Career Brings Stucke Home

Dr. Christopher Stucke, DPM, was born at Joint Township District Memorial Hospital. Now the podiatrist works in the shadow of the hospital.
Staff Writer

Christopher Stucke had no intentions of leaving the state when he grew up.

In fact, he wanted to stay as close to home as possible.

College took him to Dayton. Medical school moved him to the Cleveland area.

He's now back in west central Ohio.

Stucke, a Maria Stein native, is in the midst of his first full year as a podiatrist in St. Marys at Grand Lake Foot and Ankle Center, a member of Grand Lake Health System and Joint Township District Memorial Hospital.

"The end goal was always to make it back to this area," said Stucke, who lives in Chickasaw with his high school sweetheart Kimberly and their 2-year-old daughter Willow. "I was born at Joint Township Hospital so now it comes full-circle. Now I'm employed by them and made it back to my hometown area."

The former Marion Local Flyer was a three-sport athlete having won two football state championships while also playing basketball and baseball.

He later played football at University of Dayton. Although he always had an interest in pursuing a medical degree, it was ankle injuries he sustained as an athlete that helped him specialize which area he wanted to practice.

"Being in sports, rolled ankles, ankle sprains, (I've) been in training rooms so that kind of initially got me interested in it (and) just going to doctor's visits," he said.

Stucke was on the UD football team for one season, then was forced to make a decision. Since it is a non-scholarship program, he had to choose between being a Flyer football player or pursuing medical school. The time constraints of doing both didn't seem feasible to him.

He stuck with his decision, and while an undergraduate student he went on job shadows with doctors in a range of medical specialties.

Stucke got a glimpse of the day-to-day routine of a foot and ankle doctor, and it's what he grew a liking too the most.

When it came time for him to apply to podiatry school, the choices were limited; there are only nine accredited Podiatric Medical Colleges by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education.

He quickly zeroed in on one — Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine — which would help keep him in the Buckeye State.

"It's one of the better ones and it is the only one in Ohio," Stucke said. "I was born and raised in Ohio, stayed in Ohio all my life."

In addition to Kent State, Stucke was accepted to a podiatry program at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago.

"I actually interviewed at the Chicago one but decided to stay in Ohio," he said. 

Stucke's favorite part about being at Kent State was bonding with the other med students and going through the entire program together. He said the university had student-run clinics and they were able to bounce ideas off of one another.

After his time at Kent State, Stucke did his residency at St. Rita's Medical Center in Lima, remaining never more than a couple hundred miles away form his hometown.

When Eugene Little Jr. retired from his practice at Foot & Ankle Centers of Ohio, Inc., 1013 E. Spring St., Stucke inherited the building and about half of the clientele.

He started working for JTDMH on July 1, and moved into his building the following month.

Word of mouth has certainly helped him build a base of new patients, especially from southwest Mercer County, but it was getting patients from Auglaize County that presented the biggest challenge.

Another tough part of the job, he said, was gaining respect of some of his elderly patients because of how young he is. He'd get asked questions about his relative youth and lack of experience.

It's becoming less and less of an issue, though.

"I would counter that and say being fresh out (of med school), you're kind of up-to-date on the latest, newest technology, treatment plans, protocols.

"You have the freshest skill set."

Stucke, who is expecting his second child in May, said the best part about his career so far are the patients.

"It's a blue-collar, hard-working area," he said. "You don't always see it when you get into bigger cities — people come in with injuries and essentially those injuries seem to drag on. Whereas people here want to get better."

Stucke's most common ailment he treats is heel pain most typically associated with plantar fasciitis. He said he also treats a lot of ingrown toenails, nail care for diabetics and routine foot care for diabetics.

Stucke's sees patients weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.