Best Doctors for Women 2009

Because it’s your body, you want the best medical care available. Because it’s your life, you want to know all the choices. That’s why we asked 5,000 Twin Cities doctors to recommend the colleagues they would send their wives, sisters, daughters, partners, and female friends to see. Here, the result: a list of 200-plus doctors in 28 specialties who really care about the care they provide.


Photo by Todd Buchanan

John P. Bantle


University of Minnesota Fairview

Why he got into medicine: “I was a chemistry major in college. But one day I looked around and said, ‘This isn’t right for me.’ Everyone was studying on Saturday night and walking around with slide rules in their pockets. Fortunately, I’d applied to medical school as a contingency plan.”

What’s satisfying about the job: “In endocrinology, particularly in diabetes care, my specialty, you see people with chronic problems over a very long time. There are some patients I’ve followed for 25 years. We know each other well, and I think I intuitively understand their point of view about a lot of things: I know what will fly with them—and what won’t.”

About the map: “My wife and I worked in Peru for a time. Someone had drawn this map, putting South America on top and North America on the bottom. At first I thought, what was this guy smoking? But I realized that in the U.S. and maybe Europe, we can have a superior attitude toward the rest of the world.”

Photo by Todd Buchanan

Marie Christensen

Plastic Surgeon

Park Nicollet Clinic

Why she got into medicine: “I like helping people fit into their bodies and coordinate what’s in their heads with what they see. And I like to fix things.”

What’s most satisfying: “My passion is cleft-lip and cleft-palate work. It’s one of the most rewarding procedures. It’s anatomically challenging and emotionally fulfilling. You’re helping a child, but you’re also helping parents understand and accept the condition.”

On patients’ expectations: “We can make a lot of things better, but the body’s mechanism of healing is scarring, and bodies are individual. There are parts of the process that can’t be controlled. Like my hairdresser used to say, ‘These are hands, not magic wands.’”

Photo by Todd Buchanan

Cheryl L. Bailey

Gynecological Oncologist

Abbott Northwestern Hospital

What’s satisfying about the job: “It’s grim to see what happens to the body, but it’s not grim to be able to help a patient. You can help them if they’re really ill—you can provide symptom relief—and you can sometimes care in other ways, even if the cancer is untreatable.”

The biggest challenge: “Patients being treated for cancer often face severe financial hardships. I’m also involved with the Angel Foundation, which helps cancer patients pay for non-medical emergencies. It’s a fund that really helps.”

On patient responses: “People are so immensely grateful. You realize when you get a cancer diagnosis that life is short, and it really makes people grateful for what they can glean out of their lives.”

Photo by Todd Buchanan

Maria K. Hordinsky


University of Minnesota Physicians

What’s most challenging: “Finding time. I have a lot of enthusiasm for the different facets of my job—administration, teaching, everything else—but it’s challenging to have enough time to carry out everything successfully.”

How she views her work:
“A lot of the patients I see have skin problems that are chronic. They impact quality of life and, in many cases, they have a significant personal effect on the patient. So we try to look at the whole picture. We’re not just treating a disease, we’re treating the whole person.”

What she hears from patients: “The treatment for one particular disease requires multiple injections. Recently, a patient told me, ‘You do this the best. It hurts the least when you do this.’ It made me wonder what I did differently.”


The Mayo Clinic’s emphasis on social media means you don’t have to be a patient (or have a PhD) to get access to the medical center’s best minds. 


Thinking about visiting the Mayo Clinic’s website to get some information on medical research or to pick up some health tips? Trust us, that is so 2008. These days, the Mayo is using social media—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs—to connect and share its expertise with people around the world.

Mayo spokesperson Lee Aase says such social media can serve a critical need by providing in-depth information on niche topics. “We have a 10-minute interview on YouTube about Niemann-Pick Type C, a rare disease that some call Alzheimer’s for kids,” he says. “It’s something people can’t learn about fully in the mainstream media, but there are people starving for this information. We wouldn’t be able to make that available otherwise.”

And the information goes both ways. When Aase saw a Twitter “tweet” about a patient’s experience at the clinic, he got in touch. He ended up visiting the patient, who will be posting about his experience on a Mayo blog. Aase believes there’s much more to come. “We’re looking for creative ways to use these new tools for things like delivering care and monitoring patient satisfaction,” he says.

But for all the new lingo, the goals that Mayo hopes to accomplish through social media are remarkably old-fashioned. “For more than 100 years, people found out about Mayo through word of mouth,” Aase says. “This is how it happens in the 21st century.”


How to Access: Type “Mayo Clinic Facebook” into any search engine
What You’ll Find: Videos about Mayo’s latest news, event information, and research. You can post comments about your experience at Mayo, read about others’ experiences, and discuss Mayo-themed topics with them.
Recent Posts: A story about a man who donated his kidney to his wife on their 30th anniversary; an invitation to a Cancer Survivor’s Day Event.
Bonus: The site isn’t just focused on news—there are also fascinating images from Mayo’s past.

Mayo Clinic YouTube Channel

How to Access:
What You’ll Find: Medical news alerts, recent findings by Mayo researchers, and patients’ stories; links to embed videos on your own blog or website.
Recent Posts: Video clips on managing celiac disease and a report on anti-aging supplement scams.
Noted: The clinic’s YouTube channel is Mayo’s most popular social-media site; it serves as a gathering place for the clinic’s videos.


How to Access:
What You’ll Find: Mayo news and links to additional press coverage
Recent Posts: A link to a story about an American Idol finalist who is also a Mayo Clinic transplant patient, and a link to research connecting vitamin D with chronic-pain relief.
Coming soon: Aase says that the Mayo Clinic may someday follow the lead of surgeons at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital, who tweeted their way through a surgery, describing each step of removing a cancerous tumor from a man’s kidney.

Sharing Mayo Clinic blogs

How to Access: 
What You’ll Find: Positive, personal stories of people who have received care through the Mayo Clinic.
Recent Posts: A story about a breast-cancer patient who ran a marathon a year after her diagnosis; a video of a head-and-neck surgeon talking about collaborative care.
Feels like: Aase says the new site is a sort of an electronic, Mayo-centric version of People magazine.


Minnesota Monthly mailed surveys to more than 5,000 Twin Cities doctors, asking them to nominate up to five “outstanding” doctors in their field of expertise. We sought the names of “both male and female physicians who are especially attuned to the specific needs of their women patients.” More than 500 doctors responded. Of those nominated physicians, 216 received enough votes to meet the threshold established by our staff. The votes of physicians—not advertising or influence of any kind—determine whose name appears on the list. It should be noted that the list of specialties is not comprehensive, but rather highlights specialties that are of particular interest to women.

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Additional listings, including 217 doctors in 28 specialties, can be found in Minnesota Monthly‘s May issue.

Research assistance provided by Melinda Feucht and Emily Strickler.