“This is the biggest honor of my career,” Dr. R.D. Marks said about receiving the Montana Family Physician of the Year award on June 18.
Dr. Marks, chief of staff at the Madison Valley Medical Center, is a fourth-generation Montana native – his ancestors homesteaded a ranch near Clancy in 1889. When Dr. Marks graduated high school, he attended Carroll College, studying biology.
“It seemed like everyone studying biology was premed and I just got yanked into it,” he said. “Then I went to University of Washington and did my residency in Spokane.”
After that, Dr. Marks returned to Montana and opened a private practice in Missoula. He worked for nearly 25 years as a family practice physician there, and during that time delivered more than 700 babies and was the family department chair at Community Medical Center and St. Pat’s Hospital.
After a short stint as a consultant in the Middle East, Dr. Marks set his sights on Montana again and somehow got roped back into medicine.
“I was retired,” he said, explaining how he came to be at MVMC. “My dad told me to come to Ennis. He said they needed help. I said I was done with medicine, but I met with the temporary CEO (of MVMC) at the time and said I would help out for a month. Five and 1/2 years later, I’m still here.”
Dr. Marks said MVMC and the Madison Valley revitalized his passion for medicine.
“My fire was lit again,” he said. “Sometimes I just look out my window and say, ‘man, I can’t believe I get paid to work here’.”
When Dr. Marks is not at work, he is most likely in the mountains, because that is where he is happiest.
“My passion is to be on top of the mountains,” he said. “Fishing. Hunting. I don’t guide, but I love to take people out who haven’t been out before. People who have never shot game, I just love to help them get their first critter.”
Receiving the award was a complete surprise.
“I’ve been on the board of the Family Practice Academy and I’ve been involved with the selection process in years past,” he said about the physician of the year award. “I know most of the people who have received it over the last 30 years. Wow, it’s an honor – walking in their footsteps is like walking in the footsteps of giants. They are a group of doctors who have their hearts in the right place.”
Dr. Maura Davenport, who also works at MVMC, nominated Dr. Marks for the award.
“He has done so much for this medical community,” she said, explaining why she thought he deserved the recognition. “He took this place from not well-functioning and not well-trusted to a pretty amazing medical community.”
The nomination form included quotes from the community and letters from people like John Bishop, CEO of MVMC, and Dottie Fossel, board chairperson. Dr. Davenport then submitted the nomination form without telling Dr. Marks, making the award a complete surprise.
Working at MVMC is a positive experience, Dr. Marks said.
“We can actually take care of people,” he said. “All the staff, the community, the board, the foundation, we all have that attitude. If something needs to get done, we get it done. If we need to get a new piece of equipment, we just figure out how we can do that. We are a very rare, fortunate entity to work like we do.”