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Tucson doctors get satisfaction from diverse sidelines to medical careers

Dr. Tedd Goldfinger assists aspiring medical assistants in a classroom at Kino College. Courtesy Todd Goldfinger
Blue Ice Gelato’s display case, which keeps the gelato at precisely the right temperature, is imported from Italy. Photo: www.blueicegelato.com

One of every person’s most important decisions is the choice of a future profession. Tedd Goldfinger, D.O., FACC, FESC, FCCP, and Ronald Mann, M.D., chose rewarding careers in the field of medicine with specialties in cardiology and dermatology, respectively. In addition, both have upped the ante in their busy professional lives by adding a successful side business.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Goldfinger went to medical school in Iowa and continued his training in several other states, including New Mexico and Arizona, before settling permanently in Tucson with his wife, Melissa, and joining a cardiology practice. As he says, “Before moving to Tucson in 1986, I was already quite comfortable with the Southwest lifestyle.” The family now includes two boys, one living in New York and the other a junior at Catalina Foothills High School.

By 1990, Goldfinger was ready to go out on his own and founded the first full-time cardiology practice in Northwest Tucson, Desert Cardiology.

About 20 years ago he felt the need to start a school for training medical assistants. “MA’s I hired in my practice had good personalities and empathy toward patients, but they lacked training in medical practice,” he reminisces. “I envisioned a school with a more clinically-based curriculum that stressed critical thinking and academics.”

In 2014, the vision became reality, when Kino College admitted its first class on the campus of Northwest Medical Center. It is a prime location, he says, as students get many “hands-on” experiences as well as classroom training.

Requirements for admission include a high school diploma, interviews, and assessments by the school’s admissions team to determine a student’s likelihood of success.

The nine-month program includes training in physiology, pharmacology, office procedures, coding, and much more.

Students ages 17-60 are divided into groups of 10-12 each. Goldfinger explains, “We insist on small class sizes to optimize teacher to student ratio, enhancing the experience for each individual student.”

Busy with his own cardiology practice, Goldfinger nevertheless has many roles at KC. In addition to being one of three partners, he also is the director of curriculum, a faculty recruiter,  and a part-time teacher.

KC’s program includes taking certification exams as part of the curriculum. Upon graduation, students have a diploma that reads “Professional Medical Assistant.”

While Goldfinger’s sideline is still in the world of medicine, Mann chose something much further afield — but close to his own heart — gelato. Mann and his wife, Rebecca, opened Blue Ice Gelato in 2017 at 6878 E. Sunrise Dr., #140.

Born in New Jersey, Mann went to medical school in Philadelphia.

“The variety of dermatological experiences appeals to me,” he says. “I’m a trained Mohs surgeon, so in the space of one day I can serve as a physician, surgeon, pathologist, and even plastic surgeon.”

The couple and their two daughters, now both in their 20s, moved to the Old Pueblo in 2003.

The prospect of a future empty nest got the Manns thinking about a side business that would be both fun and profitable.

As for choosing gelato as their product, Rebecca says, ”Growing up on the East Coast, we loved Italian ices. While learning techniques for making ices, we were introduced to the production of gelato and sorbet. We then decided on these tasty ice cream alternatives.”

The couple trained with an Italian chef and later brought him to Tucson to train their manager, Don Schackart. Schackart has taken over but the Manns still have “the touch” and occasionally step in to make a few trays of the confections.

The health-conscious Manns are quick to point out that gelato is lower in calories and sugar than ice cream and usually has half the fat or less.

The shop boasts over 40 flavors, all made in-house, including sugar-free and vegan options. Blue Ice is the only shop in Arizona licensed to pasteurize its own milk base.

And talk about diversification. “We have gelato cakes, pies, milkshakes, and a full line of espresso drinks,” Mann said enthusiastically. “Even a gelato panini, which is a scoop of gelato in a heat-sealed pretzel roll.” Yum!

Mann picked the name Blue Ice Gelato in reference to the clean, compact ice formed in glaciers. The visual of a glacier itself is enough to refresh bone-dry Tucson denizens anytime but especially during the dog days of summer. The gelato is the icing on what else? A gelato cake!

So, we see that a more healthful take on the old saying is true in Tucson: I scream, you scream, we all scream for gelato!

For further information on Kino College, visit www.kinocollege.com.

More information on Blue Ice Gelato can be found at www.blueicegelato.com.

Barbara Russek is a local freelance writer.