By adapting, doctors build healthy rural practice

Not every practice lets patients track mud into their pristine waiting room. But that's the nature of doing business in rural Benzonia, MI, where a group of entrepreneurial doctors have grown a healthy practice by embracing the lifestyles of the community it serves. Dr. Rick Nielsen, co-founder of the Crystal Lake Health Center, arrived in Benzonia in the mid-1980s. A nature lover who runs his own cattle ranch in his off hours, Dr. Nielsen wanted to create an accessible, responsive practice that met the area's needs while giving its doctors freedom to live full lives. The practice, which brought in $3.75 million last year, saw 21,000 people at its four locations, in part because its doctors and nurse practitioners make a point of offering same day appointments. To keep operations efficient, the partners invested an enviable $250,000 in administrative and electronic medical record software. Doctors there earn $130,000 to $160,000 per year, significantly less than they might in a big city, but also have more time to pursue their own interests, making it surprisingly easy to attract young up-and-coming physicians to the group.

Learn more about Dr. Nielsen's practice:
- read this article in The New York Times

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