The growing practice has developed a unique fellowship program to achieve an audacious mission.
Joseph Gadzia, MD, who became Kansas Medical Clinic’s first dermatologist when he joined the practice 17 years ago, and Michael Kucenic, MD, KMC’s on-site dermatopathologist.
In the 17 years since Joseph Gadzia, MD, became KMC’s first dermatologist, the practice has taken off and the goal has grown exponentially.
Shekhar Challa, MD, a Topeka-based gastroenterologist and co-founder of the Kansas Medical Clinic, now has a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal — in the words of researcher and author Jim Collins) of ensuring no patient in Kansas has to travel farther than 50 miles to see a dermatologist.
To achieve that goal, KMC is identifying communities around the state in need of a dermatology provider, while simultaneously creating a nurse practitioner/physician assistant fellowship program to help staff new offices.
“Now my BHAG is to have a dermatology provider within 50 miles of anywhere in Kansas within the next four to five years.”
— Shekhar Challa, MD, co-founder of Kansas Medical Clinic
Good Business Sense
So why did a gastroenterologist decide to open a dermatology practice?
“We used to have a primary care base, and we had quite a bit of difficulty getting our patients in to see dermatologists,” Dr. Challa says. “It then made business sense to go into dermatology.”
Dr. Challa is an entrepreneur at heart, and he hired Dr. Gadzia to test the dermatology market in the summer of 2000.
Dr. Gadzia injects a patient with Kybella, an effective treatment to reduce submental fullness.
“We stepped into dermatology not sure that it would be a huge growth area for us but knowing that it was definitely necessary in Topeka,” says Michelle Meier, KMC’s COO. “We felt very fortunate to get Dr. Gadzia to come to Topeka. He was instrumental in guiding us on the needs of a full-service dermatology clinic.”
Dr. Gadzia says KMC gave him the opportunity to customize the new practice from the ground up.
“When I first started, I was the only dermatologist,” Dr. Gadzia says. “There was no one here before me to set up procedures or have equipment in place. Over the past 17 years, we’ve basically built the business to become a complete dermatology provider and to offer all services to our patients that are currently available to patients with skin diseases.
“We can treat all skin ailments, and we have essentially all the FDA-approved treatments for various skin conditions,” Dr. Gadzia says. “It’s a one-stop shop, and they don’t have to worry that we will have to forward them to someone else.”
Dr. Kucenic reviews microscopic slides in KMC’s in-house pathology lab.
For example, when Dr. Gadzia performs a procedure such as Mohs surgery, he is able to remove the cancer and a very thin rim of normal-looking skin around it, then take it to Michael Kucenic, MD, KMC’s on-site dermatopathologist, who can immediately read the specimen under a microscope and determine if additional tissue needs to be removed. KMC’s plastic surgeons are also available for delicate cosmetic procedures.
The Topeka practice now has five dermatology providers and a full-service path lab, which Meier says is an asset to patients.
“We are able to process in our own lab with the highest of quality,” she says. “If you come to KMC, we can guarantee a board-certified dermatopathologist is going to look at your lab.”
The success of the Topeka office led to a second clinic in Shawnee, Kansas, and when busy practitioners in Topeka noticed they had patients coming from Lawrence, a third location was opened.
The providers at Kansas Medical Clinic include Drs. Majdy Albahhar, Joseph Gadzia, James Allen, Kyle Anderson, Lisa Waxman, Marti Byers, Meena Singh and Michael Kucenic. The goal is for each community in Kansas to be within 50 miles of a dermatologist.
Dr. Gadzia performs a laser treatment. KMC lasers are used to treat hyperpigmentation, angiomas, spider veins and more.
Meier says KMC has been approached by physicians nearing retirement and has purchased their dermatology practices, retaining the doctors and adding new ones.
“They’re people who have excellent practices, who have worked for years building their patient base,” Meier says. “They just need someone they can trust to take over and add all the new requirements or sign new leases for the long term, someone who can ensure the survival of what they’ve worked so hard to build.”
This growth, which now also includes Leawood, Legends and Manhattan locations, is just the starting point.
KMC now has a total of 14 dermatology providers, with plans for more.
Developing a BHAG
“Now my BHAG is to have a dermatology provider within 50 miles of anywhere in Kansas within the next four to five years,” Dr. Challa says.
In order to do that, he created a fellowship program to recruit nurse practitioners and physician assistants willing to live in communities such as Independence, Coffeyville, Pittsburg, Emporia or Yates Center.
“My fellowship program needs to correlate with my BHAG in a way,” Dr. Challa says. “We have picked several locations, and if we can find somebody who, after their training in Topeka and Kansas City, would go back to these areas, that’d be great.”
Dr. Challa’s paid fellowship opportunity offers one or two individuals one year of training, followed by at least three years of dermatology service with KMC.
“We are getting inquiries from all over the country to be in our fellowship program,” Dr. Challa says, adding that the program’s first fellow has just completed course work and looks forward to training more. Dr. Challa measures his goal against two criteria.
“One: Is it making business sense? And two: Is it serving a bigger purpose?” Dr. Challa asks. “It makes sense for us when we see how far people are traveling.”
For more information about Dr. Challa and KMC Dermatology, please visit www.kmcpa.com.