I became an orthopaedic surgeon because...
My father was a general surgeon, and I admired how he could save lives. I became exposed to orthopaedic surgery as a patient when I dislocated my left knee at age 16 playing high school football. I enjoyed science and math in high school, and found the marriage of medicine in engineering through a degree in Biomedical Engineering with a mechanical emphasis from the University of Southern California to be a perfect background for a career in orthopaedic surgery. I wrote my first paper on total hip replacement during my freshman year at USC, and scrubbed on my first total hip during the summer between my second and third years as an undergrad, while carrying out a summer engineering project at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital Pathokinesiology Lab. While attending medical school at the University of Nevada, a flexible curriculum allowed me to carry out research projects with Dr. Jaqueline Perry at Rancho again, and with Ian Clarke, PhD, at the Orthopaedic Hospital Biomechanics Lab. I was able to meet and present my research with a 10 channel hip joint wear simulator to Dr. Augusto Sarmiento. I also was able to come back and do clinical rotations as a junior in medical school at Orthopaedic Hospital. I can vividly remember my first day on the rotation, I was able to actively assist in an 8 hour resection of a tumor around the knee with orthopaedic surgeons James V. Luck, Jr. and Tillman Moore. I was also fortunate enough to travel the country and do elective rotations at UCSD, Evanston Hospital/Northwestern, Parkland in Dallas, and the Hospital for Special Surgery. All of these experiences convinced me that the only thing for me was to be an orthopaedic surgeon. My engineering background has been valuable to help me reconstruct my patients, as well as help me evaluate and understand new technology and materials as they get introduced in our field. Although I love the technical side, the human interaction and being able to make a big difference in the functional abilities of my patients has been the main reason I became an orthopaedic surgeon. I am very grateful to all the professors and orthopaedic surgeons who inspired and encouraged me along the way.
What is the most rewarding part of being an orthopaedic surgeon?
The most rewarding part of being an orthopaedic surgeon is restoring the form and function of my patients’ bones and joints. I particularly enjoy the personal interaction with my patients and their families. I especially enjoy when patients bring their children or grandchildren into the office, and talking to them. I really enjoy holding the little babies, sometimes I even get to feed them a bottle. I take care of severe trauma patients. It is very rewarding to put together a complex fracture or multiple injuries, get them to heal, and see patients get their lives back. I also perform total joint replacements of the shoulder, hip, and knee. These are some of my happiest patients. The amount of pain relief, and return to activities never ceases to amaze me.
I have also focused a significant part of my practice on the treatment of sports injuries, and have become sub-specialty certified in sports medicine. I was a team physician for a local high school and donated many Friday nights on the sidelines, helping to keep athletes well and safe. I particularly enjoy arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, and seeing my patients get their function back and relieve their pain.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family. My oldest daughter Laura has been my golfing buddy since she was 5 years old. My wife Sherri is picking up the game as well as my younger daughter Anna. I try to make time to stay in shape, and keep my weight down. It is hard to offer advice to patients if you are overweight yourself, so I try to make it to the gym three times a week. I particularly enjoy traveling with my family, and to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and Anna’s graduation from UNLV and getting into USC Occupational Therapy Master’s Program, I took the whole family to Florence and Rome (see picture of Sherri and I in Florence above). I think it is important for families to take special trips, create life-long special memories, which help to keep you close.
In what volunteer activities or efforts do you engage that mean the most to you and those you serve?
I have volunteered to be the team physician for two high schools, covering footballs games and organizing physical nights. I have served on many committees in the hospitals I go to. When the Nevada Orthopaedic Society (NVOS) became defunct, I recruited members to become founding officers for an incorporated 501 C6 organization, and obtained tax exempt status for our group. I recruited an executive director, and hired a well known contract lobbyist to help guide us with our newly formed state political action committee. After being president of the NVOS, I was elected to represent Nevada on the AAOS Board of Councilors(BOC). I was honored to be elected as an officer of the BOC and serve on the AAOS Board of Directors for the past three years. I organized many symposiums on topics of vital concern to orthopaedic surgeons, and was instrumental in encouraging the House Judiciary committee to hold hearings on the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission’s selective prosecution of physicians. This was done with great assistance from many great volunteers in the AAOS, and shows the significant impact the AAOS can have when we use our resources synergistically. I have worked with the AAOS PAC to put on many fundraisers, and have been able to use the resources of our AAOS PAC to help develop relationships with our U.S. Senators and Congressman. This has helped me to advocate for our patients access to quality care. I also volunteer with other state organizations. I am a member of the board of trustees of the Clark County Medical Society and serve as chair of our Government Affairs Committee, and participate with the Nevada State Medical Society.