FAIRMONT - Sundara Nalla was the oldest of five children living in Andhra Pradesh, one of the four southern states of India, and his father, a civil engineer, had his heart set on his son becoming a doctor.
It was a goal Nalla shared, one that would bring him across the world after graduating from medical school in India in 1981.
"The seeds were sewn when I was in high school," he said. "They were implanted, and I didn't know anything else."
His first stop was Jamaica, since it had a U.S. medical exam center. He stayed three years, working as a physician while he studied for the exams. From there, he journeyed to New York City, where an employer sponsored his green card.
He did an internship at Harlem Hospital Center, and then a second one brought him to the Midwest, where he has remained since 1988.
Dr. Nalla, who works in family medicine, recently began seeing patients at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont. He comes to the medical center after spending 21 years with Avera in Worthington.
"I was looking for a hospital with a hospitalist program, and I wanted to stay in a small town," he said. "Usually you don't find hospitalist models in a small town."
The Fairmont site launched its hospitalist program in June of last year, and since then six new providers have signed up for duty, including Nalla. Previously, physicians cared for their patients in the clinic and the hospital, which sometimes caused complications if a physician needed to be in two places at once. Under the new model, separate hospital physicians provide round-the-clock care for hospitalized adult patients.
"I like the idea of dependable backup care for my patients," Nalla said.
This is not the first time he has worked in Fairmont. During the summer, he worked here part-time to get a better feel for the place and see if it would be a good fit.
"I liked what I saw and experienced," he said.
When looking for other facilities with the hospitalist model, Nalla's search focused on the Midwest, an area of the world he has loved since he first moved here for his residency at Hennepin County Medical Center.
"I stayed in the Midwest because of three things: the low crime rate, good public education and affordable cost of living," he said, adding that he and his wife have good friends throughout the region.
The couple have two daughters, one a first-year medical student, and the other a junior in college.
The family enjoys traveling. They have visited almost all the national parks in the United States, and they return to India to see family every two to three years.