29 Jul Olympic Medical Center proves to be a very desirable place to practice medicine
More than 30 new providers have joined OMP since 2020
Since the start of 2020, more than 30 providers have joined Olympic Medical Physicians, including 10 in newly-created positions, providing improved access to healthcare for Olympic Peninsula residents. Of those more than 30 providers to begin working with OMP over the last 18 months, seven have been primary care providers, six are walk-in clinic providers and 13 have been specialty providers in fields such as orthopedics, urology, cardiology, sleep medicine and women’s health.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on many health care organizations’ abilities to recruit – some have even let medical staff go due to difficult finances – but such has not been the case with Olympic Medical Physicians. Thanks to a commitment to having the medical professionals needed to care for the community, along with diligent financial stewardship, OMC has been highly successful at bringing skilled providers to Port Angeles and Sequim.
“One of the best things about OMC is our long-standing commitment to our employees and our commitment to the community,” says Darryl Wolfe, chief executive officer. “I believe that becomes very apparent to candidates when they come to meet us.”
Shenna Younger, HR Business Partner, has been a part of recruiting each of the more than 30 providers who have joined OMP since the beginning of last year. Younger estimates OMP has interviewed close to 100 potential providers over that time.
“The team here at OMC and OMP has done an outstanding job in telling our story to potential candidates,” says Josh Jones, MD, chief physician officer, Olympic Medical Physicians. “To recruit more than 30 providers in the last year and a half is a testament to how enticing Olympic Medical Center and the North Olympic Peninsula are to medical professionals.”
One of those providers recently recruited is Amy Kalisek, ARNP, who joined the cardiology team in February. Prior to coming to the Olympic Peninsula, Kalisek spent time working in Seattle, Colorado, New Hampshire and Philadelphia, but she has always been drawn back to living in a smaller community.
The Peninsula checks all the boxes for us.
Kalisek and her husband, along with their four dogs – two Newfoundlands and two miniature Australian shepherds – enjoy spending their free time outdoors with activities such as hiking, fishing and paddleboarding, all of which can be found on the Olympic Peninsula.
“I think it’s unique in the fact that you have the ocean right there, but you also can enjoy the mountains, and then you have Lake Crescent,” Kalisek says. “The biggest thing is we just love being outdoors.”
Many providers share Kalisek’s goal of a balanced lifestyle that suits both their professional aspirations and their desire to enjoy the many recreational opportunities found on the Olympic Peninsula.
“Olympic Medical Center is a desirable place to work,” says Jennifer Burkhardt, chief human resources officer and general counsel. “It’s where we live, and it’s also our mission, our amazing employees, and our organization’s strong reputation. Our location often piques a candidate’s interest in working here, but it’s the great health care we provide here that most often cinches the deal.”
Olympic Medical Center offers providers what most health care systems find difficult to match – a collaborative, stable environment in which to care for patients, an unparalleled setting in which to enjoy their free time and the family-friendly atmosphere of a small community.
“People are looking at moving where they vacation, and a lot of people vacation here,” Younger adds. “I think that the amenities that we have with the Olympic National Park in our back yard and Victoria and the Strait [of Juan de Fuca] out in the front yard, is a huge attraction.”
Kalisek joined the OMP cardiology staff of Dr. Kara Urnes, Dr. Robert Henson II, Dr. James Emery and Tracy Zaher-Lee, ARNP, who she says quickly made her feel like a valued member of the team.
“It’s the dynamic of the people I work with,” Kalisek says. “I’ve learned so much from them. They’ve been wonderful teachers and mentors. I feel like we have a really great staff that really cares about the patients and cares about me learning to better care for our patients. I feel very supported.”
For Anthony Becher, PA-C, joining OMP’s orthopedics team represented something of a homecoming. He first visited the Olympic Peninsula when he was about 10 years old as he and his family made the trip from Southern California to see his grandparents. Becher first started working with OMP’s orthopedic team in April.
“We’ve been up here visiting my grandparents on different occasions all the time, and know that it’s a smaller community, smaller area, which is what we’re looking for,” Becher says.
Becher and his wife are the parents of a four-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son, so living in a family-oriented community was important to native of Southern California.
“There’s a lot to offer here,” Becher says. “Making sure it was going to be right for our kids, coming into the school age…There’s lots of outdoor things, and kids can hike and wander and explore and play, see new things.”
For Becher, working in a rural healthcare setting, where he can more easily establish a rapport with his patients, was appealing.
“I like making a connection with people,” Becher says. “I like fostering relationships and that increases the trust that’s there.”
OMC is its own little community and I feel very welcome. I feel like how OMC has expanded into the neighborhoods is symbolic of how it is part of this community.
Dr. John Miller interviewed with OMP from his living room in southern Mississippi last summer, in part due to the prevalence of COVID-19 at the time, but also because he was already familiar with the Port Angeles area.
Dr. Miller, who joined the OMP primary care team in January, first visited the Olympic Peninsula in 2017 and soon realized it was where he hoped to eventually live and work.
“I had always wanted to move to the Northwest,” Dr. Miller says of what brought him to OMC. “Back probably now four or so years, I came out to the Olympic Peninsula for the first time. I had been out to Seattle and just decided to come out here and explore and just fell in love with it immediately. I love the Northwest.”
In a recent trend, the pandemic has caused many job seekers to prioritize living in a rural area, whether that was a long-held value accelerated into action by COVID-19 or a new desire to live in a small town, where commutes are shorter, open spaces are aplenty and a sense of community is evident. When candidate visit the Olympic Peninsula, Younger hears of an appreciate for living in a smaller town, having shorter commutes and a strong sense of community.
“For 99 percent of the providers, they fall in love, and I get to witness it,” Younger said. “I get to watch people fall in love with the same things I fell in love with.”
Dr. Miller and his wife visited the Olympic Peninsula on their honeymoon and both knew it was where they wanted to end up one day. One day came sooner than they may have expected.
“There may be a few more examples from last year, but I’m sure I’m one of the few doctors who interviewed for a job without shoes on,” Dr. Miller says with a chuckle, recalling his virtual interview from his home in Mississippi.
This just was a perfect fit in terms of where I would want to live.
Dr. Miller says the natural beauty of the Peninsula and the welcoming nature of the people who call it home are what drew him to the area.
“The people, the scenery, the weather,” Dr. Miller says. “Just all of that together.”
Since joining OMC, Dr. Miller has been impressed by a supportive and collaborative working style, from clinical staff to administration and leadership.
“The people, primarily,” Dr. Miller says of what he’s enjoyed most about working at OMC. “Everybody’s been very nice, very supportive, willing to do anything they can to help me figure out what I need to do or take care of any problems that I have.”
Dr. Naffie Ceesay joined OMP’s Walk-In Clinic in February and, in short order, has witnessed the camaraderie of the staff.
“Everybody has been really nice, very welcoming, very helpful, because if you’re new somewhere, it’s hard to navigate your way around,” Dr. Ceesay says. “Everybody has been more than welcoming.”
Dr. Ceesay is something of a globetrotter. Born in Gambia, she spent parts of her youth in Japan and the United States. She grew up in Muskegon, a town of about 35,000 on Lake Michigan on the western coast of Michigan. Following medical school in Saint Kitts and Nevis, West Indies, Dr. Ceesay completed her MBA and two residencies – one with Detroit Medical Center, the other with St. Luke’s University Health Network in New Jersey – as well as a Global Health Fellowship at the University of Washington.
Before moving to Port Angeles to join OMP in February, she lived and worked in New York City and Seattle.
“This is right up my alley,” Dr. Ceesay says of the community-oriented environment of the Olympic Peninsula. “I do like the relaxing atmosphere and the mountain views, the water views. You cannot get that in New York City. It’s been amazing, just getting some fresh air and being able to go out and hike. That’s amazing. I wouldn’t trade that for the hustle and bustle of the city.”
When Dr. Ceesay and her husband visited Port Angeles for her interview at OMC, her husband was awestruck by the backdrop of the majestic Olympic Mountains, so much so, in fact, that it reminded him of his hometown of Fribourg, Switzerland.
“This place reminds me of Switzerland,” Dr. Ceesay says. “It looks just like the little town where my husband came from. When we came to interview, he was just blown away. He said, ‘Oh my gosh, you have to take this job. It makes me feel like I’m home again.’”
It definitely has one of the most breathtaking views I’ve seen.
Olympic Medical Center is hiring for a variety of clinical and non-clinical positions. Visit olympicmedical.org/careers to learn more about our professional, skilled and entry-level job opportunities.
Olympic Medical Physicians Primary Care Clinics are open to new patients. For more information on availability, services and hours, visit www.olympicmedical.org/services/family-medicine/ or call (360) 565-0999.
New OMP Providers since 2020 (as of July 29, 2021)
Amy Kalisek, ARNP, Cardiology
Ranjini Krishnan, MD, Cardiology
Paul Townsend, PA-C, Family Medicine
Oana Ivan, PA-C, Family Medicine
Kassandra Yager, ARNP, Family Medicine
Sophia Felder, ARNP, Family Medicine
Trevor Jackman, PA-C, Family Medicine
John Miller, MD, Family Medicine
Edward Katime, MD, Family Medicine
Michael Reopelle, MD, General Surgery
Kim Weber, ARNP, General Surgery
Evgeny Bistrika, MD, Hospitalist Services
Jack Bevins, MD, Hospitalist Services
Rudo Ambayi, MD, Hospitalist Services
Binay Shah, MD, Medical Oncology
Mark Sienko, MD, Medical Oncology
Dekker McKeever, DPM, Orthopedics
Adam Killpack, DPM, Orthopedics
Annie Mullin, PA-C, Orthopedics
Sara Steffen, PA-C, Orthopedics
Anthony Becher, PA-C, Orthopedics
Leah Fegan, MD, Psychiatry
Claire Edwins, ARNP, Sleep Medicine
Jeff Russell, PA-C, Urology
Erik Farley, PA-C, Walk-In Clinic
Suzanne Fiala, MD, Walk-In Clinic
Jessica Cooper, ARNP, Walk-In Clinic
Savannah Ketterer, PA-C, Walk-In Clinic
Naffie Ceesay, MD, Walk-In Clinic
Michael Coudriet, ARNP, Walk-In Clinic
Katie Armbruster, ARNP, Women’s Health