“Eau Claire is the right size. It’s one of the reasons I came back. I love this part of Wisconsin.”
For Nadine Nixon, MD (SMPH ’07, Eau Claire ’10), seven years of rural practice in northwest Wisconsin laid the groundwork for the next stage in her career: the newest member of the Eau Claire program’s teaching faculty at Prevea Health Family Medicine.
After earning her MD from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Dr. Nixon knew she wanted to stay in Wisconsin for family medicine residency. She was impressed by the Eau Claire program’s clinical facilities, including a patient simulation laboratory, located at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Health Education Center.
She also found the faculty and residents to be knowledgeable and supportive. “The whole environment—and the OB program in particular—was so positive,” she recalls.
Residency program director Joan Hamblin, MD, and now-retired medical director Dennis Breen, MD, were outstanding mentors. “Dr. Hamblin holds the bar high, but she shows you how to get there,” Dr. Nixon notes. “Dr. Breen was calm, level-headed and conscientious.” (Dr. Nixon helped nominate Dr. Breen for his 2009 DFMCH Faculty Excellence Award.)
After graduation, Dr. Nixon practiced at three Mayo Clinic Health System clinics in northwest Wisconsin: first in Rice Lake, then in Barron and finally in Cameron.
In each, she practiced full-spectrum family medicine with obstetrics. In Rice Lake, she also did some hospitalist work; in Barron, she provided occupational medicine to employees at the nearby Jennie-O® Turkey Store and cared for people from the community’s sizable Somali population.
The latter experience resonated with Dr. Nixon, who taught secondary school in Tanzania as a Peace Corps volunteer before medical school. Exchanging greetings in Swahili with those who had escaped Somalia through Kenya—where the language is commonly spoken—made patient encounters particularly meaningful. “I had an understanding not everyone would have,” she reflects.
“We need to foster and maintain compassion, and you can’t do that if you’re not doing it for yourself.”
—Eau Claire faculty Nadine Nixon, MD
‘Foster and Maintain Compassion’
Dr. Nixon joined the Eau Claire faculty at Prevea Health Family Medicine in September 2017, staffing residents, rounding in the hospital and seeing her own patients in clinic. She loves teaching residents motivational interviewing techniques and being a model of good health, so they can be the same for their patients.
She also oversees the program’s maternity and practice management curricula, explaining that practice management includes documentation, coding and billing—but also professionalism and work-life balance. Those are critical skills to master in residency, she says. “Doing it right from the beginning can really help in the long run, since burnout is such a huge problem.”
In her free time, she likes to visit the Boundary Waters and work in her garden. (She has a certificate from the UW–Extension Master Gardener Program in Barron.) Living and working in Eau Claire makes it possible to have those outlets.
“We need to foster and maintain compassion, and you can’t do that if you’re not doing it for yourself,” she says. “We need to talk about it and help each other.”
Published: November 2018