5/21/2015 9:17:00 AM Mayo Dr. Megan Johnston Flanders enjoys the small-town life of CF
by Ken Haggerty
Whether growing up on a potato farm in Grafton, ND (population about 4,200) to working and living in Cannon Falls (population about 4,000), Megan Johnston Flanders, M.D. at Mayo Clinic Health System- Cannon Falls, says she always enjoyed living in a small town.
"I like recognizing faces when I'm going around town," Johnston Flanders said. "It's nice to be close to the Twin Cities, but not stuck in it." She is a member of First English Lutheran Church and says she has enjoyed the welcome and support from that congregation. "It's nice to feel that support when your family is far away."
Johnston Flanders will have been practicing Family Medicine at Cannon Falls for four years in August. After graduating from Grafton High School where she was active in volleyball, basketball and track, she attended NDSU in Fargo, starting the pursuit of her childhood dream, inspired by her father, to become a doctor. (She says her two younger sisters also ended up in the medical field.)
She majored in Athletic Training with the thought that it would serve as a good background for medical school or as a good health career if she didn't get into med school. She says she was fortunate enough to get into the University of North Dakota Medical School in Grand Forks on her first try.
Besides completing her residency at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana, Johnston Flanders also completed a Masters in Public Affairs in Health Services Management from Indiana University. She says the masters is important in helping her understand and react to the changing world of health care from not only the view of a medical practitioner but also the viewpoint of administrators and the government.
It was just by a quirk of fate that she ended up in Cannon Falls. She says she received tons of flyers in the mail from people trying to recruit doctors, but the only one she ever responded to had some scenic pictures of a small town that was unnamed but was described as 30 minutes south of Saint Paul.
Flanders Johnston had met her husband, Joe Flanders, when she was studying medicine at UND. He was studying law there. The actual first meeting was at an event where the med students played the law students in an annual touch football game jokingly called the "Malpractice Bowl."
Joe has family in his hometown of Pella, Iowa and wanted to be near a metro area big enough to support a law practice. Megan has family in North Dakota and wanted to live in a small town. Living 30 miles south of St. Paul seemed like a good opportunity.
The opportunity in the flyer turned out to be in Cannon Falls. Johnston Flanders said she was comfortable with people she interviewed with like Tom Witt, Glenn Christian and Bill Priest. Adding to her comfort, Johnston Flanders had attended college with the son of Witt.
Her husband ended up establishing a general practice law office in Eagan, with a lot of work in estates, taxes, and wills. The couple lives in a quiet neighborhood just south of Cannon Falls, almost due west of the new hospital and clinic location. They have a four-year old, Ben, and a two-year old, Will.
In her spare time, Johnston Flanders says she likes to garden. What her garden looks like in her head and what it looks like in reality are still two different things at this point, she laughs. She is involved in the planning and establishment of a new garden at the new clinic/hospital location. She also enjoys decorating and tries to run a half-marathon every year.
Johnston Flanders gives compliments to the great team she works with, noting that more and more in the future, health care will come from a team of professionals, not just a single doctor. She says she is very grateful to work in a fabulous new facility. "From where we were to where we are now is amazing," she says.
The Family Medicine work suits her well, she says. "I like that I get to help people stay well, I get to take care of all ages, pre-natal to seniors, I get to establish relationships, and still get to do procedures."
She even still does some sports medicine working with both Cannon Falls and Randolph athletes on concussion management and other concerns. You'll often find her on the sidelines for football games on Friday nights, providing medical care, but also enjoying small town life.