I became an orthopaedic surgeon because...
Like most students I entered medical school with a desire to serve patients but without any clear career plans. A short elective in my third year of medical school exposed me to the profession of orthopedic surgery and from that experience I really have never looked back. My mentors on that rotation seemed to enjoy every moment of their day, whether in the office or in the OR, and they were such gentlemen, taking the time to teach and even giving each of the students the Hoppenfeld textbook on the orthopaedic physical exam. You could feel the camaraderie and had the sense you were part of a “team.” In addition, for someone who spent most of his childhood rummaging through his grandfathers tool shed, the surgeries just made sense. Needless to say I was hooked from the first moment.
What is the most rewarding part of being an orthopaedic surgeon?
Many orthopaedic patients are healthy, motivated, active people held back by the pain of a failing musculoskeletal system. The most rewarding part of being an orthopaedic surgeon is using your skills to release people from the constraints of pain, and in many ways giving them “their lives back.” The best office visits are those where patients, many months out from surgery and other treatments, spend all their time telling about all the things they “are” doing and no time telling you what they can’t do. That is when you usually invite them back but only if they are having any trouble. The most rewarding is that so few ever need to take you up on the offer. It’s bittersweet, but mostly sweet!
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to stay active. I enjoy hiking and have hiked short portions of both the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails. Those long days, up and down mountains with a large pack make you truly appreciate having structurally sound, pain free joints! I also enjoy running and run several road races each year including a few marathons. Training for these events keeps me in good physical and mental shape, allows me to see interesting parts of the country, and allows me to challenge and test my physical limits. Strenuous pursuits allow you to engage your body and mind at a much higher level and provides immediate feedback on decisions related to training, diet, and rest. I also enjoy traveling with my family, this allows us to bond while exploring interesting parts of the world.
In what volunteer activities or efforts do you engage that mean the most to you and those you serve?
I currently serve as the president of the Connecticut Orthopaedic Society and have been actively engaged on its board for the past 6 years. I also teach orthopaedic residents and medical students and I find those interactions to be among the most rewarding. A number of my former (and maybe a few of the current) residents have chosen orthopaedic foot and ankle surgery as a career, and that is always very rewarding. I also served for a short time after the Haiti earthquake in 2010. This opened my eyes, not only to the wonderful opportunities to help in these situations, but also the tremendous limitations. I continue to seek out more opportunities to take my skills to those in need outside of the United States.