How did you become interested in medicine?
I have always been interested medicine. Many members of my family are physicians. I had a great uncle who was one of the earliest neurosurgeons in Canada. I have 2 uncles who are surgeons: a neurosurgeon and a cardiothoracic surgeon. My father is also an orthopaedic surgeon. They all have taken the time to share their interest and knowledge of medicine with me. During my undergraduate studies, I worked in a laboratory. I found out that working for hours on end at the laboratory bench was not for me. I enjoyed interacting with people. I was accepted into medical school prior to obtaining my Bachelor’s degree. I completed medical school in 1990 at the University of British Columbia. I have many great memories from my years of training there.
When did you decide to specialize in orthopaedics?
I decided to specialize in orthopaedics during my fourth year of medical school. I enjoyed being involved in the invasive procedures in all specialties. I did win the gold medal in anesthesia, but liked the satisfaction of fixing things in orthopaedics. As an orthopaedic surgeon himself, my father never pushed me into orthopaedics, but he was happy to discuss and help me understand all the concepts and intricacies of the specialty. He took the time to go into the anatomy lab with me and review the musculoskeletal system. He was very happy to see me following in his footsteps.
What are common conditions you treat? Is there anything patients can do to avoid developing their conditions?
As our body ages, we suffer many common problems. The human body is quite resilient but does have weak points. Many more people than before are playing their sports and being active in their later years. Sports Medicine focuses on keeping people as active as possible. Below are the injuries I commonly see and treat:
The knee joint is of the most problematic. When we are young, we suffer from ligament sprains and meniscus tears. Anterior cruciate ligament tears are becoming more common injuries with the higher intensity athletics that we play. I treat all knee injuries including meniscus tears, ligament tears and arthritic conditions, and perform arthroscopic surgeries as well as total knee replacements.
Shoulder injuries tend to be more common in the 50-and-older population, with the exception of athletes such as baseball players, football players, swimmers and wrestlers. The young athletes tend to suffer tendinitis and shoulder instability (ligament) problems while the over 50 group runs into rotator cuff tears and arthritis. I treat all types of shoulder problems including instability and dislocations, rotator cuff tears and arthritis. I also deal with all fractures about the shoulder including the clavicle and humerus.
Elbow problems are less frequent but include tendinitis, nerve entrapment problems and arthritis. I do treat tendon tears about the elbow as well as arthritic conditions which can be treated arthroscopically. I am also happy to treat tendinitis such as tennis elbow and cubital tunnel syndrome which involves the ulnar nerve. Preventative measures for optimal musculoskeletal health include maintenance of optimal body weight and a light consistent physical activity program. Screening for bone density once a person is over 65 years of age to detect and treat osteoporosis is also recommended. Anyone over 65 years of age with a spine fracture, hip fracture or wrist fracture should have a bone density test. Supplements such as vitamins and other products must be considered on an individual basis. These are secondary to the preceding recommendation.
What do you like best about working with your patients?
I enjoy understanding what my patients do and what their interests are. I am better able to understand their needs as it relates to their orthopaedic problems. We are able to make a better medical decision that fits their life and demands. Better decisions lead to better results. I learn from my patients, because they are experts in what they do. Every day in the office, I typically learn two or more things that I never knew before.
What do you like best about working for OAA?
OAA has always meant excellent subspecialty orthopaedic care. Prior to coming to OAA, I traveled to many practices and interviewed many well-established orthopaedic surgeons. I made a point of observing the surgeons both in the office and the operating room. The OAA physicians and staff was the only group that made me feel comfortable that my family and I could be treated by anyone without reservation. I always tell my patients this fact when I refer them to my partners.
You are originally from Canada; how did you come to live in the Lehigh Valley?
My wife and I have family in the USA and Canada. I did most of my training in Canada. I spent one year of training in Mississippi when I completed my sports medicine fellowship, and found that the United States medical system best fit my training and working style. I worked for 6 months in Canada following my fellowship. During my fellowship training in my timing candidate, I traveled extensively, interviewing and looking for an ideal practice that was focused on excellent results and quality. After 2 visits to the Lehigh Valley, my wife and I decided to move to Allentown in 1999 and start a career with OAA. We have been happy we made the decision!
If you were not an orthopaedic surgeon, what would you be doing?
I don't know what I would be doing if I wasn't in orthopaedics! I would have likely continued on in anesthesia.
How do you apply your experience as an orthopaedic surgeon and a physician to the rest of your life?
Orthopaedic surgery is a profession. It carries on with all facets of life. I don't think you can truly stop being a surgeon when you go home. My wife and kids do understand this when friends, family or neighbors come up to ask me questions. I am always happy to help them. They, in turn, help me. Medicine in general has put life in perspective for me. I see people in crisis all the time. It helps me not to get too worked up over the small stuff…
Of what achievements are you especially proud?
I am most proud of my family. I have a wonderful wife, Debbie, and my two boys, Christopher and Nicholas. I am also very proud of the OAA staff that help me and my medical partners provide excellent professional care day in and day out. I am always happy to go to work every day knowing I have a great place to care for our patients that seek our help and guidance.