Mark McCaulley, MD, FACP
Mark McCaulley: Renaissance man meets Doc Willett
Growing up in Moline, Illinois, Mark McCaulley considered being a doctor or playing drums in a rock and roll band. Lucky for his patients, Mark got hooked on the T.V. show M*A*S*H, which made practicing medicine cool. It was his first nudge toward a rewarding career in internal medicine that is still going strong.
A “medical nerd” at heart, it’s hard to imagine Mark not caring for patients. His comfortable, down-to-earth demeanor and genuine enthusiasm for understanding disease have made him a valuable asset to the Yampa Valley medical community for 30 years. Fresh out of residency, Mark thought starting his career in the hamlet of Steamboat Springs might be a professional compromise. But as he interacted with patients, he was struck by their kindness and appreciation. The revelation of his role in patients’ lives has been both humbling and stimulating. “What we are mostly trying to do as physicians is help our patients understand their conditions and help them feel better.” That simple advice from Fred Platt, the director of Mark’s residency and one of his mentors, has helped ground him through his work’s challenges.
Mark began his medical studies at the University of Illinois, where he also met his soul mate Marilyn, who was studying occupational therapy. They married and moved West for Mark’s residency at Denver Presbyterian Medical Center. In 1982, the couple took a leap of faith, moving to Steamboat and purchasing Mountain Medical Associates from Lambert Orton. The next year, they bought their current home sitting on 16 acres of lush property in Strawberry Park.
Mark and Marilyn’s first child, Colin, was born in 1987, followed by Evan in 1990. They recall those early years fondly, especially adventures in the backcountry with their sons on their backs and crisp mountain air in their faces. Mark and Marilyn remain close to Colin and Evan, now grown and immersed in new endeavors. They take pride in the kind, considerate and hard working men they’ve become. “They’ve really turned in to cool people,” Mark says.
In 1993, Mark sold his practice to Focus Health Services, which later was acquired by Routt Memorial Hospital or Steamboat Springs Health Care Association. He remained as a staff physician until 2001, when he joined Kevin Borgerding and Lambert – who had returned to Steamboat – in buying back the practice. They renamed it Yampa Valley Medical Associates and set up shop at the new Yampa Valley Medical Center campus.
Medical puzzles fascinate Mark, who delves into deciphering complex ailments and infectious diseases. Since 2008, he has been the medical director of the infection prevention committee at YVMC. This year he joined hospital staff in celebrating Consumer Reports’ rating of the hospital as safest in the state – a ranking based in part on YVMC’s low infection rate. “It was pretty gratifying to receive that recognition,” he says. “A lot of blood, sweat and tears go into making the facility as good as it can be.”
Mark’s internal medicine work includes endoscopy. Versed in the procedure during his residency, he continued developing his skills through trainings, reading the medical literature and conferences. He now performs a large share of the endoscopies in Steamboat. Mark diligently stays abreast of the latest medical research and developments. Many mornings are spent on his treadmill, catching up on medical journals. “He works very, very hard to keep up his level of quality,” Marilyn says.
An Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine through the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Mark has provided clinical instruction to medical students for more than 20 years. “I enjoy being around people who are enthusiastic about medicine, take it seriously and are willing to engage in discussions about it,” says Mark, who has earned several teaching awards, including recognitions by students for Teaching in Excellence.
Outside of work, Mark’s curiosity fuels hobbies including woodworking, photography and songwriting. A lifelong music lover, Mark played drums in a college band and has been honing his guitar skills. Every now and then he finds himself behind a drum set at a holiday party or as an “honorary member” of the local band Sundog. Mark deeply appreciates quality time with Marilyn – from evening guitar sessions to moonlight ski excursions – and is grateful for the wisdom and support she has provided throughout his career.
After three decades, the couple’s love for the Yampa Valley continues to grow. They enjoy travel but are more excited about the treasures they have yet to find in their backyard. “I find myself going to exotic places and fantasizing about hiking at home,” says Mark. Getting away from it all can be as simple as hiking through their property, spying moose and camping in their tee pee. About a half-mile up a trail behind their home sits a mountainside deck overlooking stunning views of Elk Park and Buffalo Pass. Every winter friends and neighbors strap on snowshoes and trek to a full moon party on the deck, which Mark constructed himself with beetle-kill lumber.
Mark McCaulley approaches his life’s work with integrity, intrigue and compassion. “I take solace in bringing as much expertise and support as is possible to bring to a case,” Mark says. “In that way, I feel I do as good a job as I can do.” We honor Mark for his dedication to his profession and patients. He is a present-day Doc Willett.