Courting doctors: Physician recruitment in full swing


After a long dry spell, the dam seems to have broken for doctor recruitment at Powell Valley Healthcare.



An emergency room doctor signed a contract recently and will start in September. PVHC has 11 doctors on staff now but one is departing soon.

In addition, it has two anesthesia specialists and two physician’s assistants.

The OBGYN specialists are needed to replace Dr. Roger Brecheen and Dr. Karla Wagner, both of whom alternated duty every other week while living in other Wyoming communities — Dr. Brecheen in the Jackson area and Dr. Wagner in Lander. Brecheen worked one week, and Wagner the next.

Both were unhappy with the arrangement and chose not to renew their contracts, Patten said. Brecheen left in June; Wagner will leave in August.

In addition, an ongoing search for a second orthopedic surgeon to practice here was set aside for a time. That search now is active once more.

Patten said he is hopeful that a contract will be signed this week.

More recently, Dr. Terry Reisner, a family practice physician, returned to Idaho, and Dr. Betsy Spomer, also in family practice, announced plans to resign this month.

A family medicine physician from Colorado is working to get a license in Wyoming, and Powell Valley Healthcare leaders plan to bring her onsite for an interview soon, Patten said.

She has family in the Big Horn Basin and wants to live in Powell. She is reviewing a contract.

Gilmore said another doctor, currently filling in at the ER as a locum, interviewed with Powell Valley Healthcare a few years ago for a family practice vacancy, but declined because he wanted to work in the ER.

Patten said Powell Valley Healthcare is looking to recruit two hospitalists — physicians who care for patients while they’re in the hospital.

Right now, if a nurse needs to consult or advise a primary care physician about an in-patient’s condition, the nurse has to interrupt the doctor in the clinic, Patten said.

A hospitalist is similar to an ER doctor, in that he or she is on call and available at the hospital at any time, he said.

“Nurses love hospitalists; after they get used to it, patients do, too,” Patten said. “It’s also a quality-of-life thing for primary care docs; their days are more predictable. It’s a win-win-win.”

A hospitalist has expressed interest in joining Powell Valley Healthcare and has applied for a Wyoming medical license. He interviewed in January, but hadn’t decided then whether to take the job. Since then, the interview process has changed.

“Now we want him to go through a new interview,” Gilmore said.

“They’ve really stepped up to the plate,” he said. “Instead of saying, ‘Who can we get?’ they’re now saying, ‘Who will have the privilege of joining us?’

“Some doctors are saying they’ve never been interviewed like this before.”