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Happy National Doctors' Day

Posted on Mar. 29, 2019 ( comments)
Stethoscope

For National Doctors’ Day, we are highlighting a few of MultiCare’s many physicians and what drew them to the medical field.

Mathew Rawlins

Mathew Rawlins, MD
Surgery and bariatric surgery, Spokane

Why did you get into medicine?

As a teenager, I was drawn to science and math and thought about engineering. But I determined that sitting behind a desk would not hold my interest. My wise father told me, “When you choose a career pick something you will look forward to getting out of bed to go do on a Monday morning.” I knew that that would have to involve one-on-one interaction with people. Medicine was suddenly the natural choice.

What is the most rewarding part of being a doctor?  

Having meaningful one-on-one interactions with patients or their families.

What advice would you give a new practitioner in my field?

Never lose sight of the privilege it is to have a career where your primary job is to be kind and care for people. All the problems pale in comparison to that privilege.

Keith Havenstrite

Keith Havenstrite, MD
Cardiothoracic surgery, Tacoma

Why did you get into medicine?

I am a surgeon because I want to make a positive, tangible difference in patients' lives.  

What’s the most rewarding part of being a doctor?

The most rewarding aspect of my surgical practice is working with an entire team of medical professionals — nurses, technicians, perfusionists, doctors, care managers and office staff — to help patients improve their health through every stage of surgical care. 

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a newly practicing doctor in your field?

Take the time to spend with patients and their families to ensure they understand their medical condition and how you and the team plan to help make it better. 

Nadine Gettel

Nadine Gettel, MD
Internal medicine, Auburn

Why did you get into medicine?

I have always been fascinated by the human body and being a physician has allowed me to pursue my interest in science while still working in a serving profession.

What is the most rewarding part of being a doctor?

The relationship with my patients has been the most rewarding part of being a physician. I see each patient encounter as an opportunity to continually educate myself and my patients in the changing field of medicine. Each patient has a unique story and I am honored to have them share this with me.  

What is one piece of advice you would give to a newly practicing doctor in your field?

The most important piece of advice I would give is that to be a successful physician it is paramount to live a balanced life and provide compassion and empathy to your patients. I believe it is this kind of relationship that will allow them to completely trust you so that you are able to provide the best health care for them. 


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Amy Anderson

Amy Anderson, MD
Women’s health and family medicine, Spokane

Why did you get into medicine?

I grew up in Montana and had some really great physician role models in my small home town. My father was a chemistry professor, and he helped me to develop a strong math and science foundation. Even though I didn’t have any doctors in my family, I felt that medicine would be a good profession for me in that I could use my science background but apply that to caring for people and their families longitudinally.

What is the most rewarding part of being a doctor? 

I think I have the best job in the world as a family physician in Spokane. Every day is different and I can honestly say that I am constantly challenged and never bored. I work with great partners at Rockwood Quail Run. I have been with Rockwood for 15 years and have taken care of many of my patients for over a decade. The BEST part of my job is getting to know individuals and families over time and both working to keep them healthy and helping them navigate medical challenges when they do arise.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a newly practicing doctor in your field?

My advice to any new family physician would be to take time to LISTEN to each and every patient. We often get behind, have mountains of paperwork to complete and phone calls to make, so sometimes that is challenging to do successfully. I find that when I get stressed out, I try to take a step back and remind myself that I am here for the patient and everything else can wait. Secondly, I would advise any new physician to remember that self-care is important. You can’t take care of anyone else successfully unless you take care of yourself first. I think that personal/professional life balance is so important and essential.

Roy Semlacher

Roy Semlacher, MD
Plastic surgery, Tacoma

Why did you get into medicine?

There are very few fields of work that compare to the complexity of medicine. In some cases, a physician may need to embrace stoicism when others turn to emotion. While in others, the physician may need find empathy when others are unable. The care and well-being of the patient is always the highest priority and therefore the need to mix creativity, sensibility and overall goodwill together to accomplish the best outcome for the patient was extremely attractive to me.

What is the most rewarding part of being a doctor? 

While at lunch with my family one weekend, a young boy and his mother came up to our table. The woman expressed that they had come over to thank me for aiding in the care of her father, who had been in a serious accident years prior. She continued to explain that it was once a serious concern of theirs that her father may not be around for another holiday season with his grandchildren, yet he remained healthy and optimistic for many more holidays to come. It was a very short conversation, but to this day, that experience motivates me. Understanding that I had a part, no matter how small it may have been, in supplementing another person’s life experience remains an invaluable occurrence in both my professional and personal life.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a newly practicing doctor in your field?

Understand what your duty is. As rewarding, exciting and significant a doctor’s life may be, it can be just as challenging, tedious and frustrating. When times are tough, physicians are looked to as the ones to remain vigilant and stay the course. The doctors I respected most during my training were the ones who demonstrated accountability, rationality and mental fortitude when things may not be going as planned. Understanding and embracing one's role as this figure is the first step in leading to a consistent and consequential career.

Rebecca Whitesell

Rebecca Whitesell, MD
Pediatric orthopedics, Tacoma

Why did you get into medicine?

For as long as I can remember I wanted to become a doctor, but sometime in high school that was solidified into a true career path. I was a ballet dancer until I was in college and had multiple injuries that caused me to become close with my orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist. When starting medical school, I wasn’t sure what specialty I wanted to pursue, until my third year when I did a rotation in orthopedics. There was something about the first case I scrubbed that stuck with me and made me excited about orthopedics in a way I hadn’t been excited about other specialties. Once I was in residency I realized the special relationship you get to develop with families when specializing in pediatric orthopedics.

What’s the most rewarding part of being a doctor?

The most rewarding part of being a pediatric orthopedic surgeon is developing a relationship with the patient and their parents. It’s a unique dynamic to build trust not only with your young patient but also with their parents. Helping our patients return to sports after a fall off the monkey bars, hold their heads tall after scoliosis surgery or be able to wear normal shoes after being born with a clubfoot deformity is an amazing privilege.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a newly practicing doctor in your field?

I was so lucky in finding my current partners in my first practice out of residency. They were amazingly supportive in helping me develop my practice and remain some of my closest mentors. Go with your instinct in which practice is right for you after training. Sometimes the best opportunities are not the ones that look perfect on paper or meet certain ideal criteria, but rather are the ones that feel right.


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