Thursday, August 17, 2017  

Operating at Full Capacity: A Tapphannock Surgeon Reflects on Balancing Work and Life


Even if you’ve never been inside an operating room you have a pretty good idea what to expect. We’re talking about a brightly lit room full of high tech medical equipment. There’s a well- trained staff standing by with very clear responsibilities once the procedure starts. And if you’ve only seen an OR on TV get ready for the cool temperature, which is part of infection control.

This is where surgeons go to work every day, the place where we have the rare opportunity to repair and often heal the human body. This capability is why medical students become surgeons and it’s what helped guide me into the field. Surgery is gratifying on many levels but it can also be intense.

And it doesn’t begin or end in the OR. Add in pre-op and post-op work with patients and families, consulting with other physicians, covering the Emergency Department, preparing case histories, referring patients to other specialists and staying current on surgical techniques, and there’s a lot of time required.

For surgeons and everyone who works long hours what usually gets sacrificed is personal time. What I’ve learned over the years is that when I bring a better sense of balance to work and life it’s good for me and my family, but it also benefits my patients.

The Work
My practice partner, Dr. Michael Francis, and I are both board certified general surgeons doing a wide range of procedures, everything from skin lesions to more complex cancer surgery. Dr. Francis is also fellowship-trained in colon and rectal surgery, so that brings an additional specialized resource to the community. Both of us have extensive training and interest in laparoscopic surgery which is performed through very small incisions and offers patients considerable benefits including faster recovery and fewer complications.

We’re also treating gastrointestinal reflux disorder (GERD) with an innovative technique that rebuilds the body’s natural anti-reflux barrier without any incision. These minimally invasive procedures are an important part of the future of surgery and Dr. Francis and I are very pleased that Riverside has invested in the specialized training and equipment needed to offer them.

The Life

I do a lot of sailing with my two sons, ages 10 and 14, and they’re turning into pretty good sailors. There’s a lot to see in the state and region and I’ve enjoyed visiting some of the newer wineries as well as other travel.  I also race cars at VIR in Danville and Summit Point in West Virginia.  I do all my own maintenance and repairs on the boat and cars.  It seems that quite a few surgeons like working with their hands. Dr. Francis builds furniture among other wood work, including some amazing Adirondack chairs.

The Balance
For me, the advantage of living here is that I’m close to the hospital and close to the things I enjoy doing. It’s a lot easier to balance work and life when you don’t have to spend so much time moving from one to the other. It also helps that both my profession and my life are carried out in a place, and around people, that have come to mean a great deal to me.

When I first came here I didn’t have much experience in smaller towns and true community hospitals. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  That was over nine years ago, and now I can’t imagine being anywhere else.