II trauma center with 500 beds, more than 1,200 affiliated physicians and over 3,150 employees. The hospital opened its new 351,636-square-foot, eight-story South Tower in 2022, the centerpiece of a $250-plus million expansion. The project brought the campus operating room total to 25. Future phases include expansions to food services, imaging, surgery support, pharmacy and inpatient care areas, according to hospital press releases.
As a hospitalist, Barrera enjoys a more significant role in protocols and operations than she had in private practice. She also gets to spend more time interfacing with staff.
“The difference I enjoy now is getting to have a closer connection to nurses and staff in labor and delivery and in the hospital,” she says. “I’m triaging patients with them and on the floor with them.”
Barrera initially felt fearful of making the switch and becoming an OB hospitalist. She worried she’d lose some of her surgical skills, but she’s found plenty of opportunities to keep those skills sharp in her new role. She’s able to do procedures for situations like ectopic pregnancies. She also supports other surgeons in the operating room.
Outside of the hospital, Barrera has found life in Houston rewarding. She says it’s an easy place for newcomers to call home.
“There are different parts of Houston that are really unique. I feel like Houston caters to every kind of person. You just have to find your area,” she says. “The diversity in culture and food is huge. There’s always music, arts, entertainment, concerts, shows. In the time you have off, you get to really enjoy the city.”
You’ll definitely enjoy the city if you’re a sports fan, too. Head to NRG Stadium for Houston Texans football or the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the world’s largest livestock exhibition and rodeo. Baseball lovers can cheer on the Houston Astros. Basketball fans will enjoy the Houston Rockets games. And soccer enthusiasts will want to check out a Houston Dynamo game. Golf fans can watch the Cadence Bank Houston Open, a PGA Tour tournament. And local colleges, including the University of Houston, Rice University and Texas Southern University, host even more events.
Get in on the action yourself by joining one of the city’s 550 softball teams, 30 flag football teams or 175 basketball teams. Or hit the links at Hermann Park Golf Course, part of the 445-acre Hermann Park. The park also boasts an outdoor theater, jogging track, museum, rose garden and the Houston Zoo.
Houstonians can even enjoy surfing and other water sports. The beaches of Galveston, Texas, are just a 50-minute drive away. From rodeo to surfing, there truly is something for every kind of sports fan. If you’re looking for a city full of personal and professional opportunities, Houston is the place to be.
CALLING ALL FOOTBALL FANATICS! IF YOU LIVE and breathe football, Canton, Ohio, is calling your name. As the birthplace of the National Football League and home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it’s the very definition of a football city.
Stroll through the Hall of Fame museum for a look at the sport’s rich history. Then explore the Collegiate Athletic Association among surrounding Hall of Fame Village. Finally, Canton’s 12,000-square-foot attraction, features the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, the ForeverLawn Sports Complex, the Center for Performance and the Play-Action Plaza along with retail shops and more. Plans for lodging, additional dining, an indoor water park and more are scheduled to be finished in late 2023 or early 2024.
Canton’s location makes it easy to catch a game at one of three NFL stadiums. The Cleveland Browns are just an hour’s drive away at FirstEnergy Stadium. If you love the Pittsburgh Steelers, you can be at Acrisure Stadium in about two hours. And Cincinnati Bengals fans can make it to Paycor Stadium in just under four hours.
Of course, if you’re not a football fan, that’s okay, too. Canton’s proximity to so many cities and college towns means easy access to dozens of sporting events.
Canton is also home to the C.T. Branin Natatorium, one of the premier swimming facilities in the Midwest. It has hosted championships for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the National Elite Sports facility hosts volleyball, karate, wrestling, dance, cheer and more.
Canton isn’t just a great city to get your sports fix, though. It’s also a great place to learn, live and practice. So says Roger Musa, M.D., a native of Toronto, Ontario, and a graduate of Saba University School of Medicine. When he came to Canton for a family medicine residency at Aultman Hospital, he planned to return to Canada after training. Halfway through residency, his plans changed.
“My wife and I had two kids, and the faculty were so supportive it felt like we had family here away from home,” Musa says. “The faculty themselves became like family. Our kids went to school here in Canton. We really started to form roots, and by the time residency was over, I felt like this was home and decided to stay.”
Today, Musa serves as the program director of the Aultman Family Medicine Residency Program and the executive director of medical education at Aultman Hospital, part of the Aultman Health Foundation. He is also the designated institutional official
The Aultman Health Foundation is a not-for-profit, integrated health care organization that includes Aultman Hospital, Aultman Orrville Hospital, Aultman Alliance Community Hospital, AultCare, The Aultman Foundation and Aultman College. Across the organization, there are 1,032 beds, over 1,000 active providers and a team of more than 7,000 employees.
Aultman Hospital was ranked as one of the best hospitals in Ohio for 2022-2023 by U.S. News & World Report. And Newsweek listed it as one of The World’s Best Hospitals in 2021.
Aultman Hospital does an exceptional job of caring not only for its patients but also its employees. Musa says Aultman offers free mental health visits, screenings and bloodwork. They also incentivize getting preventive care, and they cover gym membership fees. Additionally, Musa says Aultman regularly sponsors events for physicians to get to know one another, as well as dinners, fun days and family-friendly events.
Aultman offers six different residencies and two fellowships. “My pride and joy is the family medicine residency program. I have been the director for eight years. I love teaching,” Musa says. “It remains such a rewarding position, I can’t see myself doing anything else or even going back to Toronto.”
Musa and his wife have raised all five of their children in Canton. They love its high-ranking public and private schools, safe neighborhoods and excellent cost of living.
“It’s very collegial, and honestly if it wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t have stayed,” says Musa. “But because of the physician support, even though we care for thousands of patients, it feels like a smaller community hospital. Most importantly, we care about each other’s mental health. When someone is struggling, there is always someone to reach out to.
We are flexible. We cover each other if needed. Our families come first. If something’s happening at home, we’ve got each other’s backs.”
That emphasis on relationships is what led Musa to family medicine in the first place. When Musa was 8 years old, his grandfather was hospitalized for prostate cancer that had metastasized.
“The last time that I saw him was in a hospital bed, and I remember these physicians walking in with bad news but being supportive,” Musa recalls. “I remember how his family doctor specifically seemed to know everybody in our family, and I remember feeling I wanted that kind of relationship with people.”
Musa decided to specialize in family medicine during his undergraduate years. During a wellness visit, he asked his own family medicine doctor about his career.The conversation convinced Musa that family medicine was the right path. Today, Musa appreciates family medicine because it offers the opportunity to form lifelong relationships.
“I’ve delivered children that are now my patients as adults,” he says. “It’s such a rewarding thing to be able to take care of several generations of patients.”
YOU MAY KNOW PITTSBURGH AS THE STEEL City or the City of Bridges, but did you know it’s also a sports and medicine hotspot? The city is home to Steelers football, Pirates baseball, Riverhounds soccer and Penguins hockey. For residents, life is all about cheering on the black and gold. There’s also vibrant collegiate sports, thanks to the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University and nearby West Virginia University.
“Pittsburgh is known to be one of the most passionate sports cities in the nation,” says Philip Cynar, senior director of media and public relations for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. “Each of these teams has a storied history and are beloved by many fans across the country and even worldwide. Pittsburgh takes great pride in their sports teams, and on game day you’re bound to see fans out and about across the region donning the black and gold that represent all our professional sports teams.”
The city also takes great pride in its parks and recreational spaces. That’s great news when you’re ready to get out and get active yourself.
“We like to say, ‘Pittsburgh is packed with parks!’ In fact, 91 percent of Pittsburghers are within a 10-minute walk of a green space,” says Cynar. “Stumble upon one of our parks, and you’re sure to see people relaxing, enjoying a picnic, biking, playing frisbee, walking their dog or soaking up the summer sun on a grassy knoll. The options are infinite.”
You can take part in just about any kind of recreational sport through the Pittsburgh Sports League. Think dodgeball, flag football, kickball, darts, cornhole and broomball. You’ll also find bocce ball, curling, roller derby, rowing, rugby, ultimate frisbee and Quidditch in various clubs and leagues throughout the city. You name the sport, Pittsburgh has it.
In fact, you could say the same thing about almost any kind of amenity. It’s why many people who grow up in Pittsburgh don’t want to leave. That was certainly the case for Lauren Valyo, D.O.
“It’s a big enough city to offer almost everyone from any walk of life the things they need when it comes to amenities and things to do,” Valyo says. “From an urban and cultural standpoint, there’s a lot of different foods and things to do, but it’s also small enough that it doesn’t have a lot of the downsides a lot of large cities have like heavy traffic.”
A native Pittsburgher, Valyo attended the University of Pittsburgh for undergrad. She went to Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie, Pennsylvania, for medical school, but she quickly returned. She completed an emergency medicine residency at Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh. And now, she’s an emergency medicine physician at Allegheny Valley Hospital, a short commute from the city.
Valyo hadn’t always planned to be a physician. In undergrad, she set out to pursue a pharmacy career and took on a job as a pharmacy tech outside of classes. But Valyo found the role boring. She decided to take an EMT class with a friend because it paid more. The job was fun and exciting, and it made her think she would enjoy emergency medicine. She changed her major and applied to medical school
“Part of the reason I went into emergency medicine is still one of my favorite things about it, and that for me is going to work every day and not knowing exactly what’s going to happen,” Valyo says. “I think a lot of people in emergency medicine get bored easily. We like excitement. I would hate waking up to a job every day that was preplanned for me, and I knew exactly what was going to happen and what needed to get done. I recently delivered a baby at my community hospital that does not have OB. I didn’t wake up that day and think. ‘I’m going to deliver a premature baby today.’ I just went to work.”
Allegheny Health Network is an integrated health system serving 29 counties in Pennsylvania and portions of Ohio, New York and West Virginia. ahn has 14 hospitals with more than 2,200 beds, six surgery centers, plus more than 250 care locations, 11 residency programs and 17 fellowship programs. Collectively, it has 21,000 employees and more than 2,400 physicians, residents and fellows.
Throughout her career, Valyo has been able to experience many sides of the Allegheny Health Network. She completed her residency at Allegheny General Hospital—a 576-bed Level I trauma center that admits 24,000 patients each year. Annually, the hospital sees 300,000 outpatient visits, 55,000 emergency department registrations and 23,000 surgical procedures. Now, Valyo practices at Allegheny Valley Hospital, a smaller community-based hospital.
Valyo has enjoyed elements of both experiences, and she’s happy with the path she’s taken after residency. Now, she’s able to live in the city and commute to one of AHN’s hospitals on the outskirts. “I really like the small-town feel of my community hospital and coming home to a city and all it provides me,” Valyo says. “It’s a great city for me to be in because it provides the best of both worlds for me.” •