My City 2018 Wellness Awards WinnersCongratulations!


We are proud to profile these winners of our 2018 My City Wellness Awards. Nominations for outstanding health professionals of 2019 begin on August 1.

Athar Baig, MD, FAAP

Occupation: Pediatrician

Education: Medical School – Rajasthan, India; Residency – Hurley Medical Center/ Michigan State University, Flint MI

Affiliations: American Academy of Pediatrics; Chairperson – Department of Pediatrics, Hurley Medical Center

When did you know you wanted to be in health care?

Since I was a kid, I always wanted to be a doctor, wanted to help people.

How did you choose your field?

I enjoy working with kids and young adults.

What is the most rewarding thing about your profession?

I love the fact that kids bounce back very quickly after being sick and it’s a great feeling to help them get better.

What is your number one piece of health advice?

Please immunize your kids. Vaccines are as safe as they have ever been and do not make children sick. There are many diseases which can be life-threatening for kids if they are not given shots.

Catharine (Cathy) Fischer, RD, CDE

Occupation: Registered Dietitian

Education: BS in Dietetics – MSU, Dietetic Internship – Hurley, Master’s in Public Health – U of M, Ann Arbor

Special Training: Certified Diabetes Educator

Affiliation: American Association of Diabetes Educators

When did you know you wanted to be in health care?

I’d always thought I would be a veterinarian from around age 12, and so I started studying animal science in college. I did well in my introductory nutrition course, then realized – when I couldn’t make myself go to my summer job with a local veterinarian – that I really wanted to be a dietitian.

How did you choose your field?

I became interested in diabetes education during my dietetic internship at Hurley, but I preferred working on an outpatient basis because of the deeper relationships I could establish with patients, and outpatient diabetes education did not exist at that time. Fortunately, when I was looking for a job 12 years ago, my current position at Hurley Diabetes Center was available, and it brought me back, full circle, to both Hurley and diabetes education. This field connects my interest in people with a chronic condition that many people find challenging.

What is the most rewarding thing about your profession?

Watching the “lightbulb” go on as patients understand that managing diabetes doesn’t have to be difficult, complicated or restrictive.

What is your number one piece of health advice?

Eating balanced meals that include healthy carbs (whole grains, starchy veggies, fruit, low-fat milk and yogurt), smaller amounts of protein and fat, plenty of vegetables and drinking water throughout the day not only helps manage diabetes, but also helps prevent it and many other chronic diseases (high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer).

Sarah Lee, OD

Occupation: Optometrist

Education: Bachelor of Science in Biology – UM-Flint; Bachelor of Science in Vision Science/Doctor of Optometry – Ferris State University; Pediatric and Vision Therapy Internship – Ferris State University; Management and Treatment of Eye Disease Externship – Illinois College of Optometry

Special Training: Treatment and Management of Eye Disease, Specialty Contact Lenses, Pediatric Vision

Affiliations: Michigan Optometric Association, American Optometric Association

When did you know you wanted to be in health care?

I knew I wanted to pursue the health care field after my second year at UM-Flint. I absolutely loved my biology and anatomy classes.

How did you choose your field?

After deciding on a career in health care, I started shadowing different health care professionals at their workplaces to actually see what that specific job would be like. The optometrist I shadowed truly loved his job and his patients were also happy to have a new prescription to help them see better.

What is the most rewarding thing about your profession?

It is the most gratifying feeling to put glasses or contacts on a patient and watch them smile because now, they can see their world more clearly.

What is your No. 1 piece of health advice?

Eating right, protecting your eyes against UV rays, and visiting your eye doctor annually to make sure your eyes are staying healthy and vision is remaining strong.

John A. Waters, MD

Occupation: Ophthalmologist

Education & Training: Northwestern University Medical School, Specializing in LASIK, Premium Lens Cataract Surgery

Affiliation(s): American Academy of Ophthalmology, American College of Eye Surgeons, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons, Assistant Clinical Professor at MSU College of Human Medicine, Genesee County Medical Society, Michigan State Medical Society, Society for Excellence in Eye Care

When did you know you wanted to be in health care?

I chose to be a physician following a car accident I was in on my 7th birthday. I was quite impressed by the abilities of my surgeon. I knew my future was to do for others what he did for me.

How did you choose your field?

I had great interest in ophthalmology even in college where I studied how the eye developed, and I also had a real interest in capturing how we see the world through photography.

What is the most rewarding thing about your profession?

Some of the most rewarding experiences include helping restore good vision for people. With my younger patients, it’s LASIK and for those over 50, it’s during cataract surgery with focusing lens implants. Both of these procedures keep people leading active lives without glasses or contacts. I’ve also been amazed at how my profession has evolved over the years with advanced treatments to help patients preserve their vision.

What is your No. 1 piece of health advice?

For eye health as well as general health, I recommend regular exercise and avoiding tobacco. I try to practice what I preach and encourage patients to join CRIM training groups with me and to set achievable goals for good health and wellbeing.


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