Back to Where it Began

stethoscopes on table

June 27, 2023
By Cindy Hval

Three physicians, who attended the University of Washington School of Medicine in Spokane, have returned to launch their careers in our community.

Dr. Ben Arthurs

Dr. Ben Arthurs Headshot

Drawn to math and science, Ben Arthurs thought he’d be best suited to a career in engineering or research, but as an undergrad at WSU, he discovered a different calling.

“I volunteered for a hospice in the Palouse,” he recalled. “I found I had this appreciation for being with someone and talking with them as they approached the end of life.”

The experience proved transformative, and Arthurs decided to pursue medicine.

He’d grown up in Richland, Washington, and when he applied to UWSOM he chose Spokane for his first year of medical school in 2008. He spent his second year in Seattle before returning to Spokane for his last two years.

“I wasn’t sure what residency to apply for until the last minute,” he said.

Mentors and mystery led him to internal medicine.

“I developed a lot of mentors like Matt Hollon in internal medicine,” said Arthurs. “I loved the challenge of solving the mystery to discover a diagnosis.“

Hollon, also a UWSOM graduate, is now a clinical professor for the University of Washington School of Medicine, which has forged a partnership with Gonzaga University in Spokane to improve health in the region.

Arthurs completed his first year of residency at Stanford University but when a slot opened in Spokane for his second and third year, he jumped at the chance to return.

“My wife is from Spokane, a UW graduate and a PA (physician assistant) with a degree from the University of Washington MEDEX program,” he explained.

After residency, Arthurs completed Fellowship training in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland.

In 2018, he returned to Spokane with his family, joining MultiCare Rockwood Clinic as a board-certified Pulmonologist and Critical Care physician.

“It was an easy decision for us to come back,” he said. “It’s a family-friendly city. And I love my job. Every week is different. I use what I learned as a hospice volunteer in my role as a critical care physician. And pulmonary medicine isn’t a huge specialty, so I get to do a lot of diagnostic procedures.”

His decision to work in Spokane delighted the MuliCare team, which tapped his expertise to serve as a clinical leader during the Covid 19 pandemic.

“We're lucky to have world-class medical schools right in our backyard. The partnership that MultiCare has formed with UWSOM only continues to make our community a great place to receive care,” said Kevin Maloney, communications media relations manager (INW) and MultiCare. “As a graduate of UWSOM, Dr. Arthurs is an excellent example of great doctors returning to our community to provide care.”

Dr. Kelli McEntee

Dr. Kelli McEntee, another UWSOM graduate who launched her career in Spokane, was a music major at the University of Washington when a biology class changed her life's trajectory.

“I'm a violinist and thought I'd be a professional musician," she recalled. "When I was a teenager I'd faint at the sight of blood. But then I took a biology class-- we dissected a pig's heart, and I loved it!”

As she contemplated the long solitary hours of violin practice ahead of her, she realized two things: she missed people and she was passionate about science.

McEntee shifted gears and applied to medical school. She spent her first year (2012) in Spokane.

“My class was the first to be offered their second year in Spokane,” she said. “So I had the opportunity to stay.”

“I did a C-section during a rural family medicine rotation,” said McEntee. “I felt at home. The rhythm of the OR—the intensity of focus and teamwork. I fell in love with it. I thought this is my happy place.”

A surgical rotation in Spokane with Columbia Surgical Specialists confirmed her passion.

She completed an Obstetrics & Gynecology residency at the University of California Davis, followed by a fellowship in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery (MIGS) at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.

“Something about this patient population tapped into my passion for advocacy,” she said. “I wanted to help women suffering from painful, heavy periods and endometriosis. I admired their strength and resiliency.”

After completing the fellowship, she elected to return to Spokane to work with the same group that introduced her to surgery as a student—Columbia Surgical Specialists.

“My husband and I loved living in Spokane. We’re outdoorsy people,” said McEntee. “And from a professional standpoint, this is just an incredibly supportive and collegial medical community.”

Also important, she knew her training in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery will be a much-needed piece of patient care in the area.

“My heart is to serve women who need specialized care, and I felt like this is a place I can make an impact.”

Dr. Carriann Shae

During her undergrad studies at Montana State University (MSU), Dr Shae heard a lot about the UW School of Medicine.

“MSU is a WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho) site, and I heard about the program’s dedication to provide physicians for rural, underserved areas and to offer medical students experience working in those areas,” she said.

That attracted the Wenatchee, WA. born and raised student who began her first year of medical school in 2014 in Spokane.

“In my second year, we were offered the choice to continue our studies in Spokane or go to Seattle, and many of us chose to stay,” said Shae. “I really liked the program-- we were so well-trained. I feel lucky I ended up in Spokane."

She knew early on that she wanted to be an Ob-Gyn generalist.

“I shadowed local OBGYN Dr. Stephen Pakkianathan, also a UWSOM Teacher of the Year recipient, throughout my first year,” she recalled. “I wanted to help women. We are often the last ones to take care of ourselves because we are so busy caring for others.”

Shae completed her Ob-Gyn residency at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California in 2022.

“My husband is from Eastern Washington, too, and we always planned to come back to the area,” said Shae.

She was delighted to discover the physician she'd shadowed during her first year of medical school had the perfect place for her as she entered her professional career.

“Dr. Pakkianathan is now my partner at Inland OBGYN.”

After four years in the Bay area, she said she welcomed the opportunity to return to a community where the pace of life provides a healthy work/life balance.

Shae will become a preceptor for UWSOM-Spokane and welcomes the opportunity to mentor medical students, knowing that a positive experience may well result in them returning to work in the community.

“Spokane likely would have not on my radar had I not done much of my training here,” she said.

Learn more about the UW-GU Health Partnership