2012 Forty Under 40: John M. Kunzer

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John M. Kunzer
Where were you, and what were you doing in 1991?
At John Adams High School.

When you graduated from high school, what did you think you wanted to be as an adult?
A physician.

Was there an event in the last 20 years that had a great impact on your aspirations and/or career path?
Working summers at an underserved community health center. Mowing the yard, sweeping the parking lot, then answering the phones, then working the front desk … helped me see all aspects of care and how important other member of the health care team are.

Where/what do you want to be 20 years from now?
Continuing to serve others in the office, community and at the health system level.


Medical director of primary care, Wishard Health Services
Age: 35

John Kunzer credits his success to a long list of mentors, starting with his grandfather, a chemistry professor who took him to his office on Sundays and stressed the importance of education. Then there were his parents—mom, who told him “you’re not perfect,” and dad, who counseled “make sure you do something you enjoy”—and Drs. Mary Ciccarelli, Phil Merk, Mitch Harris and Ann Zerr, who taught him to be a leader and educator.

Whatever they said must have worked: Kunzer is the youngest physician to be named the medical director of primary care for Wishard Health Services. He oversees 14 practices that handle 230,000 patient visits each year.

“I was raised to try and do the best you can and to work hard,” Kunzer said. “It’s probably just the product of those things.”

Kunzer spends roughly 40 percent of his work hours practicing at Blackburn Community Health Center, 50 percent in administration overseeing doctors in Wishard Primary Care and about 10 percent teaching.

He likes the direction health care reform is going, with “wraparound” services from a health care team that might include a dietician, social worker, case manager and financial counselor, with the physician serving as team leader.

“I think with health care reform, what you’re going to see is much more demand for accountability from the health care system, which is a good thing.”

He also sees the wraparound approach working well in Fathers and Families Center, He serves on the board of the center, which prepares young men to be fathers. (Kunzer just became a father himself; he and his wife, Amanda, adopted a 2½-month-old boy.)

“Sometimes the problems seem so overbearing for one person to solve,” Kunzer said. “I think all of us want to try to do it, but sometimes we get a little discouraged. These wraparound services show that partnerships with a team, with community-based organizations and with the people you’re serving, are the best approach.”•


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  1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

  3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

  4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.