Silver Lining

Craig OuthierMarch 19, 2020
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The 2020 Top Doctors issue is a meaningful one for us at PHOENIX magazine – it marks the silver anniversary of our most-read annual cover story, the 25th year we’ve heaped the Valley’s most trusted and talented healers into a handy reference guide.

So, by all means, feel free to buy us something nice to celebrate the milestone. We wear a size 6.

The success of Top Docs also comes with a downside, you might be surprised to learn. Namely, it’s inspired a cult of rumors and misinformation that we have to push back against on a yearly basis. My editing forebearers and I have heard it all, starting with the cruel fiction that spots on the Top Docs list are “for sale.” Absolute hogwash, of course, and I have the nagging personal debt to prove it – not to mention a fat list of perennial listees who’ve never returned our sales calls.

We’ve also heard the peer-selected Top Docs list dismissed as a “popularity contest.” That one is a bit harder to disprove, but I will say this: We’ve profiled some pretty surly docs over the years. I mean, so truly unlikable, I can’t imagine anyone voting for them other than out of genuine professional respect.

Chatting with OB-GYN Dr. Tara Brodkin; Photo by Steve Craft
Chatting with OB-GYN Dr. Tara Brodkin; Photo by Steve Craft

“But there is one common Top Docs criticism that always stuck in my craw – the complaint that the list is unfairly weighted toward doctors in the main medical corridors of Central Phoenix and Scottsdale.”

But there is one common Top Docs criticism that always stuck in my craw – the complaint that the list is unfairly weighted toward doctors in the main medical corridors of Central Phoenix and Scottsdale, and neglects independent physicians practicing in the East and West Valley. Since doctors are social animals like the rest of us, and can only reasonably vote for colleagues they know or know about, it follows that the most densely populated areas would be proportionally represented. But, in fact, we found they were over-represented. In the biggest specialties, East and West Valley docs were being pushed out completely.

Our 2020 Top Docs list marks the first year we’ve proactively addressed this problem, by tallying regional votes independently for the five biggest primary specialties – family medicine, internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, pediatrics and OB-GYN – so readers on the periphery of the Valley also have a selection of nearby docs from which to choose. That’s important, right? While none of us would bat an eyelash at driving across the Valley for a one-time cosmetic procedure or life-saving oncological treatment, primary care doctors are a different story. You want them close.

In our pursuit of health care resource perfection, we’ve also added a pair of new specialties to the list – critical care medicine and venous disease – along with a sweeping inventory of medical journalism and profiles, all designed to sustain Top Docs as your main health resource for the next 25 years.

That will be our golden anniversary, obviously. Better start saving up.

For more than 50 years, PHOENIX magazine's experienced writers, editors, and designers have captured all sides of the Valley with award-winning and insightful writing, and groundbreaking report and design. Our expository features, narratives, profiles, and investigative features keep our 385,000 readers in touch with the Valley's latest trends, events, personalities and places.