By Jeff Malet, Writer/Photographer

WesternU alumni rank among the top doctors in the region, according to a new article by Inland Empire Magazine.

Kyle Nelson Smart, DO ’01, is honored as the featured physician in the article “”Meet the I.E.’s Top Doctors,”” part of Inland Empire Magazine’s September 2009 issue. The article lists or showcases five WesternU graduates among the 37 specialties and 369 top doctors in the Inland Empire area, which covers the Pomona Valley, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Inland Empire Magazine used research from The Center for Study of Services, a nonprofit consumer organization based in Washington, D.C. The survey, conducted every two years, asked fellow doctors who they would want to care for a loved one. Physicians are surveyed from a pool of around 340,000 physicians nationally.

On the list were Dr. Smart, a Family Medicine physician with Cucamonga Valley Medical Group, Fontana and Sierra San Antonio Urgent Care, Fontana; John D. Branch, DO’ 85, Family Medicine, Riverside; and Jeffrey Dean Ries, DO ’84, Neurology, Upland.

The article also included a reader’s poll. Inland Empire Magazine invited readers to share their thoughts about their favorite doctors, which also included many alumni.

Readers wrote in and commented about Michael Benavidez DO ’92, Family Medicine, Upland, Dr. Branch and Samir Hage, DO ’97, OB-GYN, Redlands.

In the magazine’s poll results, reader Tracie Andreski says, “”Dr. Branch is the kind of old-fashioned doctor everyone used to have and wished they still did. He cares about his patients, physically and mentally.””