“If any of you guys can’t pee, you’re probably going to call me.” Not the most typical introductory line, but urologist Dr. Theodore Ning has actually used it when he drops into a new Rotary Club meeting while on a locum tenens assignment. Then again, Dr. Ning isn’t your average physician. Besides being involved with Rotary, Ted Ning is a humanitarian intent on using education to help women lift themselves out of poverty.
A graduate of Northwestern and the University of Colorado, Dr. Ning was a clinical professor training residents at UC’s medical school. He also had a successful private practice. At age 50, to the astonishment of his colleagues, he left his practice and followed his heart.
Following your passions
For the last seven years, Dr. Ning and his wife, Connie, have visited Vietnam twice a year to help strengthen communities through medical education and supplies. Now that he was “retired,” Dr. Ning planned to partner with our Weatherby Healthcare division to work temporary assignments in cities of his choice, leaving him time to devote to humanitarian projects in Colorado, Vietnam, and Guatemala.
“It’s been a great balance and Weatherby has been a big part of that,” he says.
Matthew Fort is a physician consultant at Weatherby Healthcare. He and Dr. Ning have been working together for more than five years. Not long after Dr. Ning started doing locum tenens work, he and Matthew had a candid conversation. Ning tells it this way: “You know, Matt, I’m getting called by four or five different outfits (staffing companies) monthly. I need to settle on one person I trust, so I’m going to trust you.”
That’s probably because Matthew gets it. He knows what’s important to Dr. Ning. He lines up locum tenens assignments that allow Ning to share his medical expertise and still have time for the humanitarian work he’s passionate about. He knows Ning prefers assignments that don’t require a full day’s worth of travel each way. A chance to work in hospitals with cutting edge equipment and research. And if the city has a Rotary Club where Dr. Ning can make a pitch for his volunteer projects, that’s even better. Ning says, “I’ve been able to get to know the Rotary Clubs to the point that they’re willing to support the projects that I’m working on.”
Making a difference on a global scale
Ning and his wife, Connie, have been working with indigenous people in Guatemala for more than twenty years. In that time, they have helped build a school and created a women’s microcredit and education program that serves 25,000 families. They have also helped fund the college education of 50 indigenous young women.
“They are the ones who will lead the future in terms of what’s possible with education,” he says.
For his tireless volunteer efforts, he received the 2019 Humanitarian Award from the University of Colorado School of Medicine Alumni Association.
“Everyone is always wanting me to go back into fulltime practice and I just say no,” Ning says. “It would take too much time in my day and too much of my energy. That’s where Weatherby has been so helpful.” He says Matthew always has plenty of options for him “but he’s not jamming it down my throat.”
He loves practicing medicine and brings critical expertise to each assignment. “Here I am as a urologist, but I’ve diagnosed skin problems. I’ve diagnosed a new case of diabetes, a new multiple sclerosis. You’re focused on the urinary tract, but you have to have your windows open thinking about, ‘What could this be other than a simple problem?’”
He also loves the chance to meet new people and provide a valuable service to patients.
“The other thing I like about these assignments is the people are so appreciative. I find that every staff that I work with, they’re so grateful that you’re there to help them if something should arise,” he says. “You find more commonality in people than you think. I’ve enjoyed every one of my assignments.”