Career Path

For Portland Cardiologist, Home Is Where the Heart Is

Doctor and his physician husband find jobs at same hospital, near family and friends.

Sometimes, as Providence Cardiologist Dr. Jason Bensch drives the few blocks from his Portland, Oregon, home to the hospital where he works and stops to drop off his daughter at the on-site childcare, he feels like pinching himself.

"I just can't believe this all worked out," says the Pacific Northwest native. "That my husband and I were both hired at the same place, and we’re back in our old neighborhood, and we’re near all our friends and family, and we both love our jobs; it’s just surreal. I feel incredibly lucky."

Dr. Bensch is part of a growing trend of Americans who moved during the COVID pandemic to be closer to family. According a Pew Research Center survey of 12,600 U.S. adults, one in 10 young adults who moved in 2020 did so because of COVID, and of those, 20% said their primary reason was proximity to family.

Work-Life Balance

As a new Cardiologist starting out his career and as a new dad, Dr. Bensch says work-life balance was top of mind during his job search. So was whether his husband, Dr. Jason Heino, could find a position in the same city. In 2016, the two doctors completed residencies, with Dr. Bensch at Oregon Health & Science University and Dr. Heino at Providence. They had a tight-knit friend group in Portland, and both their families lived a short drive away in Washington state.

Their next step took them to Utah, where Dr. Bensch completed a Cardiovascular Disease fellowship at University of Utah and Dr. Heino worked as a hospitalist. As their time in Utah came to a close, Dr. Heino reached out to Provider Solutions & Development Senior Recruiter Joe Imatani to assess the job landscape at Providence health system in Portland.

"Everything happened really fast for Jason," Dr. Bensch says. "He had an offer within a couple months. And every time he talked to Joe, I'd say, 'Tell him about me! Tell him about me!' "

A few months later, Joe had lined up interviews for Dr. Bensch with Providence Heart Institute, and the couple was able to move back to their old neighborhood in summer of 2020, both in roles based out of Providence Portland Medical Center.

"Once I found out they both wanted jobs here, I got to work," Joe says. "I let the Cardio and Internal Medicine teams know it was a married couple coming back to the area. I knew that with Providence Heart Institute it would be extremely competitive, but I also knew Dr. Bensch had everything they were looking for. He had excellent training that would enable him to be autonomous with patients right away and I knew his personality and drive would be a great fit with the team. When they offered him the job, it was so rewarding. When you know you have all the pieces in place like that, it's such a good feeling."

Variety and Innovation

Dr. Bensch says he loves the variety he experiences in his job as a non-invasive Cardiologist. He spends much of his time seeing patients at the large Portland hospital, but he also travels to two smaller nearby hospitals and does some call and telehealth visits, mixed in with separate days for graphics and imaging procedures.

He says as Cardiology has become increasingly specialty driven, he enjoys being a generalist, offering much needed treatment to an aging population. With new, groundbreaking medications entering the landscape every month to control diabetes and prevent heart failure, he feels it’s a field that is advancing and innovating at a pace equaled only by Oncology.

"There's a lot of room to grow, and that's what’s really exciting," Dr. Bensch says.

A good day for him is when he can help someone feel better and even save someone’s life. He describes a recent patient who came into the hospital, a man in his 60s complaining of recent shortness of breath. An echo showed he was in heart failure and a coronary angiogram showed he had advanced coronary disease.

"He was very sick," Dr. Bensch says. "He may have died within six to 12 months if he had not come in. Post-surgery, with some good medications, lifestyle and diet modifications, he has a good prognosis."

As his patient panel grows, Dr. Bensch says he will be working on a new clinic within Providence Heart Institute that will focus on lipid-related issues, including high cholesterol levels – a key risk factor for future heart problems.

Protection From Burnout

While work invigorates him, he says it's his life outside of work that stabilizes him and helps him recharge.

"I think physicians are starting to realize that if you’re not living close to family and friends, you just aren't going to see them much," Dr. Bensch says. "It's much more of a factor than it has been in the past."

His advice to doctors starting out their careers or making a change?

"Make sure you ask, as you’re interviewing, about the things that will affect your quality of life, because these things really do affect your happiness," he says. "It's your protection from burnout; it’s how you safeguard yourself. Ask the people interviewing you when they went on their last vacation and where they went. If they say they can’t remember, that’s a red flag."

Dr. Bensch and Dr. Heino moved into their new house in early 2021, and Dr. Bensch says he feels like they can finally relax and settle into their new life.

"We're getting to know our neighbors," Dr. Bensch says. "They brought us cookies to welcome us to the neighborhood. On sunny days, I can ride my bike to work. It feels pretty perfect."

Joe, his PS&D recruiter, couldn’t agree more.

"Being able to help a couple get jobs in the same place at the same time, it doesn’t happen every day. The stars really do have to align," Joe says. "I'm glad I was able to help them find these jobs. I’m super happy for both of them."

In the image above, Dr. Jason Bensch, right, and his husband Dr. Jason Heino share a moment with their daughter.