From left: Dr. William Witmer and pal, Dr. Scott Weslow, pose for the camera.
“I am really worried about my calendar,” Dr. William Witmer says.
“Because its days are numbered.”
Chuckles – or groans – ensue.
Witmer, a cardiologist with Aurora BayCare Cardiology, puts extra effort into everything he does, even if it’s just to make you laugh.
From a young age, the New York native adored the sciences but also was passionate about music.
At 5 years of age, Witmer was playing the violin. He would even go on to play in the New York state orchestra and the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra for the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.
His passion for science and music brought him to Ohio Wesleyan University, a small college that was good at both, Witmer says.
“That’s when I first got exposed to the Midwest – which I have a really big fondness for,” he says. “It was just a huge culture change going from New York to Ohio where people just seem to be more friendly, open, less antagonistic and less on edge. Where I grew up, the first time you meet a stranger they’re defensive. They feel like you want something from them in general … not everybody. But there’s a huge difference here and more family oriented, holistic values, that kind of thing.”
Once Witmer completed his first year at Ohio Wesleyan, his passion for the violin faded while his interest in the sciences blossomed.
“I was really interested in research and learning new things … I realized taking anatomy and physiology that I wanted to focus on the human body,” he says.
Witmer pursued his interest in medicine and research by applying to Vanderbilt University’s medical scientist program.
“I got there and kind of two things happened. The funding fell out on it and I found that I liked clinical medicine a lot more,” Witmer says. “I really enjoyed working with patients rather than being in a laboratory. And I was better at it. I wasn’t as good at figuring out new research projects in the laboratory. But I was better at interacting with people, so that’s what I did. So, I dropped the research and went full clinical and graduated from Vanderbilt in ’88.”
Witmer completed his residency at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics in Madison. There, he fell in love with Wisconsin, he says.
“I thought it was a wonderful place,” Witmer says. “Of course, Madison is very progressive but even the entire state is a wonderful family-oriented state and great place to raise a family and that’s really the main reason why I came back.”
After completing his fellowship at the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont, he practiced in a cardiology group in Bangor, Maine for eight years. He decided at that time to move his family to Green Bay.
The cardiologist has been with Aurora BayCare Medical Center since 2006. His specialty is treating patients with heart disease. He finds satisfaction in building relationships with his patients and finds it rewarding to help steer them toward improved health.
“There are many rewards, I feel very fortunate to be able to practice cardiology. I’m very privileged to do so.”
He shares a special message with his current and future patients: “Changing your lifestyle will do more to prolong your life and improve your health than any drug we can give you or any surgery you can have and that’s been shown over and over again. If you eat right, exercise and lose weight, you will reduce your risk of heart attack and death more than any procedure can.”
Outside of work, Witmer enjoys practicing yoga, meditating … and learning new jokes.