Dr. Steven Radi's office has no windows, but it's just the way he likes it. When he arrived six years ago as medical director for the Lauderdale Health Center, he was offered a larger office overlooking the campus. Instead, he chose a cozy nook in the middle of the hall, where the action and interaction with students takes place.
"I'm a product of the SUNY system," Radi said, reflecting on twenty years of study and practice in the medical field. He spent two years in SUNY Farmingdale and then transferred to Cornell's statutory college, where he received his bachelor's degree. He finished his residency at Wilson Memorial Regional Medical Center in Binghamton, and followed what he saw as the next logical step: to enter a private practice group. Despite its esteemed reputation, the group's focus on the bottom line exceeded its motivation to serve patients. Radi rejoined Wilson hospital to teach residents and practice there.
"I became very interested in primary care sports medicine, and there happened to be a certification program in the early '90s," he said. His credentials in this area led him to SUNY Binghamton and his first experience with college health care. "I decided that college health brought together all of my training and skills," he said.
Having worked with the elderly through Veteran Affairs, his philosophy was that making an impact on young adults could save them from a lifetime of bad health habits and ultimately terminal illnesses. "The emphasis here, in my mind, is not just clinical medicine," he said, "but the opportunity to impact and educate people at every turn about healthy lifestyles."
At Geneseo, Radi sees his role as physician aligned with the role of all other faculty as teachers. His mission encompasses the full spectrum of serving students, including things such as teaching them about the health care system, testing them for STIs and helping them quit smoking. Of course, his immediate responsibility is to treat patients. "But hopefully we're getting a message across that they'll take out of here, besides treating their sore throat," he said.
The opportunity to educate may be the most rewarding aspect of Radi's job, but it is also one of the most challenging. "There are students who I see multiple times for the same types of issues," he said, "and it's hard sometimes to make the impact you want to make for the future of their health."
Radi considers his position at Geneseo to be the best job he has ever had, and he credits it to student interaction. "It's fun to get up every day and go to work," he said. "I like the collaborative family feel of the college. I like that I see almost everybody in four years." He admires the bright minds of the student population and is delighted to have students coming in who have already researched their symptoms and diagnoses. "My discussions with them are really from the point of view of someone who is learned and interested, and it's great to deal with people like that," he said.
As the medical director, Radi often finds it difficult to fit administrative duties into a five-day schedule booked with patients. He considers "service to the students" to be the highest aim of his work, and "would really like to get out more on the campus and do some more presentations on subjects of student concern." Nevertheless, having an administrative position does afford some important advantages. Radi has more of a hand on public health, and he considers his involvement with proactive health committees to be both interesting and important.
While he enjoys a variety of activities, as a casual tennis player and history buff, Radi is most passionate about his family and his work. With the walls of his office covered in family photos and a stethoscope around his neck, he is genuinely enthusiastic about his lot in life. There is little separation between his life as a family man and his life as a doctor. Radi has three children, one of whom, Michael, is a sophomore at Geneseo. Radi stays well-informed through medical journals, though he said he is largely disappointed by the evolution of medicine in the past two decades of his career. Not only does it tear him up to see more students each year without health insurance, but also to see the health care system of the United States driving physicians out of private practice.
Radi feels fortunate to be sheltered from many such issues in college health, which is funded almost entirely by student health fees each semester, but he expressed his concern for students who will face these issues when they graduate. In the meantime, Radi intends to serve the student body of Geneseo in every way he can. "It never fails day by day to be interesting and surprising," he said.