How did you become interested in medicine?
I had no relatives who were employed in any medical field so no one enticed me to become a doctor. I became a Chemical Engineer since engineering is the field all Falatyn men traditionally studied. When I was working for DuPont and then Nestle I realized that I was missing out on what I really liked most, more direct contact with people.
When did you decide to specialize in orthopaedics? Spine/back/neck?
My father ran his own small business manufacturing parts out of metal and plastic to build different type of machines. This was the “family business” so that’s where I spent many of my nights and weekends as a child. I have worked on lathe and milling machines ever since I was about 8 years old. As an adult, I needed to work with my hands and not just with a pencil or computer. Surgery, particularly Orthopaedic Surgery, was a natural for me. I think I do have a superior three-dimensional concept of how the body works and moves and that is the function of years of mechanical and engineering training. Spine surgery was a natural extension of that.
What are common conditions you treat? Is there anything patients can do to avoid developing their conditions?
I treat all conditions of the neck and back, which include fractures, degenerative changes, and spine deformities. I did two spine fellowships after my Orthopaedic residency rather than just one fellowship since I wanted to be very well-trained in all aspect of spine care. A fellowship involves one year of dedicated training to treat the most complicated spine problems. I did two years of additional training at two of the best spine programs in the country, Thomas Jefferson University and Temple University. I consider myself especially well-equipped to treat the most complex spine deformities (such as scoliosis) as well as the more common degenerative conditions.
Some of the development of spinal degeneration is genetically pre-determined but the most important factor in a healthy spine is lifestyle. Proper diet, exercise and avoidance of smoking are three very important factors for a healthy spine. I give “mini-lectures” about this to my patients all the time. I recently saw a 76 year-old gentlemen with a very degenerated spine who was functioning almost normally since he had been active all his life. His good lifestyle habits had kept him out of the spine doctor’s office for many decades.
What do you like best about working with your patients?
The stories I hear and meeting the patient’s family. It is wholesome for a family to care for each other and support their loved-one when they see the doctor. I consider it my job to explain things clearly and in most cases just reassure them that everything is going to be alright.
What do you like best about working for OAA?
I previously worked for two other Orthopaedic practices in the Lehigh Valley before coming to OAA 5 years ago. This is by far the most professional and highest quality practice I have ever been associated with. I am happy to say that every doctor, and I mean EVERY doctor at OAA is a great doctor. I was raised in Upstate New York and all my family drives down to see the doctors here when they need Orthopaedic care.
Where are you from, originally, and how did you come to live in the Lehigh Valley?
I was born in Kingston, New York which is a two and one-half hour drive away. Two of my brothers studied Engineering at Lehigh so I had favorable impressions of the Lehigh Valley ever since I was a child.
If you were not an orthopaedic surgeon, what would you be doing?
Working in a plastics factory or oil refinery. That’s a great job too but I enjoy being a doctor.
How do you apply your experience as an orthopaedic surgeon and a physician to the rest of your life?
The healthy lifestyles that we promote to our patients are great lessons for ourselves as well.
Of what achievements are you especially proud?
I was in the top 10% of the Engineering class at Cornell University, which means I was the smartest of some of the smartest people in the world. I love the work I do and I love my family. Faith issues are very important to me and I always enjoy talking about that with anyone who will listen or share!