I became an orthopaedic surgeon because...
Why? I always knew that I wanted to be a physician and help others; however, I had a long road prior to deciding on orthopaedic surgery / sports medicine. During medical school at the State University of New York at Buffalo, I found that I had a great interest in procedure oriented specialties like surgery and emergency medicine. In fact, I originally planned to go into cardio-thoracic surgery. I was a categorical resident in general surgery and was even writing book chapters in textbooks of cardiac surgery. However, it always seemed like the orthopaedic surgeons were having much more fun at their job! The orthopaedic surgeons were the doctors in the hospital working tirelessly all day and night, they worked as team physicians for the sports teams, and seemed to be able to focus on their job, patients, and their quality of life! I made the switch and have only looked forward! This decision to pursue sports medicine and orthopaedic surgery as a sub-specialty has resulted in great experiences. I have been fortunate to spend a year of my life working in a clinical research fellowship with Kenneth A. Krackow, MD. I completed an orthopaedic surgery residency at the University at Buffalo (Lawrence Bone, MD; Phil Stegemann, MD, Bernard Rohrbacher, MD, Bob Galpin, MD, Chris Hamill, MD, and others); and a sports medicine fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. There, I was fortunate to train with other great teachers and mentors like John Bergfeld, MD; Rick Parker, MD; Mark Schickendantz, MD; and Anthony Miniaci, MD. I became an orthopaedic surgeon due to my desire to help people improve their quality of life. What I turned into has been a meld of these physicians, my experiences, and an eternal desire to “do the right thing even when no one else is paying attention.” I am who I am because of the contributions of these great physicians; who set the bar high, mentored me, and helped to create a conscientious and caring physician.
What is the most rewarding part of being an orthopaedic surgeon?
Being an orthopaedic surgeon allows me to help others in need. Patients often seek us out in an effort to alleviate or eliminate orthopaedic causes of pain; such as fractures, sprains, tendon ruptures, arthritis, and overall musculoskeletal injury and degeneration. Having been one of these patients who has benefited from acute, urgent, musculoskeletal surgical intervention; I have first-hand knowledge of the pain that a patient can experience. It is with this insight and history of having benefited from orthopaedic care that I can truly say that the most rewarding part of being an orthopaedic surgeon is the ability to help a fellow human out of acute or chronic pain. Whether it is through repairing a rotator cuff tear, trimming or repairing a meniscus tear, reconstructing a dislocated knee, or stabilizing a shoulder against recurrent painful dislocations; this ability to make someone else’s life better is of paramount importance and the most gratifying part of my occupation when it occurs.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy spending time with my wife Pamela and our three children. My family and I enjoy traveling around the country on vacations and trips; along with staying at home for a movie night or “friendly” game of Monopoly. My children are active in extracurricular activities such as sports, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and just being kids. In Western New York, we are also blessed with fantastic opportunities to enjoy nature. Lakes Erie and Ontario and their tributaries offer a wonderful opportunity to be on and near the water. Whether tubing, fishing, or boating, our family can be found on the water. We also enjoy time together while camping in Zoar Valley. However, my true love involves fishing. In fact, many of my colleagues have heard me say that “I seem to work to support my fishing habit”. Not a day goes by without my thoughts turning to the water and fishing. However, as a good friend and world renowned charter captain Dan Keating taught me; “some spend their entire lives on the water not knowing it’s not the fish that they are after.” The solitude of the lake and the peacefulness of the water leads to a healthy respect for the Creator. This realization is what I crave. The fish are a bonus.
In what volunteer activities or efforts do you engage that mean the most to you and those you serve?
I currently serve as a Den leader for my sons Cub scout pack. Even with such a busy life, I still make time for his den and the other 14 boys in the group. We have a solid team of parents that contribute their time and efforts into seeing the boys succeed. Additionally, I volunteer my time at several of the local school districts providing medical game coverage to their school athletic programs. As a sports medicine physician, it is a great use of my time and expertise, and is a great way to give back to the community in which I grew up and trained. Finally, I serve on the board of the New York State Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons (NYSSOS). This position affords me the opportunity to participate in the NY State legislative process as it affects physicians and orthopaedic surgeons. Additionally, I was recently elected to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons – Board of Councilors. This position affords me the opportunity to interact with the other members of the BOC in an effort to increase the collaborative efforts among orthopaedic surgeons across North America.