Being a doctor in a small town can have a big payoff. Just ask Mercy Hospital Aurora’s Dr. Joseph Bizek, who has decided to retire after 38 years.
Dr. Bizek, a Chicago native, graduated from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1969 and completed his residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center (now Rush University Medical Center), where he met his wife. “She’s also from a big city, but we wanted to be farther south where the weather was better,” he said.
So Dr. Bizek set his sights on Aurora, Missouri, where he began practicing in September 1975. At the time, he was fresh off a one-year stint in the U.S. Navy. “They were cutting back in funding and it was the end of the Vietnam War, so I was offered an early release. I took a chance and decided to start a practice in a small hospital.”
As the years went by, Mercy Hospital Aurora (then St. John’s) continued to grow, adding more family practitioners. “In the early 80’s, we built the facility we have across the street from the hospital, which Mercy bought about a decade ago,” added Dr. Bizek. His family also grew. “We built a home just south of Aurora in 1980 and we’ve been there ever since. Our three kids all went to Aurora schools and now we have grandchildren who are active in the Monett community.”
During his time with Mercy, Dr. Bizek offered a variety of services, including endoscopies, gynecological and laparoscopic surgeries and c-sections. By the fall of 2013, he’d been doing outpatient surgery part time, but he decided it was time to move on. “I’m going to miss the relationships I had with the people I worked with in the operating room,” he said. “There’s a special relationship with them. You can talk with them in ways you can’t with people outside that setting.”
So what is his advice for new doctors? “Don’t be afraid to practice in a small town. Don’t rule out that possibility. It can be very rewarding.”
To help Dr. Bizek celebrate his time with Mercy, a retirement reception will be held Friday, May 30, from 1:30-3 p.m. in the Carol Morris Conference Room at Mercy Hospital Aurora. The hospital is located at 500 S. Porter Avenue. Refreshments will be served.