Episode 104: Dr. Leslie Surbeck, Dr. Shary Vang and Dr. Anita MacDonald of Evergreen Primary Care

Direct Primary Care Doctors

The Co-Founders at Evergreen Primary Care
(L to R) Dr. Vang, Dr. Surbeck & Dr. MacDonald

Dr. Leslie Surbeck graduated from Undergraduate at Bryn Mawr College in 1997 and then went to Medical School at University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, where she graduated in 2004.She completed her Residency at Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN in 2007 then served as Chief Resident from 2007-2008. After resiedncy, she served as a Staff Hospitalist at Hennepin County Medical Center and Hudson Hospital from 2008-2011and then became a Primary Care Physician at HealthPartners from 2011-2020.

She loves learning about each unique person and working together with her patients to find solutions that fit. She tries to approach every clinical situation with humility and an open mind and believes the practice of medicine should be evidence-based but never one-size-fits-all.

Her Interests outside of medicine: spending time with her partner and our two daughters, gardening, and long walks.

Dr. Shary Vang graduated from University of Minnesota in 2003 then attended Medical School at University of Minnesota, Minneapolis where she graduated in 2007. She completed residency at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, MN beween 2007-2010 and served as Chief Resident from 2010-2011. She then went on to serve as Physician & Director for HealthPartners Center for International Health 2011-2021.

She is the proud daughter of Hmong refugees and her philosophy as a physician is simple: provide a space for patients to be heard, treat everyone like family, and provide the best care she knows how. Her medical interests include: Diabetes, Hypertension, Stroke, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Piriformis Syndrome, ADHD, complex medical care, Refugee/Immigrant Health

Outside of medicine she enjoys spending time with her husband, 3 children and their large extended family. She loves listening to podcasts including favorite are Terrible, Thanks for Asking, Unlocking Us with Brene Brown, Criminal, Heavyweight, and Where Should We Begin with Esther Perel. She is an avid pickleball player and supporter of her husband’s pickleball company, PikNinja Sports.

Dr. Anita MacDonald attended undergrad at Amherst College and graduated from Medical School at Case Western Reserve University in OH in 1997.

She completed her Residency at Forbes Family Practice in PA in 2000.

Prior to DPC, she was a Primary Care Physician at HealthPartners Health Center for Women from 2004-2020 and then served as their Clinic Medical Director between 2010-2020.

She loves the ability to have relationships with her patients in DPC and feels listening, partnering with, creating a plan together, coaching, empowering and advocating on her patient’s behalf are all essential to her practice. Outside of medicine, she enjoys time with her family, appreciating the beauty of the natural world, true crime podcasts, meditation, educating herself about and doing what she can to promote racial, economic and climate justice.

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 Welcome to the podcast guys. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks for having us. You guys are the first physicians from Minnesota to be sharing your story on the podcast. So I'm really looking forward to the audience hearing more about your story and more about how DPC is going in St.

Paul and in Minnesota. So I wanted to start though with, with the idea that you three are three physicians who founded your direct primary care together, and that's not a typical thing that we see. We see a lot of micro practices. We see people who are having people join them later on. But how did you guys happen to come together to open Evergreen Primary care?

Well, a little bit of serendipity. We all did practice at. Partners and Anita and I actually worked at the same clinic for several years. Anita was medical director there, and she actually hired me when I started there. And so Anita and I knew each other, and through Covid we had quite a lot of disruption to our practice.

Our practice, our group was moved several times, and then the organization decided to kind of dissolve our group, our clinic, we are, we were at the Health Center for Women, but we were a group of seven women physicians all doing primary care. And so when that happened, I think for me at least, it was almost like the last straw.

There were a lot of things about working in a big organization that were frustrating and I, I had always thought about leaving and starting something different, but I, it's a little bit scary to do that. And so when this happened, it was kind of like, Well, if I'm ever gonna do this, if I'm ever gonna go independent, like now is the time.

And so that was sort of the. Impetus for me. And then it turned out that Anita, also, the clinic had closed and, and she had decided to take, and I'll let you speak Anita too, but she had decided to take a little time to like think about what she wanted to do. And so at, at some point decided like, Okay.

We're in this together, we're gonna do it. And then we actually hooked up with Sherry through the DPC Facebook group, and I put on there like, Hey, is anybody out here in Minnesota? ? And then Sherry, you said, Hey, yeah, I'm, I'm out here and I'm interested in dpc. But you weren't, you hadn't started anything yet.

And so then we kind of all started meeting and because we had all worked for health partners, we had a lot in common, a lot of grievances in common. And we started meeting and it was kind of just like, Hey, yes, this is what we wanna try. And now is the time. Yeah. I would say from the story, I always say like, it was very traumatic how my clinic was closed.

Dedicated 16 plus years to the organization. You know, I was moved to another clinic, was never, not with any of my nurses, not with any of the staff, not with my, my work home, All the reasons why I was staying with the organization. And so I left, I said I was giving myself a sabbatical, left on good terms and just took some time off.

And then I, I worked in the hospital as a hospitalist for a few months during the first surge. And then, and then I was looking around at trying to get another job and looking at different organizations and it was just, The same issues everywhere. It wasn't just our organization really, it was just constantly, you have to see so many patients because primary care doesn't make enough money and you have to build code more.

And we all, everyone knows this is a problem and we're gonna try to fix it, but having the experience of 16 years in the organization where they're constantly saying, We're gonna fix things because we know primary care is not sustainable and it not happening, so, So that's when I had been learning. I actually did the DPC sum of the AFP one using up my CME money before I left the organization.