July 9, 2022 - The recipient of MAFP’s 2022 Michigan Family Physician of the Year Award is Theodore Tangalos, MD of Sterling Heights.
By the age of 10 years old, Dr. Tangalos knew he wanted to be a physician. Always a good student whose favorite subject was science, he pursued an undergraduate degree in biological sciences from Wayne State University, where he graduated magna cum laude.
His desire to serve his community through medicine was inspired by his parents, Greek immigrants who ran a successful restaurant for 30 years in Sterling Heights Michigan. He was raised in Shelby Township and wanted to give back to those communities.
Dr. Tangalos initially selected anesthesiology for his future in medicine and attended medical school at his Alma Matter. As he began this journey, however, he “fell in love” with the all-encompassing family medicine specialty during his third-year clinical rotations, tremendously enjoying the patient relationships, which was the piece he eventually came to realize was missing for him in anesthesiology.
Yet, after earning his medical degree, he forged ahead with his original plan. The newly minted Dr. Tangalos matched into anesthesiology residency and successfully completed his first year of training … and that’s when he realized his calling was to be a family doctor. He transferred to a second-year family medicine resident position at Beaumont Hospital in Troy, where he was inspired by family medicine attendings, faculty, and mentors—especially Dr. Paul Misch and Dr. Cynthia Fisher—and could see his future as he wanted it to be.
Dr. Tangalos’ love for family medicine was also shared by Dr. Steven Kotsonis, a native of Grosse Pointe. The two met in undergrad during a marine biology course in Bermuda and have been best friends ever since, hoping that someday they would practice together. That happened when they founded Silver Pine Medical Group in 1998. Their family medicine practice has since grown from a two-physician, one-site practice to now more than 19 allopathic and osteopathic physicians, as well as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, care managers, and an administrative team at six locations in southeast Michigan.
In addition to traditional primary care, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan-designated Patient Centered Medical Home practice offers physical therapy, after-hours care, in-patient hospital care, and diagnostic and laboratory services. It also operates a vein center and wellness program.
Throughout the years, Dr. Tangalos and Dr. Kotsonis have paid close attention to the needs of their community and surrounding areas and have worked to fill those needs by expanding their practice. Today they provide a comprehensive array of services to address the health and well-being of the whole person, and both agree they have an incredible group of physicians and other care team members who truly have a mindset of compassion towards their patients, who are like family.
Among the Silver Pine Medical Group family is Carol Youngblood, a patient who nominated Dr. Tangalos for this award. Carol shared that she considers Dr. Tangalos not just her doctor, but a friend. She credits him with going above and beyond what is necessary to make sure each patient is given his full attention. It is his art of listening and practice of following up personally with patients that set Dr. Tangalos apart, she explained.
“I believe his highest honor comes from so many thankful patients that he has taken care of so well. He is brilliant in his field of family medicine and is truly a people person. We have been coming to him for about 15 years, and we are so thankful he is our doctor," said Carol.
Dr. Tangalos’ work life also entails being on staff at William Beaumont Hospital, a position he has held for 24 years, and serving as an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine.
While Dr. Tangalos admits it can be daunting to launch an independent practice in today’s world of healthcare administration challenges, he encourages medical students and residents who aspire for private practice to not be afraid.
“The challenges will only make you stronger,” he says.
He credits the success of his now-large group practice to the culture of transparency he has cultivated among his partners and having found like-minded colleagues with whom to advocate for and guide patients through their healthcare needs.
Outside of medicine, Dr. Tangalos enjoys spending time with his wife, Mary, of 27 years—whom he said was his biggest supporter during his transition from anesthesia to family medicine at the beginning of his career and continues to encourage him—and their three children. He attributes his achievements in his career in family medicine to his family’s support and his faith. Dr. Tangalos is actively involved at St. Johns Greek Orthodox Church in Sterling Heights, where he is a council member and past president. He balances his role as a family physician with his love for boating, fishing, and traveling.
Of his family medicine career, Dr. Tangalos said the relationships he has built with individuals, families, and his community has been the most fulfilling.