I became an orthopaedic surgeon because...

During my freshman year of college, on Thanksgiving break, I was playing football in my side yard with many of my neighborhood friends. As I grew up in Florida and the weather was quite warm I was not playing with shoes. My brother was the quarterback who told me to go on a pass route down and out. Unfortunately, my toe thought it was down and in and I subsequently had a severe injury to my big toe. When I looked down and saw the bone sticking through the skin, I knew I was in trouble.

Later on that morning at a local hospital, they cleaned out the wound, corrected the damage and I was back on my way to recovery. I felt so sorry that the orthopaedic surgeon and hospital personnel had spent their Thanksgiving Day working with me that I felt I should go into orthopaedics to “give something back.” I was very impressed with how professional everybody was and what a difference they were able to make in people’s lives.

During my medical school training, I realized orthopedists take care of patients of all ages. They usually have fixable problems and are able to get well.

What is the most rewarding part of being an orthopaedic surgeon?

Certainly the ability to restore people to a high level of activity has been the most rewarding part of my practice. When someone comes in after a major injury, they have much trepidation about their future, but with the advances in the profession, we are usually able to correct the damage. Seeing these injured patients overcome their problem and then run into them around the community is extremely rewarding. As I often see patients with sports injuries, I follow their performance in the local newspaper and on television with pride. I often call them or write them letters to congratulate them on their accomplishments. Whereas most of my patients are not professional athletes, the reward of taking care of the everyday person is overwhelming.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy spending time with my family. I have two children who are quite accomplished in their fields. I enjoy water sports including slalom skiing and wakeboarding and hope to be able to do that until I am an old, old man (my kids tell me I am already). Some of my time is spent covering athletic events, which gives me another opportunity to evaluate the body in motion.

In what volunteer activities or efforts do you engage that mean the most to you and those you serve?

I am active with our medical school in teaching orthopaedic principles as well as mentoring young physicians. It is great to see a young mind and have some ability to help mold it into someone who can help our profession. I give back to our local high schools, not only with coverage of athlete events, but also financially. My wife and I feel very fortunate to be where we are in life and enjoy giving back to others. This would include donations to several universities, United Way, the arts, education and other charitable organizations.

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