In his previous life, Richard Bennett conducted postdoctoral research in neurodegenerative disease after graduating with his PhD in Molecular Biology from the Mayo Clinic. During this time, he began volunteering at the Great Falls, Montana hospital and saw the benefits of being able to give back by treating patients in a very tangible way.
“With research, the hope is that someday it will make a difference to people. You never fully realize this vision as you’re always building on the backs of others and they’re building on you, so you don’t always see a direct benefit to people’s lives. In medicine you do see this; with one simple procedure, someone can be pain free.”
This refocus from research to care led Richard to Yale University where he earned his Physician Assistant degree. He went on to teach as a professor in the Physician Assistant Program at the University of Charleston in West Virginia. But having grown up in Hansen, Idaho, a town of 700 people, Richard felt eager to return to the small town lifestyle.
“I saw the ad for this job [at BMC] and wanted to move closer to home in the intermountain West,” Richard says. “This was a very good place to do that.” In fall of 2013, Richard moved from Charleston to Cody with his wife Diane and their three children.
One of Richard’s greatest goals in becoming a physician assistant was to bring a high standard of medical care to rural communities.
“People in rural communities often don’t have access to well-qualified doctors,” Richard explains. “I wanted the opportunity to help people in a rural setting, where many patients really rely on PAs’ ability to come to them in outpatient clinics.”
At Bighorn Medical Center, Richard feels he has found a setting to utilize all his experience in furthering causes he cares about.
“What attracted me here was Dr. Schmidt and Dr. Lee and their ideas for the cadaver lab as well,” Richard says, referring to the surgeons’ plan to conduct cadaver research in Cody. “It gave me a good opportunity to use both my clinical skills and my previous life as a research science to do some new and interesting things in an area it hasn’t been done in before.”
Cody also provides a place for Richard to partake in road biking and his first love, mountain biking. He regularly competes in 24-hour mountain bike races where contestants ride as many laps as possible in 24 hours of a course. Whoever bikes the farthest distance within the 24-hour period wins the race.
In addition to racing, Richard mountain bikes recreationally on the Slick Rock trails around Oregon Basin, on the Outlaw Trails by Newton Lakes, and on Cedar Mountain. He also enjoys fishing and hunting, with upland game, specifically pheasant, being his favorite quarry.
Above all, Richard emphasizes, “My favorite thing to do is to spend time with my family.”
Richard hopes to show people of the Cody community that they are attended by PAs who are very good at and also very passionate about what they do.
“I think it’s important for patients to understand where I come from and my dedication to quality patient care,” Richard says. “I am well qualified and, most importantly, I am there for the patient.”
View Richard’s video bio here.