As a Dartmouth undergrad, Jonathan Thatcher mused on the possibility of living in Vermont. He made a few ski trips up this way while in high school and found the open landscapes preferable to his northern New Jersey home. But his path to a life in New England as an orthopedic surgeon started in an entirely different direction, geographically speaking, when he enrolled in St. George’s Medical School on the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada.
“I sold my house and quit my engineering job to go down there,” he recalls. “Now it’s a huge success, but when I was there the institution had just opened the year before. They had a motel, an old campsite from the World Health Organization, outdoor lecture halls – there was no red carpet. It was really rough but I cherish the experience.”
Jon eventually transferred to Boston University for his last two years of medical school. He returned to Dartmouth for an internship in general surgery and then spent four years at the UMass Medical Center in Worcester for a residency in orthopedics. After that, it was time for him and his wife, Kathy, to try and find their way back to ski country.
There were two job opportunities to consider. The one with Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth, New Hampshire appealed to the same sense of pioneering adventure that sent Jon to Grenada; he would be the sole orthopedic surgeon there. The one at the Keene Clinic offered stability and support. The choice became simple when they looked at a nineteenth century farmhouse for sale in Chesterfield, stepped on the back porch and took in the breathtaking view of Mount Snow in the distance.
“I see patients in the office, come home and go for a run, then relax here on the porch and do my dictation,” he says. They’ve converted a room upstairs into a yoga studio where Kathy, a Kripalu-certified instructor, teaches several classes.
When the Keene Clinic dissolved and became part of Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Jon decided joining Dr. Douglas Lily’s practice in Brattleboro would be a better fit. He liked the scale of Brattleboro and the control he could retain over his practice. Jon looks at the donations he makes to BMH’s annual fund and the contribution he gave toward construction of the Richards building where his offices are located as investments in a mutually beneficial relationship.
“When you’re in a community with one hospital, if they have a good reputation and good equipment it’s going to help your practice,” he says, shrugging off the notion that his donations to BMH are any different than the ones he makes to the educational institutions he attended. “There’s a cooperation and good feeling between the doctors and the administration. I appreciate they’ve set up a good space for me to rent for my practice. I give back to those that provided for me. It’s just the way I am.”