Faces Of The Boom: Doctor Couple Helps Meet Health Care Demand In Williston

WILLISTON, N.D. – Patients of Dr. Shu-Ming Wang are surprised to hear the Chinese doctor has a hint of a Southern accent. Wang, who recently moved to Williston from Oklahoma City, occasionally has a few y’alls sneak into her conversations.

For Wang and her husband, Dr. Doug Clark, who both work for Mercy Medical Center, the fact that they’ve lived all over the country is helping them connect with their new patients in Williston.

Clark, a radiation oncologist, was first recruited to work for Mercy’s cancer center, which is in the process of expanding.

He moved to Williston last March and Wang joined him in late July to work as a family practice physician for the Craven-Hagan Clinic.

“It’s been a good choice,” Wang said. “We’re definitely happy and we’re definitely both feeling like it’s a good fulfillment of our careers.”

The couple is originally from Washington and spent the past four years in Oklahoma, two states that have large representation among workers living in the Williston area.

For Clark, moving to Williston has allowed him to centralize his practice. In Oklahoma, he was driving 700 miles a week to serve five clinics.

Mercy Medical Center, which has had a cancer center since 1996, broke ground last summer on a state-of-the-art facility that will allow the center to expand and offer new technologies.

Clark is working to build his practice and spread the word to other doctors in the region that they don’t need to refer cancer patients to bigger cities.

“Really, 95 percent of what they need performed we can do here,” said Clark, adding that it will be 98 percent when the new center opens next year.

Wang said the demand for health care is so great in the Williston area that patients wait three months to get a clinic appointment.

“I think Williston was a real eye-opener for both of us,” Wang said. “We have a lot of needs here in this area.” One challenge for the couple was finding affordable housing in Williston.

They haven’t been able to sell their home yet in Oklahoma City, so they initially subleased an apartment from the medical center.

Now they rent the lower level of a duplex from another doctor.

Clark and Wang said they plan to do what they can to help convince other doctors to move to Williston to help meet the demand.

“It’s difficult to recruit people to come to a small town in a cold part of the country,” Clark said. “Hopefully as more amenities develop that will aid the process.”