Lansing Attracts Talent With State-of-the-Art Medical Upgrades
For a medical student, Joel Krauss seems to have a lot of extra time.
"We go out for dinner, drinks and whatnot. There's more stuff to do in Lansing than people imagine. There's the Lugnuts
, a lot of bars downtown. We've been playing a lot of golf, actually—there's one course that has a med student special," he says.
"We try to study hard when we have to, but then get away from it and take breaks, because we know it's a long process to becoming a physician and we don't want to burn out."
A born-and-raised Michigander, Krauss spent four years at the University of Michigan
for his undergrad, and turned to Michigan State University
in East Lansing for med school. A powerful combination of in-state tuition, quality education and being close to home kept him here. "I just couldn't pass that up," Krauss says.
Now at the tail end of his second semester in MSU's medical program, the Grand Rapids native is liking experience so far.
"The environment they have created facilitates cooperative learning," he says. "The faculty is really nice; they require our feedback about every class, every teacher. They really put the students first. It's a lower stress environment than other med schools."
Krauss will be among the first 50 second-year students to attend MSU’s Grand Rapids medical campus this August—a location that has previously been reserved for higher-level students doing clinical work. Building Up for Expansion
Though Krauss is headed to the western side of the state, he says he can see himself returning to Lansing.
Up-and-coming doctors like Krauss do often stay in Mid-Michigan, because the area continues to build top-notch facilities and family medical practices that provide excellent training and equipment.Sparrow Hospital
responded to growing patient rates—which have grown by more than 40,000 a year over the last four years—with the new Sparrow Tower, which opened last January. The $160 million building features top-of-the-line surgical equipment and is the region's only Certified Trauma Center. This expansion also includes the region’s only specialized children’s emergency room.
“We have created a hospital for the 21st century—a better, safer, more comfortable and more effective environment of care,” says Sparrow’s president, Dennis Swan.
Floors seven through 10 of the Tower facility are empty in anticipation of continued rising patient rates—a striking vote of confidence in Lansing's future.
"There are good opportunities here," says Dr. Jeremy Barber, an internal medical resident at Ingham Region Medical Center
. "There's a really great mix of patient cooperation, good practices, medical support and staff in the area. We're seeing incredible numbers in the hospitals."From Top Down to Bottom Up
Family practice physician, Dr. Bassel Atasi, originally wanted to open a practice in Ann Arbor or Detroit to be closer to his family. He ended up in Lansing because Ingham Regional Medical Center, was able to give Atasi the kind of pay and flexibility he was looking for.
Atasi says Lansing's medical community is full of opportunities that are worth an hour-long commute from Brighton, where he lives in order to be near his relatives. Atasi found many unexpected perks to his Lansing practice, too.
"I see patients from all walks of life, from professional to unemployed, from engineers to janitors," he says. "It's not like that in Detroit."
Surprisingly, he has also enjoyed the distance from field specialists, which have mainly clustered in Detroit and Ann Arbor.
"Sometimes it is easier to refer to an expert rather than figure it out. I've learned a lot; I'm more dependent on myself. I've learned more procedures because there is not always a specialist there to hand it off to."Grounds for Innovation
Recent medical developments have found an eager base of doctors in Lansing willing to explore new procedures.
One such procedure is ultrasound-guided anesthesiology blocks—a new procedure that uses an ultrasound to locate and apply anesthetic to a nerve before surgery.
In the past, finding a nerve was a guessing game based on basic anatomy: the ultrasound shows exactly where the nerve is with an accuracy of 0.15 to 0.3 milliliters. An average nerve is about one milliliter in width.
While most hospitals nationwide still shy away from a technology that’s costly and hard to learn, Ingham Region Medical Center dove right in and introduced the procedure in 2007, the fourth year it was available.
“It's actually a cost savings for the hospital if you look at the time patients spend here after,” says Dr. Ray Sohn. The increased accuracy means less pain following surgery and a quicker recovery time.
“Last time, I was hitting that morphine pump every five seconds. Not anymore,” says one satisfied patient recovering from his second knee surgery. His first operation he was anesthetized the old way, while this time around he opted for the ultrasound.
Another leading-edge procedure that’s made its way to Lansing far ahead of most of the medical world is robotic surgery.
This technology can be used for operations on the lower abdomen, and is less invasive than most traditional approaches because the robot can enter through a series of small slits in the body.
The surgeon controls the robot with pedals and a head console that gives him a high-definition 3-D view of the operation. Robotic surgery allows for a less invasive procedure, higher accuracy and a quicker recovery.
“It's like The Fantastic Voyage,” says Dr. Douglas Pugmire, who has been using the technology at Ingham Hospital with his gynecology patients.
Of the 600 to 700 hospitals in the U.S. that have this equipment, 33 are in Michigan, and three are in Lansing's Sparrow and Ingham hospitals. Lansing has more of this equipment than the countries of Australia or Sweden.
Talent, equipment and innovation are a large reason new doctors stay in Lansing.
“I feel that I've gotten where I am because people took time to teach me, so I should give back and do the same. It's a good community to be in," says Dr. Stacey Tremp, chief resident of obstetrics and gynecology at Ingham.
“Lansing has a lot to offer, both in training and established doctors,” she says.
Emily Wenstrom is a writer who lives and works in Lansing.
Dave Trumpie is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.
Robotic Surgery at Ingham Regional Hospital
Medical student Josh Krauss at Sparrow Hospital
Sparrow's new tower building
Dr. Stacey Tremp, chief resident of obstetrics and gynecology at Ingham
Dr. Douglas Pugmire at Ingham
Josh Krauss & Sparrow Photographs © Dave Trumpie
Ingham Regional Hospital Photographs © Dave Courey