I became an orthopaedic surgeon because...
I knew as long as I can remember that I was going to be an orthopaedic surgeon. I broke my wrist as a third grade student and was treated by the orthopaedic surgeon that started the practice that I am now the senior partner in. I think this had a role in cementing my desire to become an orthopaedic surgeon, but I knew even before then that I was going to be an orthopaedic surgeon. When I started in medical school, my professors assured me that once exposed to other fields of medicine, I would likely change my mind, but they did not know how long this had been my plan.
I knew all along that is what I would eventually do, and I have never regretted it for one minute since.
What is the most rewarding part of being an orthopaedic surgeon?
Having a day in which you go from room to room and each and every patient wants to thank you from the bottom of their heart because they can now walk and function without pain because you gave them a new life with their new hip or knee. These days are fortunately quite often.
When you go home that night, you have a feeling that you have truly changed the world. You have to actually stop and ask yourself how it is that you get this kind of reward for just ‘doing your job’. There is nothing in the world that can give you that sense of job satisfaction.
I can think of no other occupation where you can get this feeling of joy at what you are able to accomplish.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I have always loved aviation. In college I started WillsWing Hang gliders after helping to develop hang gliding in my attempt to be able to fly without much money. The company has grown to be one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world today in number of aircraft sold. I won the first US National Championships in hang gliding and placed second to my brother the second year. I won the third year as well. Because of my early work in hang gliding, I was inducted into the NASA hall of fame, since hang gliding was an offshoot of NASA technology. In addition, my glider that I won the first championships in now hangs over the baggage terminal at John Wayne, Orange County Airport along with 3 other WillsWing hang gliders. It is so much fun to go through TSA screening with my glider sitting over my head on the way to my orthopaedic meetings. I have built in my garage and fly 3 regular airplanes. I have flown them all over the United States.
In what volunteer activities or efforts do you engage that mean the most to you and those you serve?
I have been the team doctor for two high school football and waterpolo teams for more than 25 years. One of the schools is the same one that my wife and I attended when we met, and the one where I played waterpolo and our children then attended. It has always been fun to be able to give back to a school that gave us so much.