Drew Miller selected as 2021 Kansas Family Physician of the Year

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Leoti native Drew Miller has been named the 2021 Kansas Family Physician of the Year by the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians. Miller works at Kearny County Hospital, where he has been for nearly 11 years.

Kearny County Hospital's Drew Miller, MD, FAAFP is the 2021 Kansas Family Physician of the Year. The honor has been announced by the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians. 

Miller was surprised to receive the award. 

"I was just especially honored to be selected, there are a lot of great family physicians throughout the state who would be very deserving of that award," he said. "I was definitely surprised and honored to receive it. It was encouraging."

Since receiving the award, Miller said one phrase that's continually come to mind about being a rural family medicine practitioner is a heavy privilege. 

"It's a privilege because we get to take care of people and they put their trust in us as physicians, but it's heavy because a lot of times that means that we walk them through some very difficult moments, the most difficult moments, often," he said. "So, heavy privilege is a work I come back to again and again as far as describing what I do, what I enjoy."

Miller said he loves practicing family medicine because he gets take care of patients across the spectrum of their life, from birth to death.

"You get to try to put all the systems together into a big picture and take care of that person as an individual and I get to care for everyone from newborns to the most elderly patients," he said. "That's what I love about family medicine." 

Kansas native, University of Kansas graduate

A native of Leoti, Miller graduated from Wichita County High School in 1998 before attending Sterling College. He graduated from Sterling in 2002 with two bachelor degrees, one in mathematics and one in biology. 

Miller said he originally wanted to be a math teacher, however between his sophomore and junior years of college he shadowed Dr. Blair Gill in Scott City, and after seeing his interactions with his patients and how he was able to serve them in a rural setting, changed his mind. 

"I was very impressed with that. He was a good teacher, he taught his patients well, he spent time talking with them, he knew them, he knew their families and in that I felt like he was able to provide great medical care," he said.  

He worked for about a year at Abbott Pharmaceutical Labs in McPherson as a chemistry analyst. He later attended the University of Kansas School of Medicine for medical school, graduating in 2007. 

Miller did his residency at Via Christi Hospital in Wichita from 2007-2010 before starting at Kearny County Hospital in Lakin in October 2010. 

He and his wife Rachel have been together 19 years and have four children, Emma, 13, Kate, 10, Luke, 8, and James, 6.

Practicing family medicine in a rural area

Full-scale family medicine in a rural setting is a passion of Millers, which is why he decided to practice in a smaller community.

Growing up in rural Kansas made him see the need for quality care in the rural setting, Miller said.

"I was especially drawn to the relationships you can establish in a rural setting that sometimes are harder to establish in a bigger place," he said. "I love family medicine because we take care of families and I feel like you can do that in a very rewarding fashion in a rural area."  

He believes that obstetrics as a part of family medicine is important, especially in a rural setting, and Kearny County Hospital already has a developed obstetrics line. 

"I still think obstetrics is a really powerful part of medicine because it's one of the only healthy things that we get to be a part of in medicine," he said. 

Outside of his practice, Miller also serves as the Kearny County Health Officer. 

The Kansas Academy of Family Physicians said the combination of service to individual patients and the community at large made him a great choice for the award, which recognizes KAFP physician members who are deeply involved in promoting health in their community. 

Miller said the people he take care of in his community are his neighbors, children's teacher and his friends, so the relationships he develops are not constricted to the hospital.

"I see them at the grocery store, sit beside them at high school football games and coach their kids in rec sports," he said. "These relationships are built not just in the four walls of the exam room, but in interacting with people over time in the course of everyday life." 

Other 2021 awards given include:

  • Rising Star - Teresa Rohrberg, MD, of Wichita's Department of Family and Community Medicine 
  • Kansas Exemplary Teaching Award (Full/Part Time) - Tracy Williams, MD, FAAFP, an associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita
  • Kansas Exemplary Teaching Award (Volunteer) - Shelly Gruenbacher, MD, preceptor for the University of Kansas Medical Center in Northwest Kansas (Quinter)
  • Humanitarian Award - Lee Norman, MD, FAAFP, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment