MARSHALL – Even at an early age, Rick Arias seemed surrounded by the world of science and medicine. It’s really no wonder that, when the time came to select a career, he found himself already on a path toward becoming a physician.
“My maternal grandparents are both physicians and I enjoyed hanging out with them,” he said. “Both worked with the National Institutes of Health as clinicians and researchers, and I would spend my summers in their laboratory.”
Following in such family footsteps, the Milford native is joining Oaklawn as a family medicine physician.
Arias will be based at the Oaklawn Medical Group’s Michigan Avenue Primary Care, where he will work alongside Melissa Gates, D.O. and other Oaklawn providers and staff. The office is in Suite A at 1174 W. Michigan Ave., and appointments may be made by calling (269) 558-0700.
“I remember being 8 years old and looking at cell structures,” Arias recalled. “It was over my head then and probably still is over my head. But I was learning about the beauty of nature and about what we’re capable of doing with our medical technology.”
Arias attended Milford High School, where his favorite classes focused on biology, chemistry and anatomy. While volunteering at local hospitals in Boston, Massachusetts, Arias earned a bachelor of science degree in 2015 from Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation at Boston University, majoring in human physiology.
He went on to earn his degree as a doctor of medicine in 2019 from Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica, West Indies. Earlier this year, Arias completed his residency in family medicine with Winter Park, Florida-based AdventHealth Winter Park Family Medicine and Phoenix, Arizona-based Abrazo Family Medicine.
Arias now comes to Marshall after gaining volunteer and professional medical experience in a variety of settings overseas as well as in the United States, most recently in the regional of Orlando, Florida, where he worked as a sports medicine consultant and as a clinic provider.
“I’ve enjoyed working with patients from every walk of life and every aspect of human physiology,” Arias observed. As a result, instead of choosing a medical specialty, he has preferred to find ways to apply a broad array of skills and knowledge.
“Family medicine gives you the chance to build relationships and be part of a community,” he said. “There’s a greater focus on preventative care, and through that process we can make our community healthier and happier.”
Arias is certified in basic life support, pediatrics advanced life support, advanced cardiovascular life support and neonatal resuscitation. He is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Florida Academy of Family Physicians.
Arias said his relationship with partner of five years, Heidi Lentz, initially brought him back to Michigan. She is an emergency medicine resident at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, where the couple reside.
In addition to a love for cooking, Arias is an avid exerciser, working with weights, Pilates, running, hiking and cycling. Often he is accompanied by his dog Nya, an Australian shepherd.
Arias also describes himself as “an adventurous traveler” who enjoys scuba diving, skiing and singling out remote places to visit. Past travels have taken him to Europe, southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South America, frequently involving volunteer medical work. He even hopes to join an expedition on Mt. Everest in the near future.
“I like to get to know the local people and get a taste of their culture,” he said of such excursions. “It gives you perspective and understanding. Getting lost in a new city is a dream, not a nightmare.”
It’s a view of life that extends to his career as well.
“My favorite part of medicine is working with people at moments when they need help the most — connecting with people and being part of their lives,” he said. He hopes to extend that attitude to his experience with patients in the communities Oaklawn serves.
“I’ve been living in cities for a long time,” he said. “I wanted the chance to life in a smaller community and apply the skills I have to help the community and to be in a position where I can use my knowledge to help people.”