There's more to being a Top Doctor than knowing medicine, as this program shows.
It’s hard to believe two decades have passed since we introduced the Top Doctors program. In this time we’ve deliberated an endless number of hours and have named 249 remarkable physicians to the Top Docs honor role. This year’s class of 21 Top Docs is no different, we just don’t seem to round our numbers very well.
I’m amused when I read of the calamities folks encounter along their career path. Same goes for the Top Docs, however, with perhaps a bit higher level of respect. I grew up with a few docs, and even as kids, folks around them knew these were extraordinary people. With a penchant to learn, explore and to develop and achieve a higher purpose, each Top Doc has contributed remarkably and we’re honored to serve as the steward of this important program.
We’ve developed several recognition programs since acquiring Ingram’s in 1997 but have to admit, I have two favorites. Heroes in Healthcare (recognizing the unsung heroes serving on the front lines) and Top Doctors. But that doesn’t mean we were off and running smoothly at the start. I vividly remember putting a database together of 600 of the most prominent doctors in the region. The survey asked who they would seek help from if they or a loved one encountered a life-threatening illness.
Fantastic responses and nominations poured in for days, but we had a remarkably high percentage of doctors who nominated themselves. Surely, we worded the survey wrong. Ah—we’ll ask the area hospital CEOs and top administration. That was the week we learned much more about politics and self-interests and of the level of challenge we may encounter getting the Top Doctors program off the ground. I can tell this story this year as the CEOs from that era have wrapped up their careers.
We got through the first year or two and our early honorees didn’t want to see the prestige of this recognition diluted. We were off and running, and nominations continue today from those we consider the finest physicians in the region. I want to thank the many Top Doc alums as well as the medical community and hospital and practice group administrators who continue to nominate extraordinary physicians.
Like Ingram’s 40 Under Forty awards, I’m certain we’ve aggravated far more than we please, but we feel a calling to responsibly manage this program. We’re honored to serve the medical community in the way we do and have the utmost respect for the dedication of physicians and their teams that have dedicated their lives to helping, and often saving, the lives of others.
We Appreciate the Affiliation
On occasion, we’ll even share our list of past Top Doctors winners with readers trying to find a physician to treat their illnesses, or those of family members.
I received a call about a decade ago from folks at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society who asked me to serve as Santa for the families they serve during their holiday celebration. Many will remember Jeff Comment, who served as Santa at pediatric hospitals around the country. Friends probably though Jeff and I were a bit odd, talking about boots and belts, but we were bitten by the same bug to serve. The gal at LLS asked if I had the stamina to be Santa for 600 kids.
I can tell you that stamina has nothing to do with the conversation I’m having with a young child who just wants her family to be happy when she’s gone. Or the excitement of a toddler who wants to see Santa at the next Christmas party.
The reason I share the story is, there’s far more to being a great doctor than academics and research. Health is scary at every age, and I’ve been involved in enough discussions to have a strong opinion of the humanitarian effort associated with being a great well-rounded doc.
Because of the extensive research we do in making selections for Top Doctors and Heroes in Healthcare, we’ll periodically receive a call from a frantic family member, searching for help and advice
We know we have many readers and are the first to inform callers that we’re not qualified to make a recommendation involving a life-threatening health concern. We have, however, shared the list of Ingram’s Top Doctors a number of times when a call like this comes in. We may not know the best specialist in a given specialty, but with a network of about 220 extraordinary specialists around the region, we do not hesitate to provide this list and to connect these folks seeking help for their loved ones.
We work hard, like the Top Docs do, but can think of no better way to align with the finest physicians in the region than with this unique annual program. Please settle into a comfortable chair and enjoy some of the best stories about some of the finest souls in our community.