Insights from Our Rising Star Medical Leaders

Chris Brennan, Nicole Goddard, DO and Dean Johns; Photo by Jon Keeling


There’s no doubt the Greater Cincinnati region is blessed with a vital health care community. From Dr. Sabin’s life-saving work to eradicate polio to the strong tradition of medical schools and hospitals occupying Cincinnati’s “Pill Hill,” our region is fortunate to have not just a lot of health care practitioners, but a wide variety of specialists, too. Our firm, John D. Dovich & Associates, LLC is a proud sponsor of Venue Magazine’s Rising Star Medical Leaders. In the Fall issue of Venue, we honored twenty-five of our Rising Stars. As we interviewed the honorees for inclusion in the publication, we were simply amazed at their stories and wanted to share more from a few of the honorees. Recently Dean Johns, CPA, CFP® and Chris Brennan, CFP®, both principals with John D. Dovich & Associates, LLC, met with Brian Marek, MD, of Cincinnati Eye Institute, Nicole Goddard, DO of Beacon Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine, and Stephen Roller, DHA, Chief Clinical Officer & Clinician of Primary Health Solutions, all members of the 2017 Class of Rising Star Medical Leaders, to further explore their stories.


Dean Johns: Congratulations, once again, on your recognition as a member of the 2017 Class of Rising Star Medical Leaders. We are very proud of your work and dedication to the people of our community. To begin, tell us a little about what motivated your decision to enter into the health care field.

Brian Marek, MD: I have always had an interest in science, and I knew that I wanted a profession where I could make a positive impact in other people’s lives. Through different life experiences I was able to settle on medicine as a career. Towards the end of high school and during my summer breaks when I was in college, I started shadowing local physicians and really became interested in medicine. I didn’t personally know any physicians, so I was very happy to have these opportunities to gain exposure into the medical field.

Nicole Goddard, DO: I have always had a passion for helping people achieve their dreams, and sports medicine has provided me with a great platform to do that. My dad played for the San Diego Padres, so I have seen firsthand the hard work and sacrifice it takes to play at a high level. Helping young athletes, and patients of any age really, to be able to overcome an injury or condition so that they can reach their goals is the most rewarding part of my job. With my dad playing in the Majors and Minors, I’ve always loved working with athletes. Serving on the medical staff at Wilmington College feels like being at home. Besides the deep sports tradition in my family, working in healthcare is also prominent as my brother is currently attending medical school in West Virginia.

Stephen Roller, DHA: I always knew I wanted to help people, and the turning point for me happened in high school when I started performing community service work. Faith is a big part of my life and giving back is a big thing for me. Initially, I thought I’d be a vet. But my grandpa died suddenly during my first quarter at The Ohio State University and it made me realize how much I wanted to help people directly as opposed to working with animals. I finished that quarter at OSU and realized I wanted to go to school for nursing because I didn’t want to go to school as long as it would take to become a doctor. Looking back, I ended up doing the same amount of schooling as physicians complete. I worked in the OR at a trauma center and liked it, but while I did fun technical stuff, I didn’t have a great relationship with patients. But, now, I can have great relationships with patients. The newborns I saw when I first started working here are now in junior high school and I still see them as patients. I love that and love that I’m giving back to the community.


Chris Brennan: Did you have any mentors who influenced, or helped you, along the way?

Brian Marek, MD: My residency program director, Dr. Adam Kaufman, has been a great mentor. The dedication he shows to his patients and his residents is something to aspire to. When I thought about the options after my residency, the experience of having been exposed to the great group of physicians at the Cincinnati Eye Institute made the decision easy for me to want to work there as well.

Nicole Goddard, DO: I have been fortunate to have a lot of people build into me along the way, especially my dad. Since osteopathic medicine is a relatively new field, my main influences were actually athletic trainers and physical therapists. Witnessing firsthand the way they built relationships with patients and helped them return from their injuries was inspiring. Joining Beacon Orthopaedics has given me the opportunity to get to know some of the leading doctors in their specialties, which encourages me to constantly improve.

Stephen Roller, DHA: I come from a family of six. My parents were very instrumental in instilling compassion for others in us. They were hard-working, humble and did all they could to help people. Seeing that model really reinforced all of this for me. My teacher in Future Farmers of America poured into me the importance of applying for an award. It was time consuming, but it helped me learn leadership skills. And, of course, my current boss, Marc Bellisario, is a real mentor for me. He saw something in me and invested in me over the years and I have a lot of gratitude to him for that.


Dean Johns: Nicole, we are hearing so much about CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) injuries in the media right now. On a local level, are you treating a lot of acute sports injuries, or are you seeing more overuse injuries from specializations in school-age
sports programs?

Nicole Goddard, DO: I treat a lot of both: acute – think concussions or sprains – as well as chronic overuse injuries – think ligament or tendon fraying. To combat the dangers of specialization, we encourage kids to play multiple sports. This helps reduce overuse injuries and promotes full muscle development. Fortunately, Beacon Orthopaedics provides care for local college and high school athletic programs. We have athletic trainers and, in many cases, physicians, on the sidelines to ensure an immediate diagnosis and treatment. Our injury prevention programs are also an important part of our partnerships but are hard to quantify. We want to keep our student athletes safe, and we want them to have fun.


Chris Brennan: With your personal experience with sports, do you feel this has added to your working with patients?

Nicole Goddard, DO: Definitely I tore my ACL when I was 17 and it was devastating. I was out of sports for the entire summer recovering. My whole social network and my family’s were tied up in sports. I realized that when you’re in a team sports environment, your life is built around your role on the team. An injury often means feeling ostracized from friends and teammates. It was at this point I realized I wanted to help people through this type of injury and recovery period. I teach my patients that in addition to completing physical therapy, part of healing fully is an entire mind-body-spirit focus


Dean Johns: Brian, as an ophthalmologist, what do you see as the biggest challenge within your specialty over the next five years?

Brian Marek, MD: I believe one of the biggest continuing challenges within the profession is to continually stay up-to-date on all the new advances in technology within this field. Ophthalmology is experiencing quite a lot of progress in technology, and I expect the future to have more treatment options for different process such as retinal disorders and glaucoma. The advances we’ve encountered in treating patients with eye diseases such as cataracts, for example, have already made an impact on improving the quality of life for many patients.


Chris Brennan: Stephen, with your background of working in community health care, how do you handle working with patients when you know the tough life they have to go home to?

Stephen Roller, DHA: That’s one of the harder parts of this job. I experience this with some of our pediatric patients, or with patients who are homeless and diabetic and don’t have good food choices available to them. The work we do is much more complex than what it would be in a private practice setting. Our patients come to us when they are in a severe health crisis and we get them through that crisis, and then work with them to teach good healthcare to help sustain them moving forward.


Chris Brennan: Stephen, you’d mentioned there were seven Primary Health Solutions sites within Butler County, including three school-based health centers. Can you talk a bit about these school-based centers?

Stephen Roller, DHA: We opened two of the centers in 2016, with one in Hamilton and one in Fairfield. We partnered with OneSight, which is Luxottica’s vision care foundation, along with Interact for Health. Through collaborative partnerships with both of these organizations and school districts, we’re able to provide primary care services to students. The schools will transport the kids to the centers and their parents are invited to attend. We also provide healthcare to school staff and community members at large. There’s an outside entrance to these health centers based in the schools, so it’s all very private and safe, for everyone involved. We’re seeing a huge impact in Fairfield, Hamilton and Middletown. The kids are missing a lot less school because of this. Hamilton City Schools saw a noticeable improvement in their report cards for 2016-2017 and their superintendent attributes that to the much-needed school-based health centers we’ve created in our community.


Dean Johns: What career advice would you give a high school senior thinking about entering this career field?

Brian Marek, MD: I would say not to limit your focus too early and to have as broad of an outlook as possible because you never know where you might find your passion. I am biased towards ophthalmology, but I recommend that students keep an open mind about all specialties.

Nicole Goddard, DO: I definitely encourage those students to enter the profession. At Beacon Orthopaedics, we have shadowing programs where students can watch us in action. They will get a chance to see how hands-on osteopathic medicine is with patients. This is what I love about my specialty. I believe that if students are passionate about helping people, they need to go for it. I can’t see myself doing anything else.

Stephen Roller, DHA: In general, I would say, you need to understand what you are getting into. It’s hard work. But for every moment of hard work, you will be so rewarded. We see kids who are 14 or 15 who’ve never been to a physician, or a dentist or an eye doctor. Seeing the joy our patients feel at getting basic health services is very rewarding for all of us. We work to help break the cycle of poverty. The sacrifices to get this education are huge, but it’s worth it.


Dean Johns: Thank you for all of your service to our community. While on the surface, it’s easy for people to question why anyone would want to work in such a challenging career field, listening to your inspirations and motivations for working as medical practitioners and specialists is truly heart-warming. 


John D. Dovich & Associates, LLC is located at 625 Eden Park Drive, Suite 310, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, call 513.579.9400 or visit John D. Dovich & Associates is a Federally Registered Investment Adviser. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply a certain level of skill or training. The oral and written communications of an adviser provide you with information about which you determine to hire or retain an adviser.

For more information on Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, please visit

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