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<p>The fab five&hellip;the fearless five&hellip;the faithful five. This group of five Methodist ED physicians will answer any call&mdash;and this year, they&rsquo;re celebrating 20 years of service in the IU Health Methodist Hospital Emergency Department. Bart Besinger, MD, Christian Strachan, MD, Julie Welch, MD, Edward Bartkus, MD, and Christopher Weaver, MD, recently answered some questions about what attracted them to a career in emergency medicine, the rewards of working in Methodist&rsquo;s Level I Trauma Center and their most memorable moments from the past 20 years. <span></span></p>

Methodist ED Physicians Reflect on 20 Years of Impactful Service

The fab five…the fearless five…the faithful five. This group of five Methodist ED physicians will answer any call—and this year, they’re celebrating 20 years of service in the IU Health Methodist Hospital Emergency Department. Bart Besinger, MDChristian Strachan, MDJulie Welch, MDEdward Bartkus, MD, and Christopher Weaver, MD , recently answered some questions about what attracted them to a career in emergency medicine, the rewards of working in Methodist’s Level I Trauma Center and their most memorable moments from the past 20 years.

What inspired you to become a doctor – and to specialize in emergency medicine?

Dr. Besinger: There were many reasons; most of them probably not much different than anyone else's, but one story stands out. When I was 14, I was cutting up some brush with my grandpa and my chainsaw kicked back and gouged my left thigh. My grandpa put me in his pickup and took me to our family doctor, who had a back door in his office for such emergencies. He saw me right away and took care of the wound. That same doctor had delivered me 14 years earlier. He took care of my whole family, old and young, outpatient and inpatient. I knew I wanted to be that kind of doctor—one who saw it all and did it all. By the time I was in medical school, it was clear to me that doctors like that worked in the emergency department.

Dr. Strachan: I always loved the idea of emergency medicine even before I rotated in medical school. I knew the very first day on my medical school rotation that I was destined to be an EM physician. I appreciate a specialty in which you must have a wealth of knowledge about every discipline. I also chose Methodist as a residency because it was one of the three residencies at the time that offered EM/Peds as a combined residency.

Dr. Welch: My inspiration to become a doctor came from my grandmother, who was a missionary nurse in the Philippines after World War II. She used to tell me stories of her clinic and the patients she cared for. Her stories planted the seeds that led me to medical school and eventually into emergency medicine—a specialty that allows me to care for a breadth of patients.

Dr. Bartkus: I wanted to have a stronger educational and experiential base from which to teach. When I was instructing paramedics, they would frequently ask me questions and I didn’t know the answer. Now I can tell them with veracity that “the literature’s unclear on that.”

Dr. Weaver: I can't say I had a deep “inspiration” to become a doctor. As long as I can remember, my parents talked about my older brother becoming a lawyer and me a doctor (because of our varying comfort with blood, etc.)—and so we did. Emergency medicine attracted me for many of the same reasons as most in EM would list—the variety and the people, both coworkers and patients.


What do you find most rewarding about your work in the Methodist ED?

Dr. Besinger: I enjoy that through teaching, I’m impacting the care of future patients.

Dr. Strachan: I enjoy being at a quaternary referral center for the state, associated with an outstanding EM residency. I appreciate that we serve to help not only our own patients but those without the resources that we have in this ED.

Dr. Welch: The Methodist Emergency Department offers so many rewards—from my amazing colleagues and the teamwork environment to the privilege of serving as a quaternary referral center for Indiana. What I find most rewarding is the ability of the ED team to pull together every shift and provide excellent care to our patients.

Dr. Bartkus: I enjoy the incredibly varied case mix and high acuity; it’s wonderful fodder for EMS and resident case studies. I have an opportunity to interact with people I would never otherwise encounter in life, and they have fascinating stories.

Dr. Weaver: The most rewarding aspects are centered around the people. We see people at some of the worst times of their lives and being able to offer as much help and comfort in those times is what keeps me coming back. I'd also say that as I've moved into more administrative aspects of medicine, my time in the ED keeps me grounded in what matters the most and shines a bright light on when things are working and when they are not. 


What has kept you at Methodist for so many years?

Dr. Besinger: Why would I be anywhere else? It's the place with the best people and patients.

Dr. Strachan: It’s where I started my residency (even before we were a Dept of EM)! I love the people, the support we give each other and the complexity of care that we render. I also love the teaching we provide to the residents and student learners we supervise. It’s a collective effort to achieve success, and I attribute so much to the other aspects of care provided by nursing, pharmacy and all the ancillary services.

Dr. Welch: The camaraderie we develop as an ED team and the trust our patients have in us to deliver outstanding care has kept me loyal to Methodist for the past 20 years. I cannot imagine a better career.

Dr. Bartkus: The staff. I have had the privilege of working with colleagues who are bright, kind and selfless. They truly put patients and each other before their own needs. Time after time, I have seen the nurses rise up and not only tolerate but excel with a workload that would otherwise be untenable. The teamwork between all the providers—all the way up to the environmental services people—has been something I will talk about for many years to come. I wake up smiling every morning—there is no better vocation.

Dr. Weaver: This is an easy one for me, and it comes back to the coworkers, leaders, mentors and friends we work with. We have had several tough losses over the last couple of years, and it’s always amazing to see this group of people rise to the occasion each and every time there is a challenge.  


As you reflect on 20 years at Methodist, what are some of the memories or personal experiences that stand out?

Dr. Strachan: Coming together in triumph and sorrow. I love that our team is willing to step up and help whenever the call arrives. The support from the team is immense across IU EM and a large part of the reason for why practice here! I appreciate each and every one of my colleagues more than they will ever know. 

Dr. Welch: I can recall vivid memories of working with and being mentored by outstanding Methodist physicians—many of whom are the cornerstones who built emergency medicine as we know it at Methodist. (Dr. S. Combs, Dr. C. Chisholm, Dr. K. Rodgers, Dr. C. Shufflebarger, Dr. CT Fletcher, Dr. B. Cordell, Dr. H. Bock, Dr. G. Rodman, Dr. J. Goodman). I learned valuable lessons from each of them and carry their legacy forward into my own patient interactions and bedside teaching.

Dr. Bartkus: During the early years, there were nights when not only were there no patients in the waiting room, but there were also no patients in the entire ED for 2-3 hours! The many times over the years that I have responded to “Need all healthcare personnel to bed 7.” Initially worried, it actually meant that we were taking a picture of the entire staff when one of us moved on. We have been the stepping stone for a great many wonderful people in this world. They have new jobs and new professions because of the patients they met and cared for at Methodist—and the education we provided.

Dr. Weaver: I couldn't pick out individual memories or experiences. I've learned, grown, changed and been raised by this place and the people through tough times, as well as great times. I cherish and am thankful for all of it. 


The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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