Writer Simon Van Booy once said, “Coincidences mean you are on the right path.”
For Dr. Jason Liang and Dr. Kati Rush, physicians at SIH Podiatry at Medical Arts in Murphysboro, the path to podiatry, to Southern Illinois and to each other is one loaded with coincidences.
The couple, who have been practicing with SIH for two years and have been married to one another for almost five, has learned to trust in the happenstances of life.
Both of their pathways began with an early interest in medicine. Liang’s stemming from his uncle — an Oklahoma internal medicine physician who came to the United States from Taiwan — and Rush, a Valparaiso, Indiana native who discovered at an early age an interest in podiatry.
“I knew from a young age that I wanted to do medicine,” she recalls. “I even shadowed some doctors in high school. My dad actually had foot trouble and the podiatrist who was treating him invited me to shadow him, too. I found I liked it.”
Liang didn’t discover his call to podiatry until he was a pre-med student at Baylor University. Again, it was his uncle providing direction.
“He told me to look into podiatry. He said, ‘I think it would be a good fit for you.’ I did an internship with one of the doctors in town and I found it was different. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I realized that I could do it.”
Liang finished his undergraduate degree about the same time that Rush, a month his elder, completed hers at Butler University in Indianapolis. Both began seeking out medical schools.
“I actually met Kati interviewing at Kent State for medical school,” Liang says. “Neither one of us went there, but when we each started at Rosalind Franklin Medical School in North Chicago, we realized that we knew each other.”
As medical students are akin to do, the pair spent lots of time together with each other and with their peers in classes, labs and as he puts it, “hanging out.”
“We were just friends in class — cordial friends,” he remembers. “It wasn’t until the summer after our second year in Chicago that we hung out. I remember I asked her if she wanted to go to an Irish Festival.”
“I told him no,” Rush interjects.
“So after the festival,” Liang continues. “I called her and said we were on the way back and asked what she thought about me grabbing an apple pie and a movie.”
This time, she said yes.
“Little did I know, she doesn’t watch movies.”
“And I don’t really like pie,” she adds.
Despite being 0-for-2 with the movie and pie, circumstances took over again. The pair ended up in the same small group intensive practicum classes. The continued to “hang out” (his words) together — without pie and movies — and soon began dating. They were married in 2014.
After medical school, Rush began residency in Evansville, Indiana right away, Liang earned a master’s degree in healthcare administration before joining her in residency there. She joined an orthopedic group in Evansville as he finished residency. Then the time came to find a permanent home. Again, circumstances came into play.
“As we were looking, someone asked us if we remembered Dr. Amanda Brazis (an SIH podiatrist who also attended Rosalind Franklin). We said we did, and then this person told us that they were hiring where she was — in Southern Illinois,” Liang explains. “By coincidence, they had two openings and clearly, we are a package deal.”
Rush explains that SIH and Southern Illinois is a great fit for them.
“We are Midwest people, so we wanted to stay in the Midwest,” she says.
The couple has taken to the region and immediately felt at home.
“We had been here just a couple of months when we wondered why there were chairs chained up along the side of the road in Murphysboro,” he remembers, adding that now they just have to go to the annual Apple Festival.
“We fell in love with that and with other events,” Rush says.
Liang is a self-proclaimed foodie and says they have enjoyed all of the locally-owned restaurants throughout the region.
“It’s been kind of a coincidence, but we go places and run into other doctors and more great people,” Rush says.
It is these same people that the couple sees in their practices. They share an office at SIH Podiatry at Medical Arts in Murphysboro, but the pair is rarely there at the same time. Liang is in surgery on Mondays, sees patients in Herrin on Tuesdays, West Frankfort two days a week and Murphysboro on Thursdays. Rush is in the Murphysboro location on the first three days of the week, in Anna on Thursdays and in the operating room on Fridays.
They say that they enjoy working together together.
“It’s not always going to be perfect synergy, but the goal is to make sure patients are cared for and happy,” Liang adds. “I guess that applies to marriage, too.”
And that is no coincidence.