On a bottom shelf in Dr. Sinclair McCracken’s office, there are several green files stacked together. They look like typical office supplies. But they are not. The files signify a part of McCracken’s life that influenced her to be who she is today. They are her family’s medical files kept by her family’s physician, Dr. Bob Feeley. Feeley took care of McCracken, her parents and her siblings. Out of Feeley’s 10,000 patient files, McCracken’s family was number 310. They were with him from the beginning.
Feeley was hugely inspirational in McCracken’s life. In fact, when she became a doctor, she joined his practice and eventually took over when he retired.
McCracken, 57, follows in Feeley’s footsteps when it comes to family medicine. She is like an old-fashioned practitioner, making sure her patients remain her top priority. She has seen generations of families over the years. She gets to know families and is invested in their health. It’s not unusual for McCracken, a mother of two grown children, to show up at a young patient’s baseball game. “When you take care of a whole family, it’s different,” says McCracken, who grew up on the Peninsula.
“It’s such a blessing to take care of so many people, a big privilege to look after people whose parents have known me since preschool. I love caring for all generations. It’s such a privilege to be with people through all stages of their lives.”
McCracken knew when she was young that she wanted to be a doctor. She loved watching Quincy, ME and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. “I wasn’t sure what a doctor really was, but I knew I wanted to be one,” says McCracken, who enjoys problem solving, putting all the pieces together to solve a quandary. “I knew I wanted to solve mysteries, help people and save the world,” she adds.
Despite McCracken’s interest in medicine, she did not take a straight path to medical school. After graduating from University of Lynchburg with a joint major in biology and chemistry, she was accepted at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS). However, she deferred her acceptance to join the Peace Corps.
And with the Peace Corps, McCracken went to Ecuador. Among other things, she was a fish farmer, lived in the jungle and helped vaccinate cows. The experience helped shape her world view.
When she returned, she was ready to conquer medical school. She attended EVMS and did her residency in family medicine at Riverside Regional Medical Center. From there, she began practicing in Norfolk.
When stresses in the practice surfaced, she called Dr. Feeley in Newport News, whom she calls “Dr. Bob,” for advice. “He said, ‘you need to come join me,’” she says. And in 2003, she did just that.
That move set her on a trajectory that has brought her years of joy and satisfaction.
Dr. Feeley retired years later. McCracken remains a single practitioner. She has physician assistants, but she is the only doctor. “I’m following Dr. Bob’s tradition,” she says.
Three years ago, McCracken’s practice became part of Tidewater Physicians Multispecialty Group (TPMG). The practice has between 5,000 and 7,000 patients at any given time.
“It has been wonderful,” she says of all the support TPMG provides. “It’s a natural fit.”
McCracken has not wavered from keeping her patients first and foremost. In addition to her practice, she also has Sinclair Health, which focuses on functional medicine and bioenergetic wellness. Certified in functional medicine, she is well versed in different holistic approaches to wellness. McCracken is a big proponent of the school of thought that says joy and laughter are important to a healthy life. Every morning, McCracken and her staff set an intention for themselves and the greater world.
“It’s a feeling and thought you send out to yourself, your family, your community, your patients and everyone else,” she says. “There’s a lot of science behind it.”
McCracken describes herself as down to earth, curious and joyful. She loves quilting and being outside. She tends to be a positive thinker.
When COVID hit, McCracken and her office staff immediately pivoted to a virtual platform. They didn’t miss a beat. In fact, her effective and quick transformation of the practice during the pandemic drew the attention of national media, and she was featured in a Wall Street Journal story. “It was exciting but terrifying,” McCracken says of COVID.
McCracken’s staff is close-knit and her office exudes a feeling of warmth. The walls are covered with artwork created by family and local artists. She works diligently to create an atmosphere of compassion and kindness. She does not rush through her patients’ visits. She jokingly says she runs on “McCracken time.”
“I really try to listen,” she says. “A lot of our patients say they are grateful that we listen to them and respect them. I try to give them the information they need to make the best choices for themselves.”
TO THE POINT:
Sinclair McCracken, MD
TPMG Thimble Shoals Family Medicine
Address: 704 Thimble Shoals Blvd., Ste. 600A, Newport News, VA 23606