Russell Blakeley, M.D., cardiologist, is joining Kootenai Clinic from Knoxville, Tennessee. He graduated from medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and completed his internal medicine residency, a general cardiology fellowship and an interventional cardiology fellowship at Emory University in Atlanta.

Q: Tell us a bit about your family.

My wife, Julie, was a critical care nurse who graduated from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. After raising our daughters, she has spent her time involved with church and community work, particularly Court Appointed Special Advocates, which assists children in difficult family situations. We have two grown daughters and a granddaughter. Our oldest daughter and her husband and daughter live in Dallas, where she works in education policy with The New Teacher Project. Our youngest is a National Park Service backcountry ranger in Alaska.

Q: Why did you pick your specialty?

My undergraduate work was in electrical engineering, and the mechanical and electrical activity of the heart always fascinated me. I chose to practice medicine rather than engineering, because I enjoyed helping people much more than fixing circuit boards.

Q: What can patients expect when they show up for their first appointment with you?

They can expect me to work hard getting to know as much as I can about them. We will establish their medical history, and then work on understanding the problem that brings them in. This will mean answering lots of questions.

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

My wife and I enjoy the outdoors, particularly skiing, kayaking, hiking and biking. I volunteered as a ski patroller in the mountains of western North Carolina for a number of years before coming to Idaho. Photography is another personal interest.

Q: What drew you to Kootenai Health?

Julie and I are moving here from Knoxville, where I practiced medicine for many years after completing my postdoctoral training at Emory. Although we lived in the East, our upbringing in Texas marked us as Westerners at heart, and we dreamed of returning to the West someday. In Knoxville, where I practiced medicine for many years, I worked with a large group of great cardiologists, but our hospital system began to struggle financially, and recently it came under the ownership of a for-profit corporation. I could find no peace with that business model and began to look for another opportunity. Heart Clinics Northwest here at Kootenai Health has two Emorytrained cardiologists. Our paths crossed at a cardiology meeting, and here I am. These are challenging days in health care across the country, and it is exciting to see a growing, innovative health care system that is healthy itself.