Working as a small-town physician has its rewards for Amy Varble. Not only does she help others stay healthy, she gets to see familiar faces and continue helping them time and time again.
“There’s always the individual patients that you’ll never forget,” she says. “I had a woman who lived to 103 before she passed.”
As a family physician, she sees all kinds of patients, from youngest to oldest. She also helps deliver newborns. The best part of this experience is not just seeing her patients as tiny infants but seeing them grow into healthy, active children. These moments, she says, are the unforgettable and cherished ones.
“It’s a nice reward when someone comes in with a sore throat, you write them a prescription and a week later they’re much better and they say, ‘Thanks, doc.’ But it’s an even better reward to see kids grow up or people with diabetes lose weight or start medicine.” Seeing the positive long-term effects can be a major reward.
Medicine wasn’t originally in Varble’s plans. She graduated from Stanford University in 1992 with a degree in electrical engineering, then worked with the U.S. Air Force for 4 years.
“It was interesting,” she says. “I got to live in Germany and see a lot of Europe.”
The need to help others was not quite satisfied by this work, however, so Varble eventually returned to school. She attended medical school at Wake Forest in North Carolina for 2 years, followed by another 2 years at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Varble settled in Denver, married and worked as a family physician at the then-St. Anthony’s Central Hospital for 6 years.
The family became acquainted with Buena Vista while vacationing in the mountains. The small town quickly grew on them. Varble “liked the idea of a community where I could see the kids grow up and everybody knows each other and helps keep track of the kids.”
When Dr. John Cottle left Mountain Medical Center, the open position did not go unnoticed. In March 2008, Varble and her family moved to town, and she brought her medical experience with her.
Recently, Varble and fellow doctors have merged with Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center after their small private practice went out of business. The transition to the larger hospital-owned practice was not only big but challenging.
Outside of the doctor’s office, Varble stays plenty active by finding other ways of helping people. She is currently den leader for the local Pack 72 Cub Scouts, in which her two sons have also joined. They have been with the pack for about 5 years now. Her oldest son is soon to graduate to Boy Scouts.
“We took nine fourth graders to camp for a weekend this summer,” says Varble “That was a lot of fun. It’s a good program.”
Varble was a Girl Scout in her younger days and loved the experience. When she saw an active pack in this county, she was thrilled to have her sons involved and to go on camping trips with them.
While steady with other sports programs in town, Varble enjoys the Cub Scout program for lasting through the year, getting kids outdoors and teaching them the characteristics of a good citizen.
“I’m proud to keep the tradition going,” she says. “Our Cub Scout pack is celebrating its 60th year with the American Legion…which has been continuously chartering this pack since 1956.”
“Just like with medicine, I like to see the kids progress and grow up.” To her joy, she has seen the transformation of some of the younger Scouts she’d known who are now in high school as Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts.
The camaraderie she enjoys with her fellow adults adds to the pleasant experience of being part of the pack. “I’ll stick with it as long as my kids are in it,” she says. She plans to transition to Boy Scouts once her sons move up.
From leading Scouts to leading skiers, Varble keeps busy late in the winter. For six Fridays, starting in January, she coaches young skiers through the Cross-Country Ski League.
“As a native Atlantan, I like snow sports. But for some reason cross-country skiing caught my eye,” she says. “I really enjoy the exercise. It’s quiet and you get to see really good scenery while you’re out there on skis.”
Thanks to the Snowdrifters Snowmobile Club for grooming the Collegiate Peaks Campground, teaching kids in the community how to cross-country ski couldn’t be easier.
The league received grant money this year, allowing them to not only provide instruction but also purchase equipment for the young skiers. Dave Bott at Avery-Parsons Elementary School has helped the league by allowing skis and boots to be stored along with the school’s rentable bicycles.
This is Varble’s third year with the league, and she says it “gets better and better every year.”
Want to join the league on its next outing? Check out buenavistaco.gov for registration, or contact the Buena Vista Recreation Department for more information.