MILLERSPORT - It appears as though Dr. James Whetstone was destined to be a physician, although his father, Dr. Paul Whetstone, insists he and his wife, Dr. Anna Whetstone, didn't encourage their son to go into medicine over any other discipline. Still, while Dr. James Whetstone's brother, Paul, is a pilot, his brother Dave is a pharmacist, and his sister, Judy, is a doctor at the James Cancer Center.
"We didn't point any of them in that direction," said Paul, Sr.
With most of his family in the medical profession, it's really no surprise James Whetstone chose to be a family physician and no one who knows him is surprised the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians recognized Whetstone as 2009 Family Physician of the Year, an honor he received Aug. 8 during a special ceremony at the Columbus Marriott Northwest in Dublin, Ohio. Whetstone has practiced family medicine for 19 years at Whetstone Medical Clinic, a Millersport group practice Paul, Sr. and Anna founded in 1954.
Drs. Katherine Coleman, Sarah Schwartz, and Julie Shot nominated Whetstone for the honor and agree that his concern for patients goes beyond their medical diagnoses to include their home situations and personal aspects. They said it's obvious to any member of the medical profession who works with Whetstone that he is committed to his patients and exemplifies the ideal family physician.
Whetstone said it's all about open communication with patients. "In family practice, that's the best attribute you can have," he said. Of course the technical skills are important, but a good bedside manner and willingness to listen to patients are more than worth the extra time they take. "I'm a physician who's always running behind," said Whetstone. "Sometimes my patients need to wait, but they know they'll never be shortchanged."
"While recovering at home from surgery, Doctor Jim would often check in on me during his lunch hour. His dedication to my well-being went far beyond the normal call of duty," David Sherrer, Whetstone's patient.
Whetstone's concern for his patients also extends into his community, where he's served as the team physician for the Walnut Township School District since 1990. On Friday nights in autumn he can be found on the sidelines of football games offering medical advice and services for injuries on the field. It's something his father did and Whetstone wanted to continue the tradition. He remembers sitting on his father's black medical bag on the sidelines when he was very young. "I still use that bag on the sidelines," said Whetstone. He was also instrumental in forming the Millersport Little Lakers Football Program where primary school students learn the fundamentals of football and cheerleading, and the benefits of hard work and being a team player.
Whetstone is very active with the Millersport United Methodist Church, has performed in roughly 20 musicals with the Millersport Community Theatre and serves with the Millersport Zoning Committee.
Whetstone said he shares the Family Physician of the Year award with his parents. His father still handles the practice's business side and his mother was the first female physician in Fairfield County. Whetstone said his father computerized the office in 1986, before PCs, and the office performed medical procedures usually only identified with large hospitals. "They've always been cutting edge," said Whetstone, even in tiny Millersport.
He also credits his success to his staff, which he said has very little turnover. The most recent hire has been there six years and current employees have been there as long as 41 years.
Whetstone graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree from Muskingum College, and received his medical degree in 1987 from The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Finally, he completed his residency at Riverside Methodist Hospital Family Practice Residency in 1990, earning the Ross Resident of the Year Award. Today, he and his wife, Julie, live in Millersport and have three children, Joshua, Jamie, and Johanna.
Whetstone hopes to do mission work someday to combine his faith and profession, but he has little time off, isn't sure where he'd go, and for now it's important to spend time with his kids whenever vacation time is available. "It's a goal someday," he said. For now, said Whetstone, he's extremely happy where he is.