Save lives and stomp out disease
Dr. Mike established this practice over 20 years ago to "save lives and stomp out disease," and explains why:
I did nursing as part of my pre-med education. It changed me in two ways, one way was hoped for, and the other was completely unexpected. I hoped to develop the compassionate bedside manner and communication skills of my nursing role models. I did not expect how ingrained being a patient advocate it made me and how important it is to me now as a physician.
To me, being a physician is a privilege. I was the first and only doctor in my family. I had the benefit of training at UCSF Medical School, UC Berkley for a Masters of Health in epidemiology, and rounded out my medical education with my family medicine residency at the University of Washington. My varied experience from San Francisco to Seattle in everything from infants to geriatrics prepared me to open this practice over 20 years ago.
After being in medicine for over 20 years, I know why I am still practicing medicine despite all the changes surrounding healthcare. I love being a healer, I love making a difference, I love the intellectual challenge of the diagnostic dilemma, and creativity of individualizing the treatment for the best outcome of my patient. This creativity is especially important for the sports medicine aspect of our practice. I am hugely into patient education for all of my patients, but particularly for my patients with sports injuries. Only by knowing what is wrong and how it can be improved can the athlete make the little changes that make such a big difference in a good outcome and future injury prevention.
My patients play a key role in the team approach we take in order to save lives and stomp out disease, not cater to insurance companies. My patients provide the agenda and we help figure out how to accomplish it. Coming from humble beginnings, I know cost is a significant factor in any decision. Each individual knows their values, comfort with risk, strengths, weaknesses, needs, and desires that only they can bring to the team approach of medicine. By following my patients’ agendas, the patient balances the potential costs versus the potential benefits instead of insurance companies.
Michael Orzechowski M.D. M.P.H. R.N.
I did my undergraduate work at University of California, Irvine, receiving a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Social Sciences in 1982. I also earned a nursing degree, A.D.N. from Golden West College, in Huntington Beach, California the same year. I went on to study at the University of California, San Francisco for my M.D., graduating in 1987. At the same time, I was studying at the University of California, Berkeley, achieving my M.P.H. in Epidemiology (the study of studies) in 1986. My residency was completed in 1990 at the University of Washington, Seattle. I’m Board Certified in Family Medicine and Sports Medicine, as well. Since moving to Alaska I’ve been involved in the community as the medical director for the Arctic Winter Games, the team doctor for the Anchorage Aces, as well as a physician for the Special Olympics.
I enjoy the intellectual challenge of the complex patient that other providers haven’t been able to help or figure out what is wrong with them. A common patient has diabetes, MS, mild depression, some muscle skeletal issues, and now new onset abdominal pain. I also love athletes. To me however, the definition of an athlete is anyone from a wannabe to an elite athlete as long as they are motivated to get back to their sport. I am especially excited to take care of an athlete who is interested in a nonsurgical solution to their injury.
I’ve personally take the same approach with my own health as I suggest for my patients. I am the weekend warrior, who, as much as I don’t like to admit it, I am not 25-year-old stud anymore. Sometimes I can push it too hard when I am planting my garden in the spring or trying to beat that whipper snapper at the Alaska State Fencing tournament. I find it necessary to practice what I preach. Yet, I am also the athlete because I expect and demand the compliance of myself in order to return to my sport, whether it’s fencing, hunting, fishing, or growing flowers for my daughter’s wedding this past July. The balance of being a family and sports medicine doctor is tamping down the flare ups while still keep up with life’s demands.