Dr. Eric Thorson – Crested Butte News


The doctor is inside

[  By Dawne Belloise  ]

Dr. Eric Thorson has followed in the footsteps of the medical family he was born into in Fort Collins. Although her parents had busy practices, her mother being a physiotherapist and her father a family doctor, they made time to eat meals together and enjoy family outings and activities. “Dad came home late but we always took the time to spend time together as a family, it was important to us,” he smiles.

As a kid, he did all the usual Colorado kid stuff, biking in the summer and skiing in the winter. “I first learned to ski around the age of five,” he says. “We had just discovered Beaver Creek, which had just opened, so on most of our breaks we would drive to Avon and cram into a small hotel room. Dad was always obsessed, so we always tried to lift the chair first, then the last. Young Eric pretty much followed his older brother around the mountain, eventually making his way to the bumps. “It wasn’t as extreme as here (in BC) but it was definitely a good learning area.”

During his childhood, Fort Collins wasn’t as developed or crowded as it is today, Eric recalls, and there were lots of open spaces with pasture for cows around his house. “You could see Longs Peak straight from the house,” he says, before development in the area blocked that view. “We played in the fields, played football, rode bicycles and built treehouses.”

Eric’s mum was an avid hiker so summer fun for the family included that, although he says his mum wasn’t much of a fan of camping so only the boys in the family took part in this activity. “The other thing my dad was obsessed with was playing golf. I started getting more into it in middle school and high school, so in the summer months we would go to the golf course. Eric joined his high school golf team.

Throughout high school, academics were a priority for Eric, although he also played tenor saxophone in a band. “I was into jazz, so I was in a few school jazz bands,” but that came with a caveat. “We had to be in the marching band. There were a few football games in November where it was freezing cold and I didn’t appreciate that. Eric graduated in 1996.

Eric had liked science in high school and notes that “one of the most beneficial courses was anatomy and it pushed me in that direction, so I thought that was what I wanted to do long term. .” He enrolled at CU Boulder in the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology program, determining that if he did not go to medical school he could work in biotechnology. “It’s a pretty intense program, that’s for sure. I spent a good part of my undergraduate studies in the library and studying.

However, he says, a pivotal moment occurred during his freshman year when he enrolled in a program called Fall Fest. “It was designed to break students into small groups so you can get to know some of the other students in your major on a personal level.” There he met his wife Marsha, who had approached him to help with a lab assignment. They became close friends, spending quite a bit of time together. Eventually the friendship turned into love and they started dating. They got married in 2007. Clearly, the Fall Fest program served its purpose, at least for Marsha and Eric.

Eric graduated from CU in the spring of 2000 and had decided to pursue his career as a doctor, however, he took a little detour initiated by his obsession with skiing and his desire to live in a mountain town. He signed up with the Beaver Creek Ski Patrol and moved to Avon. That summer, he was hired as a medical assistant at a primary care clinic in Vail. “I liked it and it gave me a good experience with the patients and the procedures, but I didn’t like it enough not to go back to ski patrol next winter. He stayed with the Ski Patrol for three seasons while working construction during the summers.

Eric had always planned to go to medical school, and the expiration date for his MCAT entrance exam was fast approaching. “I had to pull myself together, so I enrolled at the University of Colorado at Denver in 2003.” He completed his training in 2007, focusing on family medicine.

Eric did his three-year residency at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, which he completed in 2010. Not wanting to leave the state to start a practice and noting that his love for mountain biking had grown, he and Marsha began considering other towns in Colorado. to move to. He had discovered Crested Butte and its incredible bike paths when he was still living in Boulder.

“I had read about the great trails and came to CB in the fall of 2005. I was blown away by the scenery, the quality of the trails and this awesome little town at the bottom of it all.” He stayed with him and he and Marsha visited CB several times while living in Grand Junction. “We fell in love with the region. We wanted to be in a mountain town. Crested Butte won. Eric sat down to discuss with Dr. Roger Sherman about joining his group. “He recommended spending time during the holidays working at the ski area clinic.” Those two weeks convinced Eric to move to BC “for all the area had to offer”, and they moved here in the fall of 2010 after completing his residency.

Eric then started the Crested Butte Municipal Clinic, which officially opened in January 2011, a new entity that Dr. Sherman co-owned. Marsha worked as an office manager and receptionist. “Things were pretty slow back then, but over the years things have changed,” he says. “We were overwhelmed with the work we were doing and worked seven days a week, not necessarily at the clinic but to keep the clinic running. I was the only one on call, so I took those calls after practice.

In 2017, apart from the success of the clinic, he and Marsha felt drained and exhausted. “The practice was not sustainable for us to continue,” and in 2018 they made a brilliant change that not only helped them, but benefited the community. “We merged with Gunnison Valley Family Physicians and became one of their partners. This allowed the Gunnison Valley Family Physicians Clinic to have two locations, one in Gunnison and one in Crested Butte. We currently have eight suppliers. It definitely expanded our services for sure.

He now has more free time and, as Eric says, “more of a life.” I can turn off my phone. We like hiking a lot and I do a lot of cycling in the summer. I can’t see myself ever leaving Crested Butte. During those first two years, many patients asked me if I had ever spent a winter here. It was a test to see if that person was going to stay, if they were tough enough to survive the winter,” he smiles and adds, “It’s been 12 winters now and people have stopped asking me if I’ve passed winters here. ”

Eric participated as a medical volunteer at the Grande Traverse for seven years. For many years after arriving in CB, he volunteered at the Gunnison Valley Health Fair, interpreting results for patients. “It was a great way to meet people from the community early on.”

Of course, Eric continues to ski and ride his bike. “All my life outdoor activities in the mountains have been my happy place and this area has such a unique atmosphere. As a community there is a community of interest and love for the area. always enjoy being on a distant trail and seeing a patient of mine and striking up a conversation. He is grateful to the community for allowing him to live here all these years. “I look forward to continuing to provide care for years to come. to come.”


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