Family Medicine provider Elke Neuenschwander, MD with her mountain bike at Heart Lake.

Embracing Whole-Person Health

Elke Neuenschwander, MD, is a family medicine and obstetrics provider at Island Primary Care – M Avenue. Dr. Neuenschwander comes most recently from Tacoma General in Tacoma, Washington, where she completed her Obstetrics Fellowship Program. Prior to that, she completed her Family Medicine Residency at Providence Alaska Medical Center.

In a recent interview, Dr. Neuenschwander shares what she loves about her job and why she chose Island Health.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: My favorite part of my job is that I get to spend every day hearing the stories of members of my community. It feels like a gift to me when a patient is willing to share their life story with me and allow me a chance to be a part of that story. I see my job not as someone to make other’s healthcare decisions, but rather as someone meant to present options and opportunities to patients, then to help them decide what is best for them through shared decision making. I enjoy getting to know my patients and figuring out what is important to them, as I believe this helps me to be able to guide conversations on complicated decisions and medical management.

Q: What are some of your clinical interests? 
A: I am very passionate about preventative medicine and working towards whole-person health. As a part of this, I like to employ lifestyle changes as a management strategy when possible, but it is also essential to know when additional steps should be pursued. I have spent time teaching cooking classes for patients at risk of developing diabetes who are struggling to cook nutritious, complete meals on a budget and found this to be a very rewarding experience. I am particularly passionate about women’s health, including pregnancy and family planning. This is what led me to pursuing an extra year of training in surgical obstetrics and rural medicine at the Tacoma Family Medicine Rural Obstetrics Fellowship. I enjoy providing full-scope family care for all family members, from young children to their grandparents and everything in between.

Q: How do you like to spend your time when not seeing patients?
A: As a Pacific Northwest native, I spent my childhood adventuring outside, catching crawdads in the creek in my backyard and playing sports. This love of nature has stuck with me throughout my life and I enjoy spending as much of my free time as possible in the mountains, hiking, trail running, mountain biking and backcountry skiing. During my residency in Alaska, I developed an even deeper love for the outdoors. I also enjoy spending time on the water and I am looking forward to becoming more proficient at kayaking and fishing. When I am not on the water or in the mountains, I enjoy cooking and baking for friends and family. I tend to express my love for others by sharing food with them, and am always in need of some taste testers! Since completing my medical training, I have also been spending a lot of time reading about a wide range of topics, from subsistence farming, to the science of the Northern Lights, to the wilderness adventures of other young women, as well as a variety of fictional stories.

Q: Why did you choose Island Health?
A: Island Health provided an opportunity for me to practice full-scope family medicine with a large volume of obstetrical care while working in a beautiful community. Since the first day I set foot in Anacortes, I have felt welcomed here by a warm, compassionate and kind community. I am also excited about the proximity to many outdoor activities in and around the water and mountains. My family lives in the region as well, so I am thankful for the opportunity to be close to them again. I am excited to be back in the Pacific Northwest and to explore Anacortes.

 

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Neuenschwander, call 360.293.3101.

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