But looking back, Flink reflects on a career filled with the tenuous mystery-solving that comes to internists in pursuit of a diagnosis as well as some divine intervention along the way.
A career spent building relationships
Flink is somewhat of a fixture at Hancock Health, joining in 1980 shortly after completing medical school and his residency. He recounts the frenetic schedule of his early years that included 12 days out of two weeks spent on call 24/7. “I was one of the only internal medicine physicians working at Hancock Regional,” he says. “I had my own practice treating those patients but also tended to patients at the hospital who had complicated illnesses requiring an internist.”
That grind gave way to a calling to pursue a ministry more than 7,000 miles away. Flink, his wife, and two sons moved to China, primarily to spread the Christian gospel. They put those principles into action, with Flink serving as a physician and his wife a teacher at an international school. During that time, Flink came to realize something that would profoundly impact his vocation. “I made the surprising discovery that I really enjoyed the relationships with people, not just diagnosing and treating a disease but taking care of someone with whom I had a relationship,” he explains.
He returned to Hancock Regional to serve patients within the community, empowering them by forming relationships and helping them to gain a better quality of life by managing chronic or acute conditions. That approach earned him recognition among his peers and an appointment as medical director of the Hancock Physician Network in 2014.
It was an offer he initially rejected but reconsidered at the urging of his wife and son. “I had no interest in administrative work, but I prayed about it and felt like the Lord called me to do it,” he says. Nonetheless, trying to do two jobs — that of physician and that of administrator — was pretty overwhelming. He turned his full-time attention to that of medical director. And in that role, he sees himself as an advocate for his peers. Laments Flink, “I really care about our doctors, nurse practitioners, and support staff and want to speak on their behalf.”
Flink admits the position came with a number of challenges, especially during 2020.
“Being medical director required an entirely different [mindset] where I wasn’t an expert, with lots of meetings, collaboration, and long-term projects,” he explains. “I learned a lot from those I worked with. Going to conferences, talking with others … most physicians are lifelong learners, and I enjoyed the learning.”
As a former college tennis player, he also has a bit of a competitive side and professes to loving a win. He put that attribute to use as well. “I’ve done everything I can to help Hancock Health physicians attain quality,” he says. “I consider Hancock a leader in quality.”
Now that Flink will have more time on his hands to focus on his family and his own hobbies, he plans to spend a lot more time with his eight grandchildren, whom he adores. He’s also looking forward to traveling with his wife and playing more pickleball. And he will continue to follow his passion for mission work.
All of us at Hancock Health sincerely thank Dr. Stephen Flink for his dedication over the years. We congratulate him on both his professional and personal accomplishments and are certain that he will continue to make a difference in the lives of those near and far.