What is your position and role at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare? I am a pediatric orthopedist. My specialty in medicine is focused on fixing bones and my particular focus is on the bones of children. On some days, I run clinics in St. Paul or in satellites during which I visit with families of children who have issues with their bones. Some of those children will require surgery for their bones and on other days, my job as a surgeon is to fix them. I feel lucky to be in the position to help families understand what is wrong with the bone and what I can do to help.
Why did you choose to go into health care? Prior to becoming a doctor, I spent many years in the United States Air Force as a combat pilot (pictured). During those years, I was proud of my skills and of my service. At the end of Desert Storm, I reflected on my time in the military and concluded that the high points were those occasions when I made a direct contribution to saving lives. After I left the military, it made some sense to investigate my aptitude for medicine—a field I had never previously considered. This was no small undertaking because I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science. In medical school, my passion for surgery became evident immediately and the choice of Orthopedics was easy when I thought of it as a combination of architectural planning and carpentry.
Why did you choose to come to Gillette? I came to Gillette from a children’s hospital on the east coast. I was presented with the opportunity to be part of Gillette's team and join their proud tradition of working in the oldest freestanding special needs hospital in the country. The patient population at Gillette is among the most complex known to medicine. At the same time, the esteemed collection of surgeons preceding me who have developed the techniques and protocols to treat these children is humbling. To be invited to practice with this group of experts and to care for these children is an honor.
What has been one of your most rewarding moments at Gillette? All of my moments at Gillette have been memorable. I have the honor of working with the most dedicated, gracious, committed caregivers anywhere on earth. The loving, welcoming environment at Gillette makes it a pleasure to come to work every day. With patients, any child that I get to help is a blessing. I would say that the most rewarding moments are when I bond with patients who have a chronic condition and their families. Some surgeries seem very overwhelming to kids and their families. When I can make a connection with a family and put them at ease, not only is it very rewarding, but I have a friend for life.
What clinical development is on the horizon that you’re most excited about? One of my great passions is limb-length inequality. That’s when one leg isn’t as long as the other. If the inequality is great enough, you can develop back pain or hip pain and disability as an adult. There are many techniques of equalizing lengths at skeletal maturity. To me, the most fascinating technique is an implantable, telescoping nail that fits INSIDE the bone and is gradually lengthened by a magnet applied to your leg daily. You literally make your own leg longer!
What is one fun fact about you? Aside from my years flying planes in the military, I have been a competitive dragon boat racer as well as an expert marksman.