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Five Stucky family members address rural doctor shortage through family medicine residency program

December 16, 2020

Stucky brothers
Pictured from left to right are Bryan Stucky, M.D.; Brandon Stucky, M.D.; Blake Stucky, M.D.; and Brad Stucky, D.O. (Brandon Stucky photo)

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

Four Kansas brothers, along with one of their spouses, are putting the "family" in family practice medicine.

And as each has finished residency with the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita family medicine residency program at Ascension Via Christi, they've returned to their hometown in rural southwestern Kansas to care for their neighbors, former teachers, the elderly who saw them grow up and others to meet a critical need for providing health care in the region.

In September, Brandon Stucky, M.D., joined his two older brothers - Bryan Stucky, M.D., and Brad Stucky, D.O. - at the Plaza Medical Center practice in Garden City. Bryan was the first Dr. Stucky to return to Garden City in 2012, and then Brad came back in 2017.

In 2018, Racquel Stucky, D.O., who is married to Brad, began practicing medicine at Genesis Family Health in Garden City, helping expand the maternal health services offered at the federally qualified health center. Originally from the East Coast, Racquel has found a home in her husband's hometown.

"The diversity we have in this city is amazing," said Racquel, who like her other co-workers is bilingual in Spanish.

Garden City, with a population of nearly 27,000, is home to people of more than 35 countries, according to Data USA, a website that compiles public U.S. government data.

"It's a nice place to put down roots," said Racquel. She and Brad met while medical students at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine.

It's possible the community may gain a fifth Dr. Stucky.

Youngest brother Blake Stucky, M.D., who started his residency in 2020, is already on the radar of recruiter Stephanie Waggoner, the Kansas regional director of operations for Centura Health, the parent system of Plaza Medical, who has had conversations about him joining his brothers.

"I would love the opportunity to go back, but I have three years of residency left and I want to keep my options open," said Blake, noting that his path, however, has been to follow his brothers into the same residency program.

The family business

It's not too surprising to KU School of Medicine-Wichita faculty member Donald Seery, M.D., that the Stuckys have returned to their hometown to help combat the shortage of physicians in rural Kansas.

"The Stuckys are true servant-oriented physicians, and the patients feel that," Seery said.

Seery thinks the fact the Stuckys grew up in a blue-collar family helps them connect with their patients. The Stuckys' parents are former educators, and the brothers' dad has spent decades building homes in and around Garden City.

"We had great parents who have always been supportive and never pushed us in any way into the medical field," said Blake.

"Their work ethic did shape our lives," Brandon said. Dad influenced them to work hard to do your best for yourself and the people you serve, he said, while mom is the "feeler" and her heart for others has been a driving factor."

In a previous interview for a KU School of Medicine-Wichita story, Bryan, the oldest, traced his medical interest to third grade, when he read about the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head.

Family traits among the brothers run deep.

"We have similar personalities so that's probably why we all ended up in the same field," Blake said.

Brandon echoed that sentiment: "We're kind of unique in that we share similar interests in lots of aspects of life. We've always had that closeness with each other."

The brothers also share a love for outdoor activities, like riding dirt bikes and Jeeps together. In August, the brothers and their dad had a guys-only dirt-bike trip, Blake said.

Tara Neil, M.D., a KU School of Medicine-Wichita faculty member who was Racquel's adviser, said Racquel fits in well with the Stucky family.

"They all have a sense of maturity, dedication and self-improvement that's really impressive. As an educator, it's also been great to know they have wanted to stay in Kansas," Neil said.

While Brandon kept his options open to practicing elsewhere, he said his choice to return to Garden City came down to a sentiment he shares with his brothers.

"We all love our hometown and there is a definite need for doctors around here," Brandon said.

Sticking close to home motivated Brandon's decision to do his residency at KU School of Medicine-Wichita, where he also received his medical degree. As he interviewed with other residency programs, he was often reminded about the quality of the Ascension Via Christi program.

"It became obvious that great training was in my backyard," Brandon said. Plus, it kept him within a 3 1/2 hour drive of Garden City.

Impact on health care

Officials with both Centura and Genesis Health said being able to tap into homegrown talent has not only made recruitment easier, but it's also impacted the service they can provide to patients in the area.

"If you don't grow up here and appreciate the things that southwestern Kansas has to offer, it can be a hard sell" to attract physicians, said Jessica Ardery, Genesis' chief operating officer.

With the addition of Racquel to its medical staff in fall 2018, Genesis Family Health started offering delivery services to the area's expectant moms. Since delivering the health center's first baby in December 2018, Racquel has delivered more than 120 babies.

Over 230 of the more than 4,100 face-to-face services Racquel has provided have involved deliveries or postpartum care, Ardery noted. Many of Genesis' patients are under- or uninsured patients, and several are Spanish-only speakers.

Genesis' patient demographic is exactly the kind of patients Racquel has wanted to serve.

"That's where my heart has been," said Racquel, whose family includes medical professionals. Her mother is a physical therapist while both of her grandmothers served as nurses during World War II.

Waggoner, the Centura recruiter, credits now-retired Thomas Koksal, M.D., a KU School of Medicine-Wichita alumnus, with being instrumental in helping bring back the Stuckys to Garden City. He had recruited Bryan and Brad to his private practice, which Centura later acquired.
Adding Brandon has also helped Plaza Medical add new patients, she said.

"It can be difficult for new patients to be seen if the other providers already have full patient panels," she said. Plaza Medical recently added an eighth provider - another southwestern Kansas native - to its Garden City clinic. Internist Trinity Vallejo, M.D., is also a KU medical school graduate, having attended the Salina campus.

The Stuckys have also made an impact on the Wichita patients they served during residency.

"We have a panel of patients who have been handed down through three of the Stuckys," said Neil, with the Ascension Via Christi family medicine residency program. After Blake leaves the program, "they're going to have Dr. Stucky withdrawal."

KU School of Medicine-Wichita
Last modified: Jan 14, 2021
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KU School of Medicine–Wichita
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Wichita, KS, 67214

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