Today, March 30, is National Doctors’ Day. A day to recognize the contributions physicians make to improve the lives of their patients. Eudora Brown Almond created the day in 1933 to honor her husband, who was a physician, and others like him.
She chose March 30 because on that day in 1842 in Jefferson, Georgia, Dr. Crawford W. Long first used ether as an anesthetic during surgery. He excised a neck tumor without causing pain to his patient and revolutionized the practice of surgery.
The Valley Express joins in honoring all doctors today and also highlights three physicians from Ortonville Area Health Services (OAHS) — Dr Bob Ross, Dr. Sarah Fischer and Dr. David Collins.
Dr. Ross has been a physician at OAHS for 44 years and specializes in family medicine and obstetrics. Dr. Fischer a recent addition to OAHS, also specializes in family medicine and obstetrics. She is expecting her first baby in April. Dr. Collins is a young doctor, who finished his residency at the University of Missouri – Columbia last July and joined the OAHS staff last summer. His specialty is emergency medicine and urgent care.
Each of these hardworking physicians has a different background, education, and perspective on medicine. All three have come together at different stages in their lives to share their skills, talents, and all the things that make them uniquely human.
The Valley Express made an appointment to check in with these busy professionals and find out what they are thinking today….
Have you had the opportunity to work with Dr. Fischer and Dr. Collins? Dr Ross: They both spent extended time with our clinic as medical students and are very talented physicians. Dr. Collins adds a new expertise to our organization with his emergency medicine specialty.
Have you spent time working with Dr. Bob? Dr Fischer: I spent time learning from Dr. Bob between 2012 and 2016 during my medical school outreach training visits at OAHS. I admire his dedication and compassion for his family, faith, medicine, and his patients. I truly have not met anyone like Dr. Bob and am grateful for what he has taught me and continues to teach me now.
Dr. Collins: I had the privilege of working with Dr Bob as a third year and fourth year medical student. He came into my medical school career when I needed a mentor most. Medical school can be incredibly stressful and I came from a series of stressful rotations that made me question my career path. Over the next two months, Dr. Bob took me under his wing and showed me what a physician is supposed to be — someone who advocates strongly for his patients, cares about his community, and wants the best for everyone. He helped show me medicine can be fun and you can have fun outside of work, too. Especially on the golf course.
Why did you choose OAHS?
Dr. Fischer: I grew up by Dumont and went to Wheaton High School. I’m from a farming family and my parents and family still live and farm in the Dumont area. I started working at OAHS in the beginning of September 2020 and shortly after that we announced we are expecting our first child In April 2021. So I am very happy to be home and close to my family in the Dumont area and near my husband’s family in Graceville, Glenwood, Milbank, South Dakota areas.
Dr. Collins: OAHS gave me the impression early on (as a medical student) they were one big family who truly cared about the community they lived in and served. I always felt welcomed and wanted as a student and I could tell that held true across all aspects of the facility.
What is the best thing about being a doctor? the worst? Dr. Ross: In family medicine you see new things every day which makes work interesting. Taking care of patients gives you a great sense of purpose. Following patients for 43-plus years is a great reward. Middle of the night work over multiple years is punishing. Dealing with the never ending paper work is frustrating.
Dr. Fischer: The best part is learning and practicing something I love while also helping people in the process. The worst thing is the paperwork and documentation that takes time from the “clinic hours” spent directly with patients in the room.
Dr. Collins: The best thing about being a doctor is being able to see patients in the emergency department, in the hospital and in the community improving after their visit with me. Being able to see them find comfort in their diagnosis and their care and watching them walk out with renewed confidence and reassurance is one of the best gifts my patients give me. The worst thing is having to fight the seas of misinformation out there. I went into medicine to help people navigate the tumultuous seas of medicine. I try to treat each patient like I’d want my family to be treated – with respect and care.
What is the biggest sacrifice you make because of your profession?
Dr. Ross: I honestly don’t consider what I do as a sacrifice. I’ve missed some things, but I have many wonderful memories. When you love what you do, it doesn’t seem like work.
Dr. Collins: Being a doctor means being more available for my community which includes holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc. I’ve missed many family milestones during my training but they always encouraged me to keep going as things would get better. As a provider, I don’t have to miss nearly as much and I’m proud to be part of a group who makes family and community a priority.
Dr. Fischer: Walking the fine line between caring for my patients on a “personal” level while also not picking up and caring those burden’s with me when I leave the office.
[It is interesting to note that Dr. Fischer included the following segment in answer to a question pertaining to her education. We took the liberty of moving it. If it looks like a sacrifice and quacks like a sacrifice… Well, you know the rest.) She says: I went to college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota because they had a medical school and I had the goal of becoming a doctor and returning back to this area. I met my now husband one month before starting medical school and moved four-plus hours away from him. I attended medical school at University of Minnesota, Duluth and Minneapolis campuses for four years. I moved home briefly for one month and got married. I then moved two and a half hours away from my husband to obtain Family Medicine residency specialty training for three years and advanced obstetrics surgical training for one year back in Grand Forks with the Altru Family Medicine Residency Program. FINALLY I moved back home into my house with my husband after EIGHT years of living apart.
What disease would you most like to eradicate? Dr. Ross: Alzheimer’s disease because it’s a cruel disease. Plus, I’m getting to that age. Dr. Collins: Depression/Anxiety/Suicide Dr. Fischer: Cancer
What is the biggest change that has occurred in the field of medicine since you have become a physician? How has it affected you or your patients? Doctor Ross: The biggest changes have come in technology. CT, MRI, and ultrasound give us the ability to see things without invasive procedures. Cardiovascular and endoscopic procedures have made recoveries much quicker. When I started in medicine, cataract patients would be hospitalized for a week on bed rest. Now, you are home in 30 minutes. Gall bladder surgery would require five to seven days in the hospital. Now, you often go home the same day.
Dr Fischer: Advancement of technology in the field of medicine. Both for patient treatment and for communication with patients and other providers. The amount of computer learning and documentation is both a blessing and a curse
Dr. Collins: The emergence of emergency medicine as a recognized specialty. In the last thirty years, emergency medicine has rapidly gained traction and led to new innovations in the field as well as several generations of skilled physicians who focused their training on dealing with the variety of diseases and injuries that can affect a person. Having emergency medicine-trained physicians can give patients the reassurance they have doctors who were trained specifically to watch for the patterns and signs that could put their life at risk. It also allows colleagues in other specialties the reassurance we can look after their patients any time, any day, anywhere, 365 days a year.
What is the most exciting health innovation today? Dr. Ross: Immunotherapy for cancer therapy and for some other diseases.
Dr. Fischer: Currently, COVID-19 research and treatment and the collaboration between health professionals and researchers that is happening across the globe on this issue.
Dr. Collins: Vaccine science. We have watched the impossible unfold over the last year. When Covid started, the experts were saying we were several years away from a vaccine.
Also, my resident facility started using their 3D printers to test making cheap and easy masks in hopes of finding an effective alternative if shortages reached a fever pitch. 3D printing has also made waves in medical simulations. It allows mass productions of parts that require frequent changing in the mannequins, 3D models for procedure practice, etc. The possibilities are endless!
What was the best fictional medical series on TV? Dr. Ross: Marcus Welby, MD because he was good hometown doc.
Dr. Fischer: Grey’s Anatomy, but I’m biased as I’ve gone through my entire college and medical training with this series on the air. Dr. Collins: The Night Shift. It reminds me of the lifelong friendships I made during my residency training, especially on overnights.
What are your favorite ways to relax? Dr. Ross: Golf —I’m trying desperately to beat my wife. Also, doing anything with the grandkids. Dr. Fischer: Making meals or going antique shopping with my husband, playing with my three dogs, playing volleyball, and spending time with family. Soon I’ll include spending time with my newborn child – due April 16.Dr. Collins: Golf, reading, a quiet place by a lake, time with family and friends.