New doctor talks about working in a rural hospital

News editor

Dr. Paige Hatcher arrived at St. Luke Physician Clinic in October, and with a couple of months under her belt, she doesn’t have to think about what has surprised her the most.

“People are sicker than I expected,” she said.

She sees many patients with a variety of ailments — not a “sleepy little town.” That makes the job both challenging and rewarding, Hatcher said. It also makes her work interesting.

“I tell people, ‘It’s not good to be interesting to doctors,’” Hatcher said.

Hatcher took the job in Marion after working in Portland, Ore., since completing medical school at the University of Kansas in 2009. She completed her residency at a large teaching hospital, then worked at a “safety net” clinic for the uninsured.

Her specialties are in family and preventive medicine. She also has a master’s degree in public health. Hatcher sees patients at St. Luke Physician Clinic four days a week and takes emergency room call at St. Luke Hospital.

She thinks the match with St. Luke is good for both sides.

“It’s great. I’m happy,” Hatcher said. “I wanted a small community, close to my family, where I could do all kinds of medicine.”

Hatcher grew up in Haven, where her mother ran a clinic and her stepfather was a paramedic on the ambulance crew.

“I grew up with people showing up at our doorstep,” she said. “I was hanging out with my mom at the hospital from the time I was 12.”

Despite that background, she fought her inclination to go into the medical field when she first went to Wichita State University. She wanted to be a band director, but her friends and mentors urged her to enter the pre-med program.

Not wanting to give up her musical interest, she worked with the Woodland United Methodist Church choir in Wichita to pay her way through school. She has also gotten involved with church music since arriving in Marion.

Hatcher also bought a house on the south edge of Marion, and she plans to grow a massive garden in the spring, provided deer don’t eat all of her plants. She said there are usually a dozen deer in her yard any given evening.

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