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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