Clad in what could best be described as an immaculate, Air Force-blue suit, Dr. Brandon Isaacs seemed to — at least momentarily — stare intently and directly into the eyes of each and every one of the colleagues who had assembled around him for his farewell celebration. A few feet away, a cake adorned with the red-frosted-words “Best Wishes, Dr. Isaacs” served as a commemorative offering to the man who’s remaining time as Pacific Northwest University’s Associate Dean of Postdoctoral Education wasn’t much longer than the shelf life of the cake itself.
“I came here because of the mission,” said Dr. Isaacs. “I’ve always had this vision of finding a way to meet the needs of not only the people in the place where I grew up, but in small towns where rural health care… how do I say it?” His jaw clenched as he searched for the words to accurately describe the communities he was, and is, so committed to assisting. “There are still small towns out there where rural health care sucks. It sucks bad.”
Growing up in a small rural town with a population of less than 1,000, Dr. Isaacs’ unmistakable passion stems directly from the healthcare experiences that helped to shape not only his life, but the life of everyone around him. When he was a child, the lone doctor in his community committed suicide. That loss brought uncertainty to just about every facet of his life.
“I didn’t get immunizations when I was a kid,” he explained. “I got the disease. I had mumps. I had measles. I had chicken pox. I think about my little brother, who had to go to school with a cotton ball stuffed in his ear that was covered in Vics, so people couldn’t smell the drainage from his ear infection. To this day he has no eardrum on that side, because we had nobody to take care of us when we were kids."
Offered a rare glimpse into a stoic man of few words, Dr. Isaacs’ PNWU co-workers listened intently as he verbally animated the importance of the work they were all hired to do. In what would be one of his final opportunities to address those who would continue that work, however, the rapidly approaching end was not bitter but, instead — like the icing on the cake that rested beside him — sweet.
In transitioning away from his role as PNWU’s Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Education, Dr. Isaacs will take on the challenge of serving as the Continuing Program Director for the nearby Central Washington Family Medicine Residency. In his new role, his passion for bringing quality healthcare to rural and underserved communities will only evolve, with more opportunities to shape the next generation of mission-driven osteopathic physicians.
“What we do in this profession is just now scratching the surface of what we can do,” said Dr. Isaacs, looking out for a final time at his PNWU colleagues. “I’m very proud of what I’ve done, and of what I stand for, and I hope to continue that work.”