Doctors celebrate anniversaries in Princeton

mug shoen
Dr. Shoen
mug myers
Dr. Myers

Fairview Northland Medical Center is celebrating big anniversaries of three of its doctors this month – David Bue (40 years), Dean Myers (30 years) and Gregory Schoen (25 years). All three started working at the town’s medical center, long before Fairview took it over.
Myers and Schoen each provided some insight into what it is like working as a family medical doctor, which is also Bue’s title.
Here are their stories:
Dr. Myers
Myers, who turns 59 on Sept. 13, is a native of Litchfield, received  his undergraduate degree at Augsburg, where he majored in chemistry. He got to thinking about going into a medical career in college, when he knew a couple physician friends.
“I thought, ‘What am I going to do with a chemistry major?” Myers said.
Also, the fact that doctors work with people was appealing, Myers added.
Myers’ four years of medical school were with the University of Minnesota (U of M), two in Duluth and two in Minneapolis.
When Myers took his physician job at Princeton Hospital, as it was known then, the physican staff was fairly small. “I was the sixth person besides (Dr.) Norman Metcalf and there was concern there would not be enough work for me,” Myers recalled.
The fact that the staff was small influenced one of the questions he was given during his interview, which was, was Myers a hunter.
Turns out Myers wasn’t a hunter and today he maintains that the liklihood was high that he wouldn’t have gotten the job had he been able to answer yes to the hunter question. The reason was that there was a number of other doctors on the staff who took time off from the job in the fall for deer hunting, and having a doctor who could help fill in at that time would be beneficial, Meyers explained.
Myers’ high points in the job
“I like all of my contacts with people, and being able to support people in good health and bad health,” Myers said about what he has enjoyed most in his job.
Myers already had some taste of that before coming to Princeton, having gone through three years of medical residency at St. Francis Hospital in LaCrosse. It was where he first experienced as a doctor a patient dying, and a child being born.
“I chose family practice because it covered all aspects (of medicine),” Myers continued, who estimates that he delivered aproximately 600 babies when he was a pediatrician up until the mid 1990s.
His less likable parts of the job? “The administrative sorts of things,” Meyers said. He explained that he feels he is spending less time as a physician now and spending more time doing data entry. Meyers said he likes the electronic storage of information to access but the part of entering it. If one code is off for ordering something for patient under Medicare, Medicare won’t pay for it, and sometimes the consequence is the lab not carrying oiut the orer, he said. Myers added that he felt he was being cost efficient before all the new electronic coding requirements, but now because of regulations and insurance restrictions, he has to justify everything he does.
Myers, reflecting on one of his fond memories of dealing with patients, said he once had a patient who was an older woman and also a poet. One of her poems had these lines: “I used to live by will power. Now I live by pill power.”
That was her experience with Medicare when I was taking care of her,” he said.
Myers says he “doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon.”
Schoen has two jobs at Fairview Northland. He is still a part of the physician team at the clinic in Princeton after about 22 years, and is now also vice president of medical affairs at the hospital.
Schoen also continues his long time as a physician on the sidelines during Princeton home football games
Schoen, a native of Hastings, said he got interested in medicine from being treated by a Dr. Herman Fasbender in his hometown.
“He was my old general practioner,” said Schoen, noting that Dr. Fasbender treated him for multiple ankle sprains, some knee problems and warts. Schoen remembers asking the doctor a lot of questions about why he was doing treatments to Schoen a certain way until one day Fasbender, in his office, asked Schoen at age 13 or 14, if he had very thought about becoming a doctor. Schoen says that got him thinking about it.
Schoen earned a BS in biology at St. John’s University, got his medical degree at the University of Minnesota, and then had his medical residency at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul.
Dr. Steve Johnson, who is also now a longtime doctor at Fairview Northland, and who was a couple years ahead of Schoen in residency at Bethesda, later let Schoen know that the medical facility in Princeton was looking for more physicians.
Schoen remembers being the eighth doctor added to the physicians group at Princeton when he signed on there.
Schoen’s likes about the job
“To me the essence of family practice is getting to know families and becoming a part of the community,” Schoen said. He added that he also likes the diversity or medical work as a family physician. It involves treating all ages with all kinds of illnesses, he explained.
Schoen estimates that he delivered close to a thousand babies when he did that work for about 20 years.
Like Dr. Myers, Schoen said he dislikes the bureaucracy involved in medicine today. Prior to the current method of record keeping, the doctors wrote down information for orders and another person handled putting in the appropriate codes, he said.
“I think they are always trying to improve things and then when things are getting better the health environment changes,” Schoen said.
Schoen noted that the United States is moving to a new diagnostic coding system by 2014 in which the number of codes will be expanded from the current 20,000 to 70,000,
Besides those changes, there is the bureaucracy of the insurance companies to where “they are dictating health care,” Schoen said.
For example, a person might have been in a particular medicine for five years and was doing well with that and then the insurance company no longer lists it in the formulary (for coverage), Schoen said.
“If doctors could be doctors and insurance companies went back to helping improve health care it would be better,” Schoen added.
Schoen says he doesn’t foresee the situation of the large amount of administrative work that doctors now have, ever changing. That is why a number of doctors decide to just go full time into administrative work, he said.
Schoen also has in common with Myers that Schoen was also asked in his hiring interview if he was a hunter, and like Myers, wasn’t a hunter. Schoen recalled also being asked if he was a golfer.
Dr. Bue, on the medical staff, was looking for a golfing partner and they (the administrators) wanted me to golf but not hunt, Schoen said.
Schoen listed in one sentence what he has found to be high and low points in his job.
“It is a joyous moment delivering a baby and heart wrenching when people are dying and telling people they’re terminal,” he said.
“I look at all the unbelievable opportunities to participate in people going through all phases of their life. Gifts I have been given to be able to do.”
Kelly Ojeda, marketing and public relations consultant for Fairview, says the anniversaries of doctors, Bue, Myers and Schoen, are each a “big milestone,” and shows the number of longtime providers at Fairview Northland and that they “believe in what we do.”