?(I?m looking forward to) building the practice and having it become successful,? Skiles said. ?Just doing a good job for those people that my life touches, that?s the biggest thing.?
Linda L. Skiles
Skiles, a board-certified family-practice physician, began seeing patients July 9 in Marion. She was previously employed as a family-practice physician at the Cotton-O?Neil Clinic in Wamego.
Skiles, along with husband Lee Dalrymple, decided to move to Marion to be closer to family, and also for assistance in paying off student loans.
?I thought it would be nice to come back closer to family,? Skiles said. ?And I found they would offer some loan forgiveness to help me pay my student loans here.?
Skiles decided to become a family-practice physician when she was 42. She graduated from Ross University School of Medicine based in Edison, N.J.
?My children were pretty much grown and everything, so I had that freedom,? she said.
While attending the university, Skiles completed the first two years of her basic education on the Dominica Island in the Caribbean and her final two years in Chicago. She completed her residency at Via Christi in Wichita.
?It?s sort of hard for me to put things in a nutshell,? Skiles said, ?because the path I took was pretty convoluted. It?s not the typical path other people would do.
?I?ve done a lot of traveling and been a lot of different places to get to this goal, so it?s not just your average in, out, on with life type of thing. But I?m glad I did what I did.?
Skiles became interested in the medical field while growing up with a mother who had polio.
?In the community where I was raised, physicians were well-respected,? she said. ?I think my mom?s illness really instilled respect for the profession.?
Initially, however, Skiles wanted to go into nursing. But, after being exposed to other fields, she decided to become a physician.
?I wasn?t getting any younger and my loan debt wasn?t getting any smaller, so I decided to make that choice and go to medical school,? she said.
Skiles said she plans to retire in Marion, where she and her husband are building a new house.
?My goals and aspirations are pretty much to stay right here in Marion,? she said. ?And before I retire, just to do a good job for the patients I take care of and that my life touches. I don?t really have any more aspirations or goals than that.?
Bittle began at the new clinic Sept. 4 with 14 years of experience as a family-medicine physician?s assistant.
As a physician?s assistant, Bittle describes herself as a mid-level practitioner.
?Essentially, I do most of the things that physicians do, only under their supervision,? Bittle said. ?(Skiles) doesn?t have to be in the room with us, that kind of thing. But she?s always there for questions and to refer back to.?
A 1993 Wichita State University graduate, Bittle worked the previous three years in Herington and 11 years before that at Marion Family Physicians LLC.
She decided to return to Marion because of her former patients and familiarity with the community.
?I just really enjoyed the patients,? she said. ?We (husband and two children) live up by Lincolnville, so this seemed more like home to me than Herington did. It?s just comfortable and pleasant.?
Among her goals for the St. Luke Physician Clinic is customer-oriented service, particularly through extended hours.
Bittle runs a daily walk-in clinic from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Individuals can come in without an appointment to be treated for anything from a runny nose to a stubbed toe.
Skiles is available late afternoon and early evening on Tuesday and Thursday.
?We?re pretty easy to get into throughout the day,? Bittle said. ?We try to make (the clinic) more accessible to people than traditional offices.
?That was one thing that really attracted me to not only the hospital, but working with Dr. Skiles, is that it?s very customer-oriented. Medicine for so many years has not been that way.?
Bittle has known since she was in middle school that she wanted to be involved in the medical field.
?I always liked anatomy and science classes in school,? she said. ?It was a good match. I enjoy it a lot.?
Bittle has particular interest in diabetes education, women?s and children?s health and has taken several continuing education courses on those subjects.
?I?ve had a lot of people ask, ?Why don?t you go back to medical school?? But I really enjoy doing what I do,? Bittle said. ?I?ve always got (a doctor?s) second opinion if I need it and I get to do all the things they do. I also get to do more education, and I really enjoy that.?