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The doctors' choice 

A first-ever physicians’ survey names the top doctors in the state.

The most respected. The most trusted. The safest. That's the doctor you want, right?

But who knows doctors better than other doctors? So the Arkansas Times asked the physicians of the state which of their colleagues they'd go to for treatment, and which ones they'd take their families to.

The Times mailed about 3,000 surveys to physicians across Arkansas last September, using the mailing list of the Arkansas Medical Society. The three-page, 28-question survey, developed by Washingtonian magazine in D.C., quizzed doctors on a great range of subjects: their opinions on health-care reform, what pain relievers they use for their own backaches, which hospital they'd put their own loved ones in.

The survey asked the doctors to name, in 29 medical specialties, who they'd want to treat members of their own families. From these 29 categories, 33 winners emerged. (The 4 extra ones were the result of a 2-way tie for pediatrician and a 4-way tie for family-practice doctor. Perhaps because central Arkansas has half the state's population, 30 of the 33 winners practice in Pulaski County. This might make all the more impressive the wins of those three outside Pulaski County.

We chose Dr. Eleanor Lipsmeyer, rheumatologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Medical Center, as our cover doctor because of the overwhelming consensus in her favor. No other specialist got such a large percentage of the vote in his or her category as did Dr. Lipsmeyer.

Besides Lipsmeyer, we chose five other doctors' doctors to profile separately: Pediatricians Deane Baldwin and Warren Skaug, who tied for first choice; geriatrics choice Claudia Tolleson, dermatologist Wendell Weed and neurosurgeon Ronald Williams.

In general, the numbers of doctors named in each category mirrored specialty demographics, with family practitioners, general surgeons and cardiologist categories having the most "nominees" and gynecological oncology, infertility and physiatry getting the fewest.

Also as a rule, the more doctors named in each specialty, the lower the spread between the "winner" (the physician getting the most frequent mention) and runners-up. The family practice category is the best example of this: There was a four-way tie for most-named physician, and runners-up were only a vote or two off the lead. The exception was thoracic surgery, a big field with a clear winner.

The rarer specialties generally produced the greatest gaps between winner and runner-up. Rheumatology produced a runaway winner, as did the allergy, dermatology, endocrinology, geriatrics, infertility and neurosurgery fields.

Below are the top vote-getters and their first, second and third closest competitors. (Ties often produced more than three names among the prominent mentions.)

ALLERGIST
Top doctor
Kelsey Caplinger, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Gene France, Little Rock; Arvil Wesley Burks, Little Rock; Bill Hefley, Little Rock; Purcell Smith, Little Rock; Edwin Whiteside, Fort Smith.

CARDIAC SURGEON
Top doctor
C. D. Williams, Little Rock
Prominent mention
John Ransom, Little Rock; John Weiss, Springdale; Stephen Van Devanter, Little Rock.

CARDIOLOGIST
Top doctor
Bruce Murphy, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Joseph Bissett, Little Rock; Drew Kumpuris, Little Rock; Charles P. Fitzgerald, Little Rock; David E. Smith, Little Rock.

DERMATOLOGIST
Top doctor
Wendell Weed, Fayetteville
Prominent mention
Renie Bressinck, Little Rock; Burton Moore, Little Rock; Gunnar Gibson, Little Rock

ENDOCRINOLOGIST
Top doctor
Phillip J. Peters, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Lawson Glover Jr., Little Rock; Vivian Fonseca, Little Rock; Ronald Robinson, Fort Smith

FAMILY PRACTICE DOCTOR
Top doctor (4-way tie)
Pat Fields, Little Rock; Stephen Tucker, Little Rock; Dan Watson, Harold Hedges III, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Jamie Howard, Little Rock; Arlo Kahn, Little Rock; Richard Calhoun, Little Rock; Ron Brimberry, Little Rock.

GASTROENTEROLOGIST
Top doctor
Ronald Hardin, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Dean Kumpuris, Little Rock; Michael David Hightower, Jonesboro; Christopher Van Asche, Fort Smith.

GENERAL SURGEON
Top doctor
W. Everett Tucker Jr., Little Rock
Prominent mention
Johnny Jones, Little Rock; Patrick Osam, Little Rock; Paul Osteen, Little Rock; Dale Morris, Little Rock; Kent Westbrook, Little Rock.

GERIATRICS SPECIALIST
Top doctor
Claudia Davis Tolleson, Little Rock
Prominent mention
David Lipschitz, Little Rock; Larry Don Wright, Bentonville; Darrell Craig, Little Rock

INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST
Top doctor
John C. Shultz
Prominent mention
Robert Bradsher, Little Rock; Richard Jacobs, Little Rock; Mark Stillwell, Fort Smith

INFERTILITY DOCTOR
Top doctor
Francisco Batres, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Glenn Weitzman, Little Rock; James Tanner, Little Rock; Michael Miller, Little Rock

INTERNIST
Top doctor
Jeanne Heard, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Steve Johnson, Fayetteville; David Ratcliffe, Fayetteville; Lee Abel, Little Rock

NEPHROLOGIST
Top doctor (3-way tie)
Ron Hughes, Little Rock; Joe Pevahouse, Little Rock; David S. Crittenden, Fayetteville
Prominent mention
John Bayliss, Little Rock; Jim Wellons, Little Rock; Dana Rabideau, Fort Smith

NEUROLOGIST
Top doctor
Coburn Howell, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Walter Steven Metzer, North Little Rock; Lee Archer, Little Rock; Elaine Wilson, Little Rock

NEUROSURGEON
Top doctor
Ron Williams, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Luke Knox, Fayetteville; Zachary Mason, Little Rock; Steve Cathey, North Little Rock

OB/GYN
Top doctor
Gerald Quirk, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Max Baldwin, Little Rock; Reid Henry Jr., Little Rock; Steve Marks, North Little Rock

ONCOLOGIST
Top doctor
Bill Tranum, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Malcolm Hayward, Fayetteville; Anthony Bucolo, Little Rock; Mariann Harrington, Little Rock, Laura Hutchins, Little Rock, Jack Sternberg, Little Rock; Joseph M. Beck, Little Rock.

GYN/ONCOLOGIST
Top doctor
David Barclay
Prominent mention
Groesbeck Parham, Little Rock; David Bard, Little Rock; Juan Roman, Little Rock

OPHTHALMOLOGIST
Top doctor
Carroll Chappell
Prominent mention
P.J. Deer, Little Rock*; Henry Thomas, Little Rock; Charles Henry, Little Rock
*The Times could not distinguish which P.J. Deer, Jr. or III, for whom physicians cast their votes, since both are ophthalmologists. They'll have to share the honors.

ORTHOPEDIST
Top doctor
Carl Nelson
Prominent mention
Lowry Barnes, Little Rock; James Buie, Fort Smith; Richard Nix, Little Rock.

OTOLARYNOLOGIST
Top doctor
James Suen
Prominent mention
Graves Hearnsberger, Little Rock; Joe Colclasure, Little Rock; Guy Gardner, Little Rock; David Hatfield, Searcy; Mike Key, Little Rock;
Reed Thompson, Little Rock

PEDIATRICIAN
Top doctor (tie)
Deane Baldwin, Little Rock; Warren Skaug, Jonesboro
Prominent mention
Susan Keathley, Little Rock; Frazier Kennedy, Little Rock; Virginia Melhorne, Little Rock

PHYSIATRIST
Top doctor
Barry Baskin, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Johnny Kathleen Smelz, Little Rock; Wayne Brooks, Little Rock; Pamela Brown, Little Rock

PLASTIC RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGEON
Top doctor
Robert Lehmberg, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Kris Shewmake, Little Rock; Norton Pope, Little Rock; Gary Talbert, North Little Rock

PSYCHIATRIST
Top doctor
Brad Diner, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Kathleen Thomson-Hall, Little Rock; Max Baker, Fort Smith; Jerry Blaylock, Jonesboro

RHEUMATOLOGIST
Top doctor
Eleanor Lipsmeyer, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Steven Holt, Little Rock; Thomas Kovaleski, Little Rock; Betty Lowe, Little Rock

THORACIC SURGEON
Top doctor
Hugh Burnett, Little Rock
Prominent mention
John Weiss, Springdale; Dale Morris, Little Rock; John Ransom, Little Rock

UROLOGIST
Top doctor
Keith Mooney, Little Rock
Prominent mention
Barre Finan, Little Rock; L.P. Fraiser, Little Rock; Mac Moore, Little Rock; William Higginbotham, Fayetteville, John P. Brizzolara, Little Rock

VASCULAR SURGEON
Top doctor
Robert Casali, Little Rock
Prominent mention
John Eidt, Little Rock; John Weiss, Springdale; Dale Morris, Little Rock; Bob Barnes, Little Rock, Reginald Barnes, Little Rock
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