The Millennials: Providing small town health care.

March 14, 2015
Nick and Christina Simone

Nick and Christina Simone

Editor’s Note: Sustaining a community and keeping it vibrant requires diversity on many levels, especially among age groups. An unintended movement the last few years has been the increased number of millennials who have taken a role in community and business leadership in Mason County. A millennial, also known as Generation Y, is defined as a person who was born from the early ‘80s to the 2000s.. This generation grew up in the digital age and often offers a unique and fresh perspective to leadership.

This is the seventh story in our weekly series on the area’s millennials who are making an impact in our community.

Sponsored by All Access Care of Ludington. Located at 329 N. Jebavy Dr. in Ludington; 231-425-4544; www.all-access-care.com.

By Kate Krieger. Senior Correspondent.

Meeting while attending University of Michigan, Nick and Christina (Strahan) Simone loved the feel of Ann Arbor, but knew they wanted to settle down and establish roots in a small town.

Nick, 31, grew up in the Upper Peninsula town of Iron Mountain and graduated in 2002. Christina, 30, is a 2003 graduate of Ludington High School. Both attended U of M and had a vision of what their lives were going to look like when they finally graduated.

“I was there close to 10 years,” Nick says. “I did undergraduate, dental school and residency all there.”

Nick studied molecular, cellular and developmental biology during his four years as an undergraduate. He always liked science, he says, and he knew he wanted to be a dentist, especially with many of his family members also in the field as well.

“I chose the degree because I liked science,” he says. “It was less credits than a traditional biology degree, but it ended up being a lot harder. It was fun. I enjoyed it.”

Completing a dentist job shadow while still in high school, Nick knew he wanted to go that direction after he had completed his bachelor’s degree.

“My mom was a dental hygienist,” he says. “I like working with my hands and it’s kind of an artistic thing.”

Nick also had a passion for business and owning his own business; becoming a dentist was a way to cover both passions.

“Dentistry was an outlet for being able to work with my hands and it was also a business outlet,” he says. “It was really business school versus dentistry for a while, but I decided I could really do both as a dentist.”

Graduating in 2010 from dental school, Nick completed his residency at U of M in cosmetic dentistry from 2010 to 2011 and after he still had some time to spend in Ann Arbor before Christina was completed with school, so he took job with a dental company.

“It was hard to find a job for nine months,” he says. “Christina still had nine months before graduating, so I got a job with a corporate dental company. I had to travel all around Detroit from Ann Arbor everyday.”

Christina finished up at U of M in 2012 after a long career in higher education as well. Her passion for nursing started while she attended Allied Health during high school at the Career and Technical Education program at West Shore Community College.

“I did the Allied Health at West Shore,” she says. “We picked different things to observe and one of the ones I picked was nursing. I observed nurses in the ER and I liked the fast pace and all different types of patients.”

Attending West Shore Community College to receive her associate’s degree in nursing, she then transferred to U of M to continue her education.

“I went to U of M for my bachelor’s and master’s,” Christina says. “I graduated in 2012 as a family nurse practitioner.”

Realizing that they both wanted to stay in Michigan, the couple started the hunt for an area where Nick could start his own dental practice and where Christina could also find job.

“We both wanted to stay in Michigan, so the other 49 states were out,” Nick says. “We got a dentistry magazine and started looking in the back where they listed practices that were sale.”

Getting into the car and venturing around the state, Nick and Christina visited a lot of towns and office spaces before finally finding one very close to home from Christina.

“We went all over Michigan,” Christina says. “We went to the U.P. to Crystal Falls, Iron Mountain, then to Traverse City. We were a lot of places.”

Scottville dentist, Brian Haded was in the process of selling his practice and the couple went to check it out and decided to purchase it.

“We bought in Scottville in 2012,” Nick says. “The timing was right. There are a lot of people our age here and the job opportunities are more attractive here. Not too many of my friends were still around up in the U.P.”

Taking over Haded’s practice, all the current employees stayed on to work under Nick. He says he was very grateful for that and for them because it made the transition a lot easier.

“All the staff stayed and that was the nicest thing about it,” he says. “I was surprised. The transition, it was good. I sent out a letter to patients and the majority of them continue to come back.”

In October of 2012, Christina also landed a job in the area. She was hired as a nurse practitioner at Internal Medical Associates of Ludington, where she worked with Dr. Ralph Avedisian and Dr. Zane Knoer.

“I took the boards right away after graduating,” she says. “I had to wait for my licenses, that’s why I didn’t work until October.”

Christina says she really enjoys working in the area and for the office because she has a lot of flexibility in what she gets to do and who she gets to see.

“It’s really nice because I don’t have my own set of patients,” she says. “The doctors each have their own, but if someone calls in and they are both full, I can see them and it makes it nicer for people so they don’t have to go to the ER for something we can deal with at the office.”

As a nurse practitioner, Christina does much of what the doctors do and she can see patients, order tests and prescribe medications.

If the couple wasn’t busy enough, they welcomed their first child, Nick, in August 2014. Christina went to part time at the office and Nick started looking for expand his practice as it continued to grow.

“My current office is so confined now,” he says. “There are only so many chairs to use and that affects how fast patients can get in. Lew Squires owned property next to his current chiropractic office in Scottville and we decided to buy it and build a larger office. He’s been a real help.”

With Dr. Squires’ help, Nick hired Mark Hacker to construct his new practice on US 10 in Scottville and he hopes for it to be completed in June.

“Mark is a great guy and I tried to keep everyone involved with the building as local as I could,” Nick says. “A lot of patients of mine do those types of things, plumbing or whatever, I tried to incorporate as many of those people as possible.”

Between Nick and Lew, they are hoping that the area continues to grow, offering more medical options in one area for Scottville residents.

“It could really be an area with a few different things in one place,” Nick says. “It’s a step in the right direction, yet I hate to leave downtown, but the biggest thing is there’s more room and we can have a couple of hygienists working at the same time. It will be more efficient, which is better for patients.”

Involved in the Knights of Columbus, the Scottville Optimists and working the popcorn wagon at the Tuesday night concerts at the Scottville Clown Band Shell, Nick is busy volunteering as well as working in Scottville. The couple really wants to continue offering the Scottville residents as much as they can.

“I try to do as much as I can for the local schools and clubs,” Nick says. “This area is a good fit for me. I’m a small town type of guy. It’s how I grew up.”

Christina also says she enjoys being in a small town and she realizes that being back home isn’t as bad as it may have seemed while still in high school.

“When I was younger, I didn’t have coming back here to live on my radar,” she says. “When I was a nurse in the ER, I started to realize that I wanted to come back. I just love the water and the Ludington State Park. Ann Arbor was fun, but it was awful in the summer when you couldn’t go to the beach. We would lay by the pool, but it wasn’t the same. We love being here.”

 

 

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