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Returning to a More Peaceful Way of Living

Left to right: Nathan Nicholson and Kyle Nicholson

Two of Ottumwa’s medical professionals, and brothers, Kyle and Nathan Nicholson are natives that moved away from the area but ultimately chose to come back home and plant roots. 

Nathan, an orthopaedic surgeon at Ottumwa Regional Health Center, and Kyle, a dentist at River Hills Community Health Center, both left Ottumwa after high school to pursue their degrees. After graduating with those degrees, they followed similar trajectories and decided to move back to their hometown. 

“I moved away to Iowa City for 13 years for my studies,” says Nathan. “My wife and I are both from Iowa so we knew we wanted to stay in Iowa. We were drawn to the slower pace of living in southeast Iowa and wanted to be close to our families to raise our children.”

Kyle’s decision to return to Ottumwa came after a five-week dental school rotation at River Hills Community Health Center. 

“During that time, I really enjoyed the people that I worked with and the work environment I was introduced to, and I decided to become part of the team,” Kyle explains. “My coworkers are incredible to work with.”

“Ottumwa and the surrounding area are more peaceful, quiet, and less congested than other places I’ve lived.”

Both Nathan’s and Kyle’s careers benefit the community, providing residents with more local health care options.

“What I like most about working here is the patients,” Nathan says. “Patients are very appreciative of the excellent care they receive in their local community.”

The Nicholson brothers with their significant others, sister, and brother-in-law
Left to right: Nathan and his wife, Amy Nicholson; Derek and Jennifer Wilkerson;
and Kyle Nicholson with his girlfriend, Lindsay Ferguson

“To be able to provide people with access to care that, oftentimes, they may have to travel one and a half to two hours to receive is rewarding,” Kyle adds. 

One of the reasons they both cited for returning to Ottumwa was to get away from the traffic and noise that comes with living in larger cities. 

“In Ottumwa, I’m able to get anywhere in town in about 10 minutes,” Kyle says. “Ottumwa and the surrounding area are more peaceful, quiet, and less congested than other places I’ve lived.”

Having a young family, Nathan already sees the benefits of living that more peaceful life. 

“Ottumwa is a great place to raise a family,” Nathan shares. “We have been very pleased with the local school systems and the opportunities our kids have here.”

Working and residing in their hometown keeps them close to many of their family members and all of the nostalgic amenities they grew up with as kids, like nearby Lake Rathbun. But even though they grew up in the area, they still find new things to do and new places to explore.

“My family and I enjoy spending the majority of our time outdoors,” Nathan says. “We like to find new local parks and trails to hike and bike in the area.”

Both brothers take advantage of all of the outdoor opportunities the region has to offer as well as its food scene, nightlife, and sporting events.

“It is truly big enough that you have everything you need but not overwhelming like some bigger cities can feel,” Nathan says.

In Ottumwa, they’ve found an ideal balance between city life and the calmer, peaceful lifestyle they grew up with. A lifestyle they now have the comfort of returning to while providing needed services for their community.

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