A medicinal motto

Orzechowski’s belief in saving lives and stomping out disease benefits his patients and his business

In the course of practicing medicine for more than 23 years, Dr. Mike Orzechowski has grown quite used to seeing familiar faces come and go every day.

But just in case he’s curious about the identity of a waiting patient or what’s coming up next, Orzechowski’s daily schedule, a neatly-folded piece of paper, comes out of his pocket.

“I check (the schedule) out several times a day,” Orzechowski said. “It’s nice to know what’s coming next.

“Every morning, I also review each day’s appointments with our healthcare team. From a business and office standpoint, it’s amazing how smoothly things go.”

Within seconds of meeting Orzechowski, it’s easy to understand why he’s such a popular family practice/sports medicine doctor. He exudes positivity and confidence as he tells many a colorful story about a life spent as a patient advocate.

“Save Lives, Stomp out Disease” – Orzechowski also brings his own motto to the examining room.

“I love being a healer, I love making a difference, I love the intellectual challenge of the diagnostic dilemma, and creativity of individualizing the treatment for the best outcome of my patient,” Orzechowski said.

“I knew I could do it"

Orzechowski became the first doctor in his family. He’s proud of his humble beginnings that started in different sections of Southern California. From Watts to Orange County, Orzechowski didn’t let naysayers slow him down.

“You kind of grow up thinking that being a doctor is the best thing you can ever be,” he said. “But as early as Kindergarten, I had people laughing at me when I’d tell them what I wanted to be.

“I knew I could do it, and I really became focused as I got older.”

Orzechowski studied nursing as part of his pre-med education. He said the experience changed him in two ways.

“One way was hoped for, and the other was completely unexpected,” Orzechowski said. “I hoped to develop the compassionate bedside manner and communication skills of my nursing role models. But I did not expect how ingrained being a patient advocate it made me and how important it is to me now as a physician.”

He trained at UC San Francisco Medical School and UC Berkley for a Masters of Health in epidemiology. Orzechowski then rounded out his medical education with a family medicine residency at the University of Washington. The varied experience from San Francisco to Seattle in everything from infants to geriatrics, which included participation in the fight against AIDS/HIV in the earliest stages of the disease’s presence, prepped Orzechowski to look to Alaska and the opportunity to open his own practice.

“Notice the Northern trend?” he said. “I knew I was going to do whatever it took to be the best physician I could be. But inevitably, I wanted to practice in a place in the world where I could raise a family, be here for my patients and really follow my motto.”

Orzechowski likens Anchorage to a “big small town” where he can do healthcare the way it should be.

A real family business

Orzechowski specializes in sports and family medicine. His office is also a real family business.

Orzechowski met his wife Janice in high school. They were lab partners in Biology class.

“Mike did all the work on our labs, and I wrote up all the paperwork,” Janice said. “To this day, I’m still doing most of his paperwork.”

The Orzechowskis have been together for 35 years. Janice works as Dr. Mike Orzechowski & Associates’ office manager. She’s the one immersed in the ever-changing regulations about insurance, billing, coding and all the very important aspects of running a medical office.

But she doesn’t necessarily go it alone. When it came to learning ICD-10, an entirely new coding system, she gave Mike a section of the system to learn every week for three years leading up to it being launched.

“Very few doctors would tolerate that kind of thing, but she’s been my soul mate all this time and I needed help running our business,” Mike said. “Janice has really stepped up to the plate and one of my few regrets is that, as a doctor’s wife, she’s had to work at all.

“You know, I’ve tried to fire her multiple times, but I can’t find anyone near as good.”

Learn more about Dr. Mike Orzechowski & Associates by visiting its Facebook page or Wecarealaska.com/.