2013 Health Care Heroes: David A. Josephson, M.D.

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Health Care HeroesWINNER: Physician

David A. Josephson, M.D.

Founder, JWM Neurology

The ultimate compliment for a physician is to be the one that other physicians or health care professionals call upon when they, a family member or a friend need care. When it comes to neurologists, David A. Josephson, M.D., age 66, is that physician.

Bryan Mills, president and CEO of Community Health Network, estimates he’s sent at least 100 referrals Josephson’s way.

josephson03-david-258.jpg(IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

“In every case, I’ve received a follow-up call thanking me for the referral to Dr. Josephson,” he said. “The calls are amazingly similar. Each person is shocked that he was able to see them so soon, treated them as if they were the only patient that he had, and provided explanations that were understandable whether the medical diagnosis was positive or concerning.”

They aren’t receiving special treatment. Josephson has related to patients this way since opening the doors of his private practice in 1975.

“The secret of patient care is caring for the patient, and the most important thing we can do as physicians is to treat patients as if they’re family members,” he said. “It all comes down to that doctor/patient relationship.”

His empathy has its roots in his childhood. Josephson was born and raised in Gary. The diversity of the city helped him develop “people sensitivity,” while frequent doctor visits to treat strabismus (crossed eyes) piqued his interest in becoming a physician. By age 5, his career path was set.

“Even at an early age, I saw how important a person’s health was to their well-being, both in terms of their happiness and what they were able to do, and I saw that physicians were key in that,” he said. “I was extremely interested in working with people and very interested in science, so the combination was absolutely perfect for me.”

After receiving his medical degree from the IU School of Medicine, Josephson completed a residency in neurology at the University of Michigan Medical Center and the IU School of Medicine.

“I found the brain to be the most fascinating part of who we are as people,” he said. “The brain was the most complex and least understood part of the body 40 years ago, and it’s still that way today.”

Josephson started out as a solo practitioner and was later joined by Eliot Wallack, M.D. and John Munshower, M.D. The practice now includes more than 30 physicians practicing in eight locations in central Indiana, making it one of the largest private neurological practices in the United States.

Under Josephson’s leadership, JWM is also one of the most respected neurological practices, balancing the latest scientific knowledge with an empathetic approach to patient care that is its trademark.

In 1976, JWM was the first private practice in the state to employ CT scans of the brain. Nearly 15 years ago the practice implemented Video EEG to see what actually happened electrically when patients with epilepsy had seizures so they could improve diagnoses and treatment plans.

Josephson has also provided leadership and guidance for many organizations over the years, including the Indianapolis Stroke Coalition; the Indiana Neurological Society; the neurology departments for both Community Health Network and St. Vincent Health, including the St. Vincent Neurosciences Institute and the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana at St. Vincent Health System; and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

“Leadership of other physicians is what distinguishes physician heroes from the rest of us,” said Glenn Bingle, M.D., PhD, FACP, chief medical officer emeritus, Community Health Network. “Very few of us can reach this level of attainment. David has gone way beyond the average or ordinary physician in both patient care and leadership. He is extraordinary.”

Serving as an educator is another important piece of who Josephson is. Every year for the last 13 years, JWM has hosted Neurology Update, a full day of seminars on the latest developments in the field of neurology. It’s aimed at educating primary care providers and physicians “on the front line.”

Josephson has served as a Clinical Associate Professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine since 1975 and serves on the faculty for the residency programs at both St. Vincent and Community Hospitals. Senior medical students at IU School of Medicine can elect to spend a month at JWM learning about neurology.

He’s also the only physician who has received Distinguished Physician Honors from both St. Vincent Health and Community Health Network.

Even though he has numerous accolades and accomplishments to choose from, when asked what he considers his most significant achievement, Josephson doesn’t hesitate with his response.

“What I’m most proud of is being able to build up a neurologic practice that is large enough, and diverse enough, and that has practically every sub-specialty of neurology represented,” he said, “while at the same time, making sure that my fellow physicians and our staff do not lose sight of the most important part of what we do every day, and that is caring for each patient as an individual.”• 



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