- Policy & Research
- About KHI
April 15, 2009
Bio: Drs. Doug and Shelly Gruenbacher planned to move to a small town to practice after graduating from the University of Kansas Medical School in 2002.
Both are from small towns — Doug, 36, is from Andale in central Kansas; Shelly, 35, is from Stockton in northwest Kansas.
While enrolled in the Smoky Hill Family Medicine Residency Program in Salina, both traveled to Quinter as part of a program that places residents in small towns with established physicians.
They both felt comfortable in the town and liked the physicians’ relationships with the hospital and community. When they decided to move to the northwest Kansas town of about 1,000, they negotiated a situation that allowed them to share a position in an existing practice.
“It was a model practice in terms of what we were looking for and what we wanted,” Doug Gruenbacher said. “As a couple, we wanted to be able to work somewhat less than full-time and raise a family. We weren’t interested in working an 80-hour-plus week.”
Now, each works about three days a week. They have their own patients but cover for one other. When one is working the other is home with their four young children Evelyn, 7; Eli, 5; Ethan, 3 and Ella, 4 months.
They’ve each been trained in multiple procedures but are able to split them up according to their personal preferences. For example, Shelly Gruenbacher tends to do more gynecological procedures; Doug Gruenbacher does more colonoscopies.
“Our practice is full-spectrum family medicine, from the cradle to the grave,” Shelly Gruenbacher said.
Practice in a small, rural community is not for everyone, they said.
“We’re both from small towns,” Shelly Gruenbacher said. “It’s not the same if you’re used to having a Starbucks down the road or are used to going to Target or the mall.”
Communities trying to attract young new physicians to put down roots should also look at recruiting other young professionals, such as lawyers, nurses and teachers, Shelly Gruenbacher said, to create thriving communities and groups that can better relate to each other.
“The lifestyle thing is huge,” Shelly Gruenbacher said. “I think it scares people away from rural communities.”
“It’s good to have a place with good schools. Quinter is a good place to live and raise a family,” Doug Gruenbacher said. “This is good for us, but we know it might not be for everyone. But it is good for our family.”
Interconnects: Both physicians are active with the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians and also participate in 4-H in Quinter. They teach catechism classes at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, in nearby Park.
Phone: (785) 754-3333
Mail: Bluestem Medical LLP, 501 Garfield St., Quinter, KS 67752