Time out with T.O. - Dr. Sitorius to step down

by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public relations | September 12, 2018

Image with caption: Michael Sitorius, M.D.

Michael Sitorius, M.D.

Accomplishments/growth in Family Medicine

When Dr. Sitorius took over as chair in 1990, the department consisted of 20 FTE faculty members and 36 family medicine residents. The department now has more than 50 FTE faculty and 68 residents.

Dr. Sitorius also provided leadership in establishing many new programs such as the integrated Family Medicine Residency with the U.S. Air Force at Offutt, five rural residency training sites, the Nebraska Area Health Education Center (AHEC), the Rural Health Opportunities Program (RHOP) and the combined Family Medicine/Internal Medicine Primary Care Residency program.

In 2007, the UNMC Department of Family Medicine received the University of Nebraska Departmental Teaching Award. For many years, UNMC has been ranked among the top primary care programs in the country in the annual rankings put out by U.S. News & World Report.

Humble by nature, Dr. Sitorius is quick to pass the accolades to his staff. An example is giving credit to Jim Stageman, M.D., who retired a few years ago, for being a key player in helping UNMC build its rural network.

Mike Sitorius, M.D., the lead architect of UNMC's award-winning family medicine program, is stepping down as department chair.

The man, who has led the department for nearly 30 years, plans to continue as chair through the current academic year and will remain on the faculty after he steps down as chair.

"I've been blessed," Dr. Sitorius said. "It has been and continues to be a new learning experience every day, every year. I continue to work with awesome people who care about the mission of Family Medicine and UNMC.

"We are so lucky to have the opportunity to help people. I learn as much as I teach every day. It's the best."

Under the direction of Dr. Sitorius, the family medicine department has been instrumental in helping UNMC build a 500-mile wide campus across the state.

The department utilizes a network of volunteer faculty, clinics and institutions across the state to host medical students and residents who serve family medicine rotations and residencies at UNMC each year.

It's a template that works and one that is looked upon as a national model for other programs to emulate.

About 70 percent of Nebraska's practicing family physicians have been trained at some point by UNMC's family medicine department. That number grows even higher -- to more than 85 percent -- in areas of the state where there is a shortage of health care professionals.

The Sitorius file

  • 1974 - B.S., Hastings College
  • 1977 - M.D., UNMC
  • 1977-1980 - residency, family medicine, UNMC
  • 1980 - instructor, family medicine
  • 1981 - assistant professor, family medicine
  • 1990 - associate professor, family medicine
  • 1989-1990- acting/interim chair, family medicine
  • 1990-present - chair, family medicine
  • 1992-present - professor, family medicine
  • 1994-present - Milton G. Waldbaum Professorship of Family Practice
  • 2014-2017 - senior vice president of clinic operations, Nebraska Medicine
  • 1991-present - Governor's Rural Health Advisory Commission
  • 2003 - Physician of the Year, Primary Care, Nebraska Medical Center
  • Married 39 years to Marilyn, who graduated from medical school at UNMC and is a radiologist. They have two sons, three daughters and one grandchild.

"I've been blessed. It has been and continues to be a new learning experience every day, every year. I continue to work with awesome people who care about the mission of Family Medicine and UNMC."

Michael Sitorius, M.D.

It all started in Cozad, Neb., where Dr. Sitorius grew up as one of six children. His father, Rodney, was a family physician and his mother, Virginia, instilled in him a love of reading.

Basketball was another passion. Dr. Sitorius played on a high school state championship team his senior year and a state runner-up team his junior year. He went on to play four years of college basketball at Hastings College, winning three conference championships.

As he steps down as chair, Dr. Sitorius said he plans to continue his favorite part of the job -- caring for patients and families.

"Delivering patient care and establishing the doctor-patient relationship is the reason I chose family medicine as a career."

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Lisa Spellman
September 12, 2018 at 2:18 PM

Pilamayaye Dr. Sitorius!

Ileana Fortune
September 12, 2018 at 12:23 PM

You have been truly an inspiration to those who come in contact with you. Your passion and dedication to medicine and your patients is truly admirable! Physicians like you are hard to find, you are truly a gift to UNMC. Thank you for all you do!

Clarence Ueda
September 12, 2018 at 10:29 AM

Outstanding job, Mike, A team player. The force behind RHOP back in the days it was getting up and running.

Barb Switzer
September 12, 2018 at 9:59 AM

I am so glad that Dr. Sitorius will continue to be in the clinic. Our family has come to depend upon his good advice and excellent care. I can think of no better role model for new physicians than Mike Sitorius.

Steve Wengel, MD
September 12, 2018 at 9:38 AM

Mike, You have been (and I trust will continue to be!) a great friend, colleague, and mentor for me. Your work in promoting the health of Nebraska by increasing access to family physicians speaks for itself. I hope this next chapter of your life and career continue to be fulfilling for you!

Jeff Akerson MD
September 12, 2018 at 8:58 AM

What an outstanding career and legacy of family medicine! Through your years of leading, teaching, and training family docs to serve all of Nebraska, you have made the lives of many, many people richer and safer. Thanks!!

Anne Lawlor
September 12, 2018 at 8:57 AM

In addition to his many accomplishments as a UNMC leader, Dr. Sitorius, through his tremendous patient care, saved my Mom's life. He knew when to take the extra time to make sure a reluctant patient would finally tell him how she was truly feeling. All the best to you in this next chapter, Dr. Sitorius!

Lisa Runco
September 12, 2018 at 7:52 AM

Dr. Sitorius has been a true leader and role model for so many at UNMC. His dedication and devotion to making this place great goes well beyond the borders of Family Medicine. Thank you for all you have done, Dr. Sitorius!

Michael Ash, MD
September 12, 2018 at 7:23 AM

Mike's passion for extraordinary patient care and compassion for the care team comes through in every interaction. Mike is unwavering in his commitment to doing what is right and I have the utmost respect for him as a person and as an extraordinary leader. Mike has supported me since day one and has always been both tough, but fair and I am very thankful. I can think of no better accomplishment then impacting over 70% of the family medicine physicians in Nebraska and the countless others that have carried his love of caring for people across the country. What a legacy Mike is leaving!

Jeff Harrison, M.D., professor and vice chair, family medicine
September 11, 2018 at 7:15 PM

Mike has had a long-standing commitment to excellence in patient care and education. The Department of Family Medicine and College of Medicine has a mission to train a work force that meets the needs of the state. Mike has made that mission a central focus of his tenure, providing outstanding leadership and insight as to how best to achieve those goals. He has recruited excellent faculty, supported innovative programs and produced great family physicians that serve the needs of the entire state. We are fortunate to have had him in his role as chair of Family Medicine for the past 28 years.