How did you become interested in medicine?
My biggest influences were my great-uncle, Peter Savage, and my father, Thomas Brislin. My great-uncle was an old-time general practitioner. He would do house calls, deliver babies, and even set bones. He loved three things: family, medicine, and fishing. My father had an old-fashioned "black bag" and would have me or my brother bring it to him when he would get called into the hospital for a patient. I would make "rounds" with my father when I was 5 or 6 years old. I just felt a deep calling to medicine. I never thought of becoming anything other than a physician.
When did you decide to specialize in orthopaedics?
During the summer before my senior year in college, I participated in a program for pre-medical students run by a cardio-thoracic surgeon in Scranton. I became very interested in surgery after spending weeks with general surgeons, plastic surgeons, cardiothoracic surgeons, and, of course, orthopaedic surgeons. I entered medical school thinking about neonatology, the care of pre-term infants. But I was more drawn to surgery as medical school progressed. I enjoyed orthopaedics most of all, because I really felt that this specialty could allow us to help restore patients to full function.
What are common conditions you treat?
I have a particular interest in shoulder and elbow conditions as well as sports medicine injuries of the knee. I do treat common fractures and other non-sports medicine injuries. I have fellowship training in sports medicine. During my fellowship, we focused on shoulder and elbow arthroscopy, treatment of complex shoulder/elbow conditions, and shoulder replacement surgeries.
What do you like best about working with your patients?
My calling to medicine was guided by a desire to help patients. I try to always make sure my patient feels heard, and to find a way to connect with my patient. Nothing makes my day more than hearing my patient tell me that he or she is feeling better. I hope that when my patient leaves my office, I have done a good job of explaining the problem and how we are going to fix the problem together.
What do you like best about working for OAA?
I worked with OAA as an orthopaedic resident. I had been out of the Lehigh Valley since graduating high school in 1990. I could not believe what had happened to Allentown in the years I had been away. I really enjoyed working with the doctors at OAA, and when I wanted to return to the Lehigh Valley, OAA was where I wanted to practice. OAA is a growing practice and we strive to be the best.
How did you come to live and work in the Lehigh Valley?
I grew up in Allentown. We came to Allentown for my father's residency at what was then Allentown General Hospital (Now Lehigh Valley Hospital, 17th & Chew). He stayed after residency and has been in practice in the Lehigh Valley since 1977. I attended St. Thomas More Elementary School and then Emmaus High School. I was the 100th graduating class of Emmaus High School. I left for college, medical school, residency, and then fellowship. I married a "jersey girl" and we decided to settle back in the Lehigh Valley. I am very happy to be back in my hometown.
If you were not an orthopaedic surgeon, what would you be doing?
I honestly don't know. Maybe I'd be a racecar driver? My wife thinks I drive too fast.
How do you apply your experience as an orthopaedic surgeon and a physician to the rest of your life?
My daughter was born with cerebral palsy and other significant medical problems. Even as a physician, this experience was overwhelming. I learned a lot about what it means to be on the "other side" of the doctor-patient relationship from dealing with my daughter. The situation was not easy and has forever changed my life. She is my most precious little girl, and is making enormous strides every day.
Of what achievements are you especially proud?
In my life, my greatest achievement has been my family. I have a beautiful wonderful wife, and three children. Professionally, I have been a professional educator for Mitek DePuy. I instruct other surgeons in shoulder arthroscopy and rotator cuff repair. I also am an Associate Master Instructor for the Arthroscopy Association of North America.