October 22, 2017

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Making His Mark on Marshall: Dr. Steven Meister on Serving His Patients and the Marshall Community

Meister at city councilFrom the Iron Range of Northern Minnesota to the beaches of Guam, ACMC’s Dr. Steven Meister has lived many places during his life. But when it came time to find a home for his family and medical practice, Dr. Meister knew there was no better place than Marshall, Minnesota.

Now, after spending over a decade in Southwest Minnesota, he’s found many ways to give back to the community that has given him so much.

In 1995, Dr. Meister got his first taste of the Marshall community during his Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP) rotation. As a third-year medical student at the University of Minnesota, he spent his time as an “apprentice” with Dr. William Kaczrowski. “He taught me a ton,” Dr. Meister remembered. “I got to see all sort of things that I had never seen before.”

With less restrictions for medical students at the time, Dr. Meister got to work hands on with patients and provide care plan recommendations. He even delivered not one, but more than one hundred babies during his time in Marshall as a medical student.

“When I started my Obstetrics rotation in residency in medical school they asked the students who had delivered a baby,” he recalled. “Of the six residents, most people said they had only observed or delivered one or two, so I felt very fortunate to get the opportunities that I did as an RPAP student.”

As a member of the United States Navy, Dr. Meister completed his residency at the Naval Hospital of Camp Pendleton in California. Continuing his duty, Dr. Meister and his family then moved to Guam, where he served as the head of the Family Medicine department for Guam’s Naval hospital.

With two young children and an impending war overseas, Dr. Meister transitioned out of the Navy after 7 years of service and set out to start his first civilian medical practice.  “There were a lot of reasons I decided to leave the Navy,” he said. “I wanted stability for my family since moving every three years can be hard on kids. And with the war in Iraq and Iran, I knew at some point I would be deployed and I wasn’t looking forward to leaving them behind.”

Dr. Meister and his family made the decision to return to Marshall in 2003. With his wife’s family in Iowa and his in Northern Minnesota, Marshall was the ideal central location that they felt fit their family’s needs. “We were so familiar with the community after my RPAP rotation,” Dr. Meister said. “We enjoyed the fact that its rural so it’s less hustle and bustle, it was a great place to raise a family, and we really liked the people we met.”

Building his practice at ACMC, Dr. Meister was excited that he could include all his interest areas. In addition to his full-scope Family Medicine practice, he also performs colonoscopies in the Marshall Surgery Center and serves on the ACMC leadership team. “I have a lot of flexibility and variety, when you work for bigger health care systems you don’t always get that,” he explained. 

According to Dr. Meister, this flexibility makes his job interesting, with new challenges and opportunities each day. “Every patient and every experience is so different,” he said. “I am always jumping from one set of circumstances to the next and I have to be prepared for anything, at any time. There is never a dull day in the clinic.”

With an interest in growing into a leadership position within the clinic, Dr. Meister also achieved his Masters of Business degree from the University of Thomas in 2012. “Going back to school was great for me because health care is rapidly changing and there is a lot of business aspects that we, as doctors, aren’t trained for,” Dr. Meister said. “Personally and professionally, I am hoping to continue to move towards an administrative role and help our organization as I move into that role.”

This desire to continue gaining experience and helping those around him also led Dr. Meister into a new adventure recently as a Marshall City Councilmember. “When you are living in a town, and you are invested in that town, you can either watch things happen and complain or you can do something about it,” Dr. Meister explained. “So, I decided I wanted to try to better the community for my kids and grow Marshall to be the best town that we can be.”

As a transplanted citizen of Marshall, Dr. Meister was surprised and excited that he was elected by the community. He believes the insight that he has gained from living in different communities will be beneficial to helping him make decisions.

“I think if are born and raised in a city you can become almost ethnocentric. It’s the only thing you have ever known, so it’s hard to see all the sides of an issue,” Dr. Meister said. “When you have seen so many different places and different ways to handle situations, the pros and cons, the goods and bads, it can give you a much better feel for how to manage things.”

Since serving on the council, Dr. Meister describes his experience thus far as eye-opening. “Coming into the city council and doing the business of the city, you realize that there is a lot that goes on through many levels. It’s a pretty integral system.”

Dr. Meister also believes his career as a physician is helpful in his duties as a councilmember, allowing him to meet and hear from people in the community. “As a doctor, people know who you are and they feel comfortable talking with you especially about their concerns,” Dr. Meister said.

Since returning to Marshall, Dr. Meister has many roles: husband, father of three, doctor, ACMC leadership team member, city councilmember, among others. But despite his busy schedule and endless tasks, he says he wouldn’t have it any other way.