Stephen Nesbit, DO

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Stephen Nesbit, DO, MBA, defines a modern-day Renaissance man.

As chief medical officer for Via Christi Hospitals in Wichita, Nesbit has numerous, wide-ranging duties.

He oversees all hospital quality and clinical effectiveness initiatives, medical staff operations, physician leadership development, physician-hospital relations, and accreditation compliance. He has oversight of the hospitalist and intensivist programs on all campuses, and all medical directors report to him. He also is in charge of graduate medical education programs.

Spare time? Nesbit fills that with numerous, wide-ranging hobbies. Besides family (he and his wife, Suzie, have six adult children and three grandchildren), through the years he’s enjoyed sailing, flying, endurance racing, making music and rescuing horses
and dogs.

“The truth is I get bored easily and like to learn new things,” says Nesbit. “That’s opened me up to lots of great experiences.”

In more than 30 years of practicing medicine, the board-certified Family Medicine physician has had a variety of physician leadership roles as an employed physician and in private practice, including working in clinics to serve the underserved. When he came to Via Christi last September, he already had 14 years of administrative experience — eight of them with plan providers, six with hospital systems — always with a particular focus on quality. Nesbit also is board-certified in Quality Assurance/Utilization Review.

“Every job I’ve had, I’ve been concerned with quality,” says Nesbit. “That’s my area of expertise, my passion.”

Claudio Ferraro, president of Via Christi Hospital on Harry, says he appreciates Nesbit’s focus and his experience.

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“He’s had his own practice and worked in large organizations as a physician and as CMO in other parts of the country,” says Ferraro. “He has a deep understanding of real physician issues and how we can navigate to find solutions that are very patient-centered.”

Although he was inspired by his mother, a nurse for 45 years, Nesbit’s first degree was a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing that led to two years as a pharmaceutical sales representative.

“Then I met two doctors in Hamilton, Texas — both DOs — and I liked their philosophy and what they were doing,” says Nesbit. “It was almost a missionary practice, out there so far. I knew that was what I wanted to do.” He went back to school to fulfill medical school requirements and in 1981 received his medical degree from the University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kansas City, Mo. A one-year internship at Riverside Hospital in Wichita followed, including rotations at Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis. “I interned here and became a Catholic here,” Nesbit says.

His first private practice was in Quanah, Texas, a town of about 2,500 named for Quanah Parker, the last Comanche chief. In 1875, after the US Army destroyed their winter camp, killing their horses, a government envoy was sent to ask Quanah to bring his followers to the reservation. He did, and then, observing how business was done by non-Indians, went on to become a successful rancher and cattleman. He traded his Comanche dress for a traditional suit but never cut his braids.

“He was a Geronimo-type leader, raiding and fighting,” Nesbit says, “Then he went on to become a success in a whole new way, hunting with Teddy Roosevelt and even lobbying Congress for his people.”

“I’ve kept his picture on my desk everywhere I’ve worked since, to remind me of how you can change your life if you want to. His life changed so dramatically — and mine did, too.”

An east Texas native, Nesbit has ridden horses most of his life.

“I bought my first horse when I was 14, with money I saved from my paper route,” he says. These days, Nesbit rides an Arabian stallion, Rio, in long distance endurance races. Rio is stabled in Aces High Stables in Derby, home of Flint Hills Therapeutic Riding Center. The center provides hippotherapy to its clients, using horseback riding to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input. Nesbit is a member of the center’s board.

Nesbit took up sailing when he lived in central Texas and later had a sailboat in Houston. His love of flying developed when he lived in west Texas.

Although he no longer sings with his country western band, Classified Country, he still plays the guitar and sits in with other bands — like Shifting Dullness, whose other members are

Via Christi Family Medicine faculty.

The Nesbits also save, rehabilitate and find homes for horses and dogs.

Besides Rio, he can list their “menagerie” with ease: Two miniature horses and two donkeys, a blind, pregnant mare and several other horses, six dogs — a three-legged Australian Shepherd, two Labs, an English Springer Spaniel, a Jack Russell terrier (“terrorist is more accurate”), a beagle —  and “Oh yeah, two barn cats.”

Although others may think he and Suzie are “too easy” when it comes to taking in animals, Nesbit is not at all apologetic.

“Each animal has its own story, so the reason is different for each one. I think for the most part they find us; they choose us, we don’t choose them. If you focus and really pay attention, animals have a great deal to say. Their unconditional love is overwhelming.”
Nesbit says he came to Via Christi Health because he was impressed with Via Christi President and CEO Jeff Korsmo’s focus on physicians and patient-centered care, and his efforts to integrate and redesign health care in preparation for the inevitable changes ahead.

Ferraro says those who have worked with Nesbit appreciate his ability to see every side of any question.

“He has a real calmness — and a good sense of humor,” says Ferraro. “He is as genuine with Jeff Korsmo as he is with any member of our staff.

“He can work with anybody, and everybody feels valued by him.”


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