CONTACT: DAVE PEDERSON
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax(319) 335-8034
Release: Aug. 23, 2000
UI Family Practice Opportunities Fair set for Aug. 26 in Des Moines
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Albert Kollasch, M.D., has practiced family medicine
in the north central Iowa town of Belmond since 1978. His decision to start
a medical career in a small, rural community was based partly on the encouragement
of a medical school classmate who was a Belmond native. Equally important,
however, was his participation in the Family Practice Opportunities Fair,
an annual event that brings together physicians and physician assistants (PAs)
with Iowa communities looking for additional health care practitioners.
The University of Iowa College of Medicine and the Iowa Family Practice
Residents Council will host this year's fair from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug.
26 at the Polk County Convention Center in Des Moines. Hospitals and medical
clinics from more than 40 Iowa communities will present information and exhibits
to approximately 75 medical residents and 20 physician assistants training
in Iowa. This is the 24th year that the UI has organized the event.
Kollasch, a 1975 graduate of the UI College of Medicine, made his professional
"connection" to Belmond while at the opportunities fair. He joined
the Steele Memorial Clinic -- now known as the Belmond Medical Center -- in
1978, following his family practice residency at the UI.
"I attended the very first opportunities fair in 1977," Kollasch
said. "It was, and still is, an effective way to bring family practice
residents and communities face to face. It worked for me."
Glen Gabrielson, M.D., was Kollasch's UI medical school classmate who encouraged
him to consider Belmond. In fact, it was Gabrielson who provided the impetus
for establishing the opportunities fair back in the 1970s, according to Roger
Tracy, UI College of Medicine assistant dean and director of the college's
Office of Statewide Clinical Education Programs.
"He had stopped into our office after a long weekend driving around
southeast Iowa with his wife looking for a community where he might want to
practice," Tracy remembered. "Basically, Glen said, 'there must
be an easier way to find a place to practice and talk to medical professionals
from communities that had a need for a physician. From that simple conversation
came the idea for an event like this to bring physicians and communities together."
The statewide family practice training program and long-term efforts to
attract more family physicians and PAs into Iowa communities are working better
than expected, Tracy noted. Again this year, more than 70 percent of the family
practice residency graduates stayed in Iowa to practice, and "they are
going to the right places," he said.
"Out of 336 family doctors entering Iowa practices during the past
three years, one third went to towns with populations under 5,000," Tracy
said. "Raise the population threshold to 15,000 and you capture nearly
60 percent of Iowa's new family physicians for that period."
Serendipity played a part in the professional future of Ted Bonebreak, M.D.,
now a family physician at Creston Medical Clinic in southwest Iowa. He and
his wife first attended the fair in 1997 when he was a first-year family practice
resident. After attending information seminars in the morning along with other
residents and PAs, the Bonebreaks were a bit late in getting to the event's
"The only table at the luncheon that still had a couple of seats available
just happened to be the one where three representatives from the Creston clinic
were sitting," Bonebreak said. "I had only just begun my three-year
family practice residency, so I wasn't seriously considering places to practice.
But my wife and I had a nice conversation with these people over lunch, and
that's how it got started."
The Bonebreaks were so impressed with the Creston Medical Clinic, and vice-versa,
that he made sure to visit the clinic's informational booth at the fair in
"That's the point where we really started talking seriously,"
Bonebreak said. He signed his contract in 1999 and, after completing his residency
last June, began seeing patients at the Creston Medical Clinic this month.
When Ann Reid graduated from the UI Physician Assistant (PA) Program three
years ago, she knew she'd want to work in a small, rural community, yet still
be a reasonable distance from her and her husband's farm in rural Onslow.
Reid attended the fair in 1996. There she met with recruiters from Medical
Associates of Dubuque. It was during this discussion that the practice's representatives
learned that Reid lived close to Cascade, which was being considered as a
site for a Dubuque satellite clinic.
"Actually, the folks in Dubuque weren't looking to hire a PA, but we
kept talking and I happened to mention that I lived just south of Cascade.
That's when the bells started going off," Reid said.
As a result, plans went ahead for what would become the Cascade Health Center.
After finishing the PA program at the UI in 1997, Reid practiced in Dubuque
for a year while a medical facility in Cascade was being built. She was the
sole practitioner treating patients in the Cascade area until three weeks
ago, when a physician also joined the clinic.
"I really like practicing here," Reid said. "You get to know
everybody. I've always been a 'small town' person and I enjoy living this
way. The opportunities fair helped make this happen."
For family physician David Tinker, D.O., the bottom line is, "if it
wasn't for the fair I wouldn't be in West Union." Tinker completed his
family practice residency at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines last
June and joined the Gunderson Clinic in West Union in northeast Iowa. "My
wife and I were totally unaware of this job possibility until we arrived at
Tinker and his wife, a PA herself, were both interested in employment opportunities.
While at the fair, they learned that a colleague from her PA program, as well
as a physician that Tinker knew from his residency program at Broadlawns,
both practiced at the Gunderson Clinic. Such personal connections helped make
"It's worked out great," Tinker said. "Both professionally
and personally, it's been a great situation coming to West Union."
While the Family Practice Opportunities Fair benefits physicians and PAs
by efficiently featuring practice opportunities, it also gives Iowa communities
a chance to meet a large number of future practitioners.
"We've had a very good experience at the Opportunities Fair. We've
been there most of the past 10 years," said David Carlson, M.D., a physician
and medical director of the Burlington Area Family Practice Center. "We've
recruited several physicians directly from the fair. Actually, we have one
physician who just started this week who we first met at the fair at the beginning
of his second year of his family practice residency and again in his third
year of residency. So the fair has indeed paid off for us."
Carlson noted that the fair also provides an opportunity for medical professionals
to learn more about what's happening in the marketplace for family practice
and to network with colleagues. "It's a very well organized event with
a lot of helpful information, but it is also about promoting opportunities
in Iowa, which ultimately benefits patients in Iowa," he said.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the
UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care,
medical education and research programs and services they provide.