Kirk Ridley, M.D., of Belton’s Southland Primary Care has been named one of Ingram’s Magazine’s Top Doctors for 2023.
The Ingram’s tribute read as follows:
Belton wasn’t a small town when Kirk Ridley began practicing medicine there more than 40 years ago, but it wasn’t far from one. Since then, it’s roughly doubled in size, and Ridley has been there throughout as a pillar of health care for residents and as a civic rock, supporting service clubs, youth development causes, the local historical society, and more. In every sense of the title, he’s been a community doctor – local medical lore holds that he was the first physician to admit a patient when the current medical center opened in town.
Born and raised in this area, he found Belton in the 1980s to have much the same allure as the southern Johnson County of his youth.
“I love the friendliness of its people and the small-town atmosphere of Belton,” he says. “My ambition was to strive to be present where I thought I could really help people.”
A brief flirtation with the idea of becoming a lawyer yielded to that commitment to serve.
“My love affair with the practice of medicine really began when I started medical school at KU, and it has continued and deepened to the present day,” he says. “I am now 70 years old, and I can’t even contemplate retirement, as I enjoy the practice of medicine so much.” So, it’s no surprise that after earning his M.D., he headed off into family practice. That field, he says, “always appealed to me because you really get to know the people that you are taking care of. First, you try to take care of their immediate medical problem, calm their fears, and assure them that they won’t be fighting their illness alone. Then, after that, the real fun begins as you can really try to get to know the person.”
He’s learned that every patient has a story and almost everyone has a passion. “I am usually able to really get to know the patient, their likes and dislikes, and their history and their hobbies or passions,” he says.
“Many of my patients have become good friends over the years, and some even like family.” Like most physicians trained during his era, he celebrates the technological advances that have improved care—same-day availability of specialists’ consultations, CAT scans, and MRIs, and vastly improved pharmaceutical options among them.
The downside? Again, many a seasoned veteran will cite concerns over the battles required to get insurance payment for necessary services and the ever-present web of regulations to navigate.’
Despite those, he says, “being a doctor “allows me to indulge in my passion, and that is to try to help people. I seriously don’t know what can be better than that.”