Neither Ryan Unger nor Chris Bowlin intended to become physicians, but life has a way of changing plans.
Unger, who grew up in South Knoxville, started out selling college meal packages and then lab supplies before deciding he wanted to challenge himself with medical school. He is now a family practice physician.
Bowlin, who spent much of his childhood in West Knoxville, intended to follow his father on an engineering career path then switched to pre-med, ultimately pursuing podiatry thanks to the influence of a family friend.
Both came back home to launch their practices, found each other and have recently opened Faculty Physicians, a new medical office affiliated with Healthstar Physicians, on the Provision campus.
“What both of us offer is a good approach to medicine and a good understanding of patients,” says Unger. “Chris and I both agreed, we want to build an old-fashioned medical practice here in Knoxville. We want this to be our first practice and our last practice.”
Bowlin offers comprehensive foot and ankle care and specializes in surgery that can range from orthopedics to reconstruction for adult and pediatric patients. He also treats any other issues associated with foot health. Unger practices family medicine for patients of all ages. Both are certified wound care specialists.
The doctors say their practices complement each other, as foot and ankle problems are often symptomatic of chronic diseases that require the management of a primary care physician and vice versa. Their styles of practice are compatible as well, as they share the common goal of providing patient-centric, innovative, lifestyle-oriented health care.
“We both want to be able to take time talking with and listening to our patients.” Bowlin says. “In addition to treating patients’ immediate medical needs, we want to teach them to be good stewards of their health.”
The physicians were attracted to Provision because of the variety of medical services provided on campus as well as the potential of participating in clinical trials through the Center for Biomedical Research.
“It’s important to us to continue learning and continue searching for new and better ways to treat our patients,” Unger says. “We want to be part of trials that will test new products or medications and bring the kind of health care to Knoxville that you would find in a larger medical center or university.”
At the same time, the doctors believe in promoting a natural, healthy lifestyle as a way to prevent and manage disease. The two practice what they preach. Unger played soccer in college and stays fit swimming, lifting weights, mountain biking, and skiing. Bowlin was part of the competitive cycling team at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and trains as a triathlete and marathoner in addition to enjoying water sports.
The doctors partnered with Healthstar Physicians, part of the Morristown-based physician group’s newly-launched presence in Knoxville, to form Faculty Physicians, located on the third floor of the building that houses the Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center at 1400 Dowell Springs Blvd. Owned by physicians, Healthstar prides itself in providing support services to local physician practices while allowing them to maintain autonomy within their medical practices. Healthstar is a multi-specialty group with 75 providers throughout East Tennessee and a total of 500 employees.
“We were founded when a group of physicians decided to form a large multi-specialty group, so they could enjoy economies of scale and negotiate more effectively with health-related entities,” says Don Lee, Healthstar CEO. “We continue to let the physicians decide how to run their day to day operations, because we believe doctors know what’s best for their practices and their patients.”
Healthstar was attracted to Provision’s Dowell Springs campus because of the medical services already provided there, Provision’s signature proton therapy center and the promise of future growth in the area as Tennova Healthcare moves toward plans to build a new hospital across the street.
“We are impressed with the technology, we are excited about the location, and we’re thrilled with this opportunity,” Lee says. “We think that this medical park is going to continue to grow, and we look forward to being and integral part of this community.”