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St. Cloud Medical Group

Julie Anderson
St. Cloud Medical Group

Class of 2012

When Dr. Julie Anderson was selected as a 5 Under 40 winner, she was president of the Minnesota Academy for Family Physicians.

What are you doing now?

I continue to see patients at St. Cloud Medical Group. Recently, I became certified in ImPACT testing and started concussion management at our organization. I am also active in the American Academy of Family Physicians, where I serve on the foundation board and represent Minnesota at our Congress of Delegates.

How did the 5 Under 40 award affect your life?

It was a great honor to be recognized for the award. I still have patients that congratulate me and say they "saw me in the paper." I have enjoyed working with the Times on various health-related articles, which allow me to connect with a greater audience about improving the health of our community.

Other big changes since you received the award?

I was recently recognized as one of the top three general practice physicians in the Best of Central Minnesota. I am involved in the Project BrainSafe initiative to develop a coordinated community effort to better manage concussions, and attended the State of the Union in response to concerns about health law impact on a patient.

What will make the St. Cloud area greater in coming years?

Our community is great because of the ingenuity of its people. We will continue to do well if we cultivate, support and inspire leaders. No matter what we have achieved, it will always be merely relative to what we can become. I look forward to specifically realizing better collaboration within our health care community.

2012 Interview

Originally ran: January 6, 2013

Julie Anderson's roots are out west. She grew up in Berthoud, Colo., and graduated from the University of Colorado-Boulder.

After college, she spent a year with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, working for one of many people who collaborated in winning a Nobel Prize with Al Gore. Anderson's job was to travel to various states and collect samples of nitrogen gas, then analyze those samples for months at a time.

But she decided she wanted a more people-focused career, so she came to the University of Minnesota Medical School to become a doctor, graduating as president of her class. She came to St. Cloud in 2004, and the St. Cloud Medical Group and her patients are glad she decided to look beyond the lab.

What influential factor led you to your current career?

"I've wanted to be a doctor since I was about 4. There was never any question what I was going to do in life. That was always my path. I recall seeing my family doctor when I was a child and, at that point, there weren't very many women in the profession. I remember him saying, 'This is something you can do if you want to.' ... In college, I worked at a chemistry lab. I ran the analyzers and that opened my eyes to the fact that I'm more of a people person. I'd say 75-80 percent of our job as a physician is to communicate. That art is something I've enjoyed, and that's probably why I'm a family physician instead of like my husband, who is an eye surgeon. It takes detail to do what I do, but it's a whole-person approach — often a whole-family approach."

What is the best part of your work day?

"The interaction with the patients. It's not even about the medical part. It's more about the social, overall health part. You'll hear a story, maybe they've had the loss of a friend or a pet or something. It's a small piece of my day, but it might be a huge deal for that person. Just to be able to share in stories that are close to the hearts of people is very special. It's also important to me to know that we've made a difference ... Hopefully, I can form a cultural bond with them. I don't deliver babies anymore, but I'm seeing children that are 6 or 7 years old that I've delivered and I'm still seeing their moms or their families. That's what family practice is all about."

What is your most important extra-curricular activity and why?

"I'm not as involved anymore, but when I was active with the Children's Day Montessori preschool, that gave me the most challenge and reward. When I started to be on the board, they were struggling on many levels. Their director was retiring and we needed to find a new director. We had to correct their financial portfolio and figure novel ways to keep up with the times. To see that grow and see their director running the show now, it's in the hands of the people who should be running it. ... I was just there to help think about solutions to problems. That was a big learning experience for me, working with a nonprofit and a smaller organization ... I still serve as their medical person, overseeing the paperwork on immunizations and that sort of thing. That's not something a medical doctor usually does, but I don't mind. It's fun to see how things are going."

How do you continue to learn new skills that will keep you on the cutting edge of your business?

"First of all, when you're in a private group, you have to search out new technologies and medicines and training. There's no one else to do it. ... Medicine is constantly changing with technology and regulations. That's a constantly moving target. Patients are demanding of us to be technologically savvy — maybe not the older folks who don't carry a smartphone around. But the younger population, for sure, is expecting that. Our practice had adapted to allow online interaction. It's no different from them picking up a phone and calling. There are so many regulations about how you can communicate online in a secure fashion, but many patients love that service. ... We also started e-visits a little more than a year ago where my partner and I do actual office visits with patients. We started with simple things like colds, red-eye, a rash — people could take a picture and send it to me and I could look at it. It's not different from what we were doing on the phone sometimes, but this is a way to have it better documented and have the service paid for by insurance. We're now opening it to other providers and allowing patients to have a follow-up for their blood pressure or depression. It's difficult for people to get in to the clinic. They're working and busy and hopefully it makes their lives easier."

How do you see the greater St. Cloud area in 20 years and what would your role be in it?

"I would hope there is greater connection, connectivity between clinics, hospitals and even community centers like nursing homes. With our aging population, we're going to need to adapt and stretch ourselves to work as a team. That's going to be real important for the health of our population, to make sure there are not pitfalls where people can slip through the cracks. We also need to make sure we're not recreating the wheel with patients. Sometimes they get an MRI here and there because we're not communicating. That drives up health care costs and, hopefully, at some point, I'd like to have that connectivity where we can share information in a secure fashion with the hospital. I think our patients want that ... I think this is part of the reason I'm active in the state academy of physicians. They have a knowledge of how things are across the state and we do things that might be different in St. Cloud. To hear what's going on in other communities helps you glean things we can apply to this community."

Age: 38.

Family: Husband, Brad; they have two sons, ages 9 and 7.

Education: University of Colorado-Boulder and University of Minnesota Medical School.

FYI: As president of the Minnesota Academy for Family Physicians, which represents more than 3,000 doctors in the state, she frequently speaks with legislators about health care reform. She has worked with Community Build with Habitat for Humanity and is a regular speaker at women's health events.

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