Physician Spotlight : Matthew B.R. Nessetti, MD, PhD
Medical Director/CEO, AllCare Medical Center
LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Matthew Nessetti calls himself a “masterful generalist.” But that cryptic label is more than a modest way to describe his current medical practice; it also is an invitation to learn more about his unconventional medical training journey.
“I kind of backed into being a primary care physician,” said Nessetti, who earned his undergraduate degree in psychology at Arizona State University in 1987. From there, he obtained a master’s and doctorate in the same discipline at Indiana State University and the University of Nebraska, respectively.
Internships and residencies in family and clinical psychology followed, as did his private practice, Nebraska Mental Health Center in Lincoln and two other locations in the Cornhusker state. Along the way, Nessetti became board certified in medical psychology and psychopharmacology.
But that successful, multi-city practice wasn’t enough for Nessetti. “I had first decided on psychology in my first semester of undergraduate training. I felt great about my intro classes and with my outgoing nature, I felt a fit,” he explained. It was not until he was “at a more mature stage in my life that I felt a simultaneous need to know and a drive toward integration of mind and body health. Family medicine was a perfect specialty as it allowed me to integrate psychology seamlessly,” he said.
So, Nessetti enrolled at the International University of the Health Sciences and after earning his MD he completed a family medicine residency at the University of Iowa and, returning to Nebraska, another residency at Creighton University Medical Center. A fellowship in child health, as well as a surgical OB/GYN fellowship in Lincoln, followed in 2010.
“I’ve really tried to integrate all disciplines,” said Nessetti, who opened AllCare Medical Center in Lakewood Ranch earlier this summer. “I might see a patient with COPD or diabetes in the morning, then a psychiatric patient who is bipolar or schizophrenic, or a pain management patient ... and I set aside one morning a week to do psychotherapy for depression, anxiety, marital disorders,” for example, he said.
Nessetti does outpatient surgeries on Fridays, including “skin work and joint work,” he said. But his bread-and-butter on those days are no-scalpel, no-needle “Gentle Touch” vasectomies. “I’m a big proponent of people making good reproductive choices. I’ve done more than 1,500 vasectomies. In fact, before his practice opened in June (he and his family moved here in November) he traveled all over the state to perform vasectomies. “I did 50 to 100 vasectomies a week, working with Doug Stein (MD) out of Tampa,” Nessetti said. “I traveled all over the state, including Jacksonville, Orlando, Palm Beach, Ocala, Naples and Gainesville. Sometimes I’d do 30 procedures a day.”
But Nessetti, 46, was very happy to cut out the travel and put down roots in Lakewood Ranch. As the youngest of three children born in a career U.S. Marine’s family, Nessetti moved around a lot. “I think all the moving made me very outgoing and able to make friends easily,” he said, adding that “my interest in helping as both a psychologist and physician came from my regular meeting of new people and my fascination with their life experiences. To this day, I find myself fascinated with the strengths people show, particularly during difficult times,” he said.
And the value of Nessetti’s family has been tethered to his professional life since he was a student. Accepting the responsibility of a divorce and being the custodial father of three daughters while attending medical school, he met his wife Doris Ramirez Nessetti, MD, in 2006, while he was in his residency. “Had she not graciously agreed to serve as stepmom, I can’t imagine how I would have been able to complete it,” he said of the OB/GYN he calls “my best friend and my business partner.” The Nessettis have since had a fourth daughter, Isabella, who is going on 4 years old. “My greatest challenge in life has also been my greatest pride – fatherhood,” said Nessetti. “How did I do it? With a lot of help from people who love me.”
One of those loving people is Nessetti’s sister, Kelly Prather Nessetti, who was the practice administrator for him and Doris in Nebraska and now in Lakewood Ranch. “My wife and my sister probably are best friends. We hang out together on weekends with the kids,” he said.
Nessetti offered some advice for couples who work together. “Be excellent communicators. One of the most important things is knowing when to take a break. There can be stress and tension, but sometimes you need to step back. Even though I’m the psychologist, I think (Doris) has a better handle on knowing when to talk and when to take a break. There are so many pluses to working with family, both my wife and my sister. The downside is sometimes you find yourself talking about work when you should not be,” he said.
Helping ease the Nessettis’ transition is the staff at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, he said. “They graciously recruited Doris and me to the area for our expertise. They have assisted us in setting up the practice and in introducing us to the community. They have been spectacular to work with,” he said.
Nessetti makes time for outside interests, including playing the guitar, doing his own landscaping and going to the movies and beach with Isabella’s older sisters: Nicole, 19, a creative artist who wants a PhD in psychology; Samantha, 17, an “excellent public speaker” who has her sights set on becoming an emergency room physician; and Danielle, 13, a competitive dancer who wants to become a gynecologist.
Another passion Nessetti indulges at every opportunity is cooking, especially recipes that were passed down by his parents, and which he perfected when he owned an Italian steakhouse in Nebraska. “Sometimes after a day of taking care of patients I would get a call that the busboy or dishwasher couldn’t make it to work. So, guess who was the busboy or dishwasher those days? I sold it after 4 years,” he laughed.
But a typical Saturday in the Nessetti home still revolves around food. “We gather about 4 o’clock, and I open a bottle of red wine. We start laying out the pots and pans. Our girls help. We create great memories with a big pan of lasagna, breads and desserts, including homemade cannoli and tiramisu. It goes on until 10 at night,” he said.
Soon, Nessetti hopes to find time to enroll in courses at Stetson University College of Law to study patient advocacy issues. “That may be the next step in my career, to work on a national level as an advocate, perhaps with the American Academy of Family Physicians. I’ll need to understand the law better to do that,” he said.
Sounds like another path for a “masterful generalist.”