How did you become interested in medicine?
I was exposed to orthopedics quite a bit as a kid, but unfortunately as a patient. I believe at last count I had 12 or so fractures, most the result of some sort of sports mishap. Additionally, my mother was a nurse and, I guess, imparted some of her interest in the healing arts to me.
When did you decide to specialize in orthopaedics? Spine/back/neck?
I initially trained as a family physician and then worked for a bit as an emergency room doctor. During my time working in the ER I realized how much I enjoyed working with my hands; suturing, placing chest tubes, splinting fractures, etc. So, I decided to go back into training in a surgical field. I then closely observed which surgeons were enjoying themselves the most. I decided to enter spine surgery during my orthopedic residency as a result of training with several top notch spine surgeons. I enjoyed the intensity and intricate nature of the work in the OR, and the major impact that results could have on a patient’s life. At that time reconstructive spine surgery was in its infancy and I found this to be quite exciting and challenging. Additionally, I felt that my training as a family physician was most beneficially applied to the sub-specialty of spine surgery because of the extensive pre-operative evaluation and assessments of spine patients and the care necessary during recovery after large spine cases.
What are common conditions you treat? Is there anything patients can do to avoid developing their conditions?
I most commonly treat injuries and degenerative disease of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. This includes herniated discs, spinal stenosis, spinal cord compression with myelopathy, spondylolisthesis, degenerative discs and spine fractures. The best thing that patients can do to prevent these conditions is to stay fit, and be careful the way they use their backs. Most of the spine fractures that I take care of are via the trauma center at Lehigh Valley Hospital. To avoid these trauma conditions people should avoid drinking and driving and texting and driving, use seatbelts, and don’t drive too fast on a motorcycle, ski too fast if unskilled, or fall out of a tree stand.
What do you like best about working with your patients?
I most enjoy helping patients return to their regular active lives after a period of disability and pain from a spinal condition.
What do you like best about working for OAA?
The staff, the doctors, and the tradition. OAA has a tradition of premier care as established by one of the greatest orthopedist I have known, Dr Peter Keblish.
Where are you from, originally, and how did you come to live in the Lehigh Valley?
I am originally from South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. After my spine fellowship in Baltimore, I was looking for a progressive large high quality hospital and a group practice with orthopedic surgeons that enjoyed their work. I found this at Lehigh Valley Hospital and with OAA Orthopaedic Specialists.
How do you apply your experience as an orthopaedic surgeon and a physician to the rest of your life?
I believe that physicians are granted the privilege of participating in the lives of their patients during critical times. And, as such, gain valuable insight into many aspects of humanity. The overwhelmingly common trait that I have witnessed has been the strength and goodness of most people. This experience has helped me to try and proceed with similar character.
Of what professional achievements are you especially proud?
I am most proud of the care which I have provided for my patients in the Lehigh Valley for the past 18 years as a spine surgeon.