For this special edition of Top Doctors, we took a close look at our list throughout the years, which represents some of the best minds in Twin Cities medicine.
The list has certainly grown—our first edition in 1992 included 250 doctors, while this year’s features more than 500—but some things remain the same, including one of this year’s cover models, Dr. Barbara Bowers, who appeared on our first Top Doctors cover in 1992.
But the most astonishing common thread throughout the years is the 30 doctors who have appeared on the list every time we’ve published it. We’ve dubbed them our Honor Roll, and for this issue we spoke to many of them about their careers, their specialties, and what being a doctor means to them.
In the process, we found a talented group of specialists who delight in their work and have a passion for doing what doctors do best: caring for their patients.
The Honor Roll
For the first time ever, we rounded up a list of the doctors who have appeared in every edition of Top Doctors. Introducing the 30 members of the Top Docs Honor Roll:
Evan A. Ballard: ophthalmology, Associated Eye Care
Bruce J. Bart: dermatology, Hennepin Faculty Associates
Mitchell E. Bender: dermatology, Dermatology Specialists PA & University of Minnesota Physicians
Merrill A. Biel: otolaryngology, Ear, Nose & Throat SpecialtyCare of Minnesota & Allina Medical Clinic
Carl A. Brown: otolaryngology, Ear, Nose & Throat SpecialtyCare of Minnesota
Victor A. Corbett: endocrinology & internal medicine, Allina Medical Clinic
Scott F. Davies: critical care medicine & pulmonary disease, Hennepin Faculty Associates
Thomas D. Davin: nephrology, Kidney Specialists of Minnesota
Daniel K. Day: ophthalmology, Northwest Eye Clinic
David G. Fine: cardiology/cardiovascular disease, David G. Fine, MD
James R. Flink: critical care medicine & pulmonary disease, St. Paul Lung Clinic
Patrick J. Flynn: oncology, Minnesota Oncology Hematology & Virginia Piper Cancer Institute
Thomas P. Flynn: oncology, Minnesota Oncology Hematology & Virginia Piper Cancer Institute
Ronald D. Groat: psychiatry, Ronald D. Groat, MD
Paula M. Kelly: pediatrics, HealthEast
Gary Kravitz: infectious diseases, St. Paul Infectious Diseases
Paul T. Kubic: pediatric pulmonary disease, Children’s Respiratory & Critical Care Specialists
Wayne F. Leebaw: endocrinology, Endocrinology Clinic of Minneapolis
Barbara N. Malone: pediatric otolaryngology, Midwest Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists
James P. McCord: pediatrics, Children’s of Minnesota
Mark L. Norman III: ophthalmology, Southdale Eye Clinic
Burton S. Schwartz: hematology & oncology, Minnesota Oncology Hematology
Carl S. Smith: urology, Hennepin Faculty Associates
James H. Somerville: nephrology, InterMed Consultants Ltd.
Richard J. Stafford: pediatric gastroenterology, Minnesota Gastroenterology Clinic and Endoscopy Center
Mark P. Stesin: endocrinology, Mark P. Stesin MD PA
Stephen B. Sundberg: pediatric orthopedic surgery, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare
Arkady Synhavsky: nephrology, Kidney Specialists of Minnesota
Paul H. Waytz: rheumatology, Arthritis & Rheumatology Consultants PA
Daniel Alan Zydowicz: infectious diseases, Infectious Diseases Clinic
We Asked. They Answered.
Our Honor Roll doctors talk about their careers, their specialties, and the changing medical landscape.
Q: Some of you have been in practice for more than 30 years. What are some of the greatest changes you’ve seen in your field?
Gary Kravitz (infectious diseases):
My practice is more evolution than action. I had never seen a case of AIDS before starting my practice and never thought we’d see it here in Minnesota. Lyme Disease wasn’t around. Almost every year there seems to be something totally new. It’s energizing.
Paula Kelly (pediatrics):
The emotional needs of kids have skyrocketed. Anxiety, depression, and eating disorders are so common now.
Victor Corbett (endocrinology/internal medicine):
The treatment available to diabetes patients is drastically different. We now have home monitoring, better medicines, and better education.
Mark Norman (ophthalmology):
I couldn’t have imagined doing laser eye treatment when I first started. Safety is so much higher now.
Carl Smith (urology):
Working at Hennepin County Medical Center, we see more and more patients of different origins. The impact we can have on these patients drives us every day to treat and find excellent care.
Thomas Flynn (oncology):
We understand cancer at a molecular level now. There are better medications now that target specific abnormalities, which helps control the disease. Because of advancements, cancer can sometimes be more like a chronic disease.
James Flink (critical care medicine/pulmonary disease):
While the foundation of what I do has remained the same throughout
30 years, refinements and improvements are always changing the field. It’s fun to learn and to change with it.
Q: Many of you have been at the same clinic since you started in medicine; why is that?
Scott Davies (critical care/pulmonary disease):
I like the culture of a safety-net hospital like Hennepin County Medical Center. I get to teach and see patients in clinic.
Stephen Sundberg (pediatric orthopedic surgery):
The team care approach at Gillette is outstanding. The support from the nursing staff and other specialists allows us to give the best care to kids.
Q: And many of you have patients you’ve seen during your entire career, don’t you?
Wayne Leebaw (endocrinology):
I have several longstanding patients, and you certainly develop very close relationships with them.
Mark Stesin (endocrinology):
I know my patients as people, and I’ve seen how they’ve changed. Part of the enjoyment is getting to know them as people.
I’m seeing a lot of second generation now. Patients are bringing their children to see me, which is the best compliment.
Barbara Malone (pediatric otolaryngology):
You truly get to see your patients grow up and get the pleasure of seeing families evolve.
Q: Are you constantly solicited for free medical advice?
I always say that I run an outpatient clinic in my family room. I get a lot of questions about kids hurt in hockey games.
James McCord (pediatrics):
Questions about family medicine are part of the territory. I figure it’s my contribution.
Evan Ballard (ophthalmology):
A lot of people with migraines ask me for advice. I feel it’s a gift to have a specialty skill, and I’m honored to share my knowledge.
Almost everyone knows someone with diabetes, so I’m asked a lot of questions related to diabetes. A lot of people are concerned about complications or increased cardiac risk factors.
Q: Many of you teach residents as part of your practice. What is it like to usher in the new generation of medical care?
Medical students and residents have challenged me to continually improve. Their presence keeps me fresh and honest and forces me to justify what I am doing when we see patients together.
Richard Stafford (pediatric gastroenterology):
They’re much smarter than I was at that age! The basic science they know is outstanding.
I wanted to teach as part of my practice because teachers and mentors make the biggest impact on you in medical school.
Anatomy of an Honor Roll Top Doc
These 30 Doctors have more in common than just appearing on our list every year. Here's a breakdown.
Honor Roll Medical Advice
We asked some of our Top Doctors what medical advice they wish everyone knew. Follow these words of wisdom to avoid more trips to the doctors office:
How Is Top Doctors Created?
Frequently asked questions about the Top Doctors process.
How are doctors on this list chosen?
We send out the Top Doctors survey to 2,500 randomly selected physicians and 2,500 randomly selected registered nurses. These doctors and nurses fill out the survey, telling us which doctors they would go to in pre-selected specialties, and then return the survey to us. About 20 percent of the surveys mailed out are returned, which is a good rate of return for a mail survey. We then tally the results, and physicians who receive the top 15 percent (approximately) of the vote in each specialty become our Top Doctors.
How do you decide whom to send the survey to?
We request a list from the Mailing List Service from the State of Minnesota’s list of licensed physicians and nurses in the 10-county metro area. The service—not Mpls.St.Paul—randomly selects which doctors and nurses get sent the survey. The survey is not sent to clinics, hospitals, or health care groups, just to the individuals at the addresses they have given to the licensing board.
How are the medical specialties chosen?
Each year we re-evaluate which specialties to include. We only include specialties certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
Why isn’t my doctor on this list?
While we like to think that every doctor on this list is good, not every good doctor makes it onto this list. It can be hard for newer doctors or doctors in smaller practices to make this list. Plus, we may not include a specialty that your doctor practices.
Isn’t this list just a popularity contest?
Unfortunately, we cannot control if a doctor votes for everyone at his or her clinic or in his or her group. In sending surveys to randomly selected people, we hope to avoid a lot of politics, but we can only do so much. Any attempt at ballot stuffing disqualifies a doctor, and copied surveys are discarded. Using this list is a lot like going to your doctor for a recommendation, but we ask more doctors than you ever could. Please use this list as a starting point in finding a doctor.
Do doctors need to be advertisers to be on the list?
No. We put the list together before our advertising team even starts its work. Some doctors do choose to advertise after they know they’re on the list, but advertising does not guarantee a spot on the list.
Does Mpls.St.Paul Magazine check all doctors on the list?
We contact all the doctors to verify their information. We also check to make sure they’re board certified and in good standing with the medical board. Most of the doctors are specialty certified, but some are not. Please check with your doctor regarding specialty certifications. More details can be found at abms.org.
Where can I find additional information?
More information, including addresses, is available on our website at mspmag.com/health.