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Caring for Children

an Interview with Michael and Patrice Whistler

Article by GJ Lifestyle Staff

Photography by Ashlee FIcklin, and provided by the Whistlers

Originally published in Grand Junction Lifestyle

Dr. Patrice Whistler and Dr. Michael Whistler (better known as Dr. Mike to his patients) are two incredible Pediatricians in our community.  They are passionate about kids, not only keeping their bodies healthy but making the world a better place for them. They are involved with organizations such as Girls on the Run and Kids Aid and they are always looking out for an opportunity to help our community and particularly the youth.

Q) How did the two of you meet?

A) Patrice and I both went to Tulane Medical School in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was 2 years ahead of me in school.  We were both involved in the American Medical Students Association (AMSA) at our school, but had little contact with each other.  Then we both attended an AMSA meeting in Cleveland, Ohio where we got to know each other better.

Q) Why did you decide to practice medicine?

A) Patrice comes from a family full of physicians, her father was an Orthopedic Surgeon and her mom worked in Public Health for the State of Kansas.  She has 2 brothers who are also physicians, one in Denver and one in Kansas City.  My grandfather was a general practice physician who graduated from medical school in 1886, about 100 years before I did.  I was a Chemistry major but had an advisor who suggested a career in medicine.  We both were drawn to Pediatrics out of a love for children and making a connection with parents and families, as well as a desire to improve the lives of children wherever possible.

Q) Why did you choose to come to Grand Junction?

A) Prior to Grand Junction, we were working in Tahlequah, OK.  I was a Pediatrician on staff at the Indian Health Service Hospital there, and Patrice was the Medical Director of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.  After 5 years, it became apparent that Patrice would lose her job when a new tribal Chief was elected, so we began to look for other opportunities.  We were at a medical meeting in San Francisco and the person sitting in front of us had a name tag that said “Roger Shenkel, Grand Junction.”   Patrice approached him and asked how things were in Grand Junction and he replied that things were “terrific” and that the town was in need of more Pediatricians. He put us in touch with our current practice, and we had a great interview.  We have been here ever since, now 30 years.

Q) How did Primary Care Partners get Started?

A) Primary Care Partners was formed out of a desire to create a group of like-minded, high-quality primary care practices who could then be large enough that insurance companies could not ignore us. From the original 3 practices, Primary Care Partners now has 5 practices in Grand Junction and in Fruita.  We are still independent, which is rare these days, and we still provide the highest quality of care for our patients and families.

Q) How did you get involved with Kids Aid?

A) We became interested in the Kids Aid backpack program out of a desire to help a great organization dedicated to combating hunger in the children of Mesa County.  They give children non-perishable food items on weekends to make sure the family has something to eat over the weekends. They are a very dedicated group of volunteers, and this year, as we did 2 years ago, we are donating $5 to the Kids Aid program for every Well Child exam we see in July.  We have lots of openings, so call today for your child’s checkup!

Q) How did you get involved with Girls on the Run?

A) Patrice and I have been sponsoring Girls on the Run for many years.  This is a program that connects elementary school girls with adult coaches/mentors who encourage healthy lifestyles and exercise, as well as promoting cooperation, camaraderie, and self-esteem at a critical time.  Running is an activity anyone at any age can enjoy, all they need is a pair of shoes and a little motivation.

We really enjoyed getting to talk with Dr. & Dr. Whistler. We are grateful to Roger Shenkel for showing them the beauty of Grand Junction and how they could fill a need. They certainly have, and we look forward to continuing that growth with them.

We both were drawn to Pediatrics out of a love for children and making a connection with parents and families, as well as a desire to improve the lives of children wherever possible.

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