Ever since I began my private practice in neurosurgery, I have always adopted a very conservative approach to recommending surgery to a patient. Just because an MRI or CT scan is abnormal does not mean you need surgery. There are certain conditions; however, that can be critical even though you may not have much in the way of symptoms. In all cases I firmly believe in being truly honest with patients and I will make recommendations that I would make to a family member.
I am also a believer in fully explaining your condition to you and I will personally review any diagnostic studies (MRIs etc.) with you. In this way I am able to educate you as to the nature of the problem at hand, and the ways it can be treated. If surgery is an option, I will explain how it can benefit you but will also explain the possible complications and the long term consequences of having surgery. Yes, I am a neurosurgeon and I enjoy performing surgery, but my first goal is to help you and make you well if I can. I want you to be happy that you chose surgery, if indeed it is an option for your condition. In every case, the decision on how to proceed is yours.
In the end, you are person of value deserving of my respect and I will always be compassionate and considerate of you, your family and your needs. Unfortunately, I am not able to help everyone and even patients that I operate on, not every one of them will be better, but I do promise to do my best and treat you as I would want to be treated.
One of my earliest recollections as a child was writing the word 'Medicine'. Not that I gave it much thought at the time but the reaction of my parents ingrained that moment in mind forever. Both my mother and father were teachers but my father's subjects of interest were math and science. Because of the latter, early on, I had him order me jars of creatures preserved in formaldehyde, and so began my attempts at surgical dissection. My parents were excellent role models as teachers but because of my passionate interest in science and medicine, I became focused on 'going to medical school one day'! I attended Fairfield University in Connecticut as one of 120 premedical students to begin that program in 1974. Four years later, I survived the rigors Anatomy and Organic Chemistry and graduated 'Cum Laude' as one of 40 students to complete the program. I then attended Georgetown University Medical School in Washington D.C.. Four years later, once again I graduated 'Cum Laude' with awards in Surgery, for "Highest Academic Performance" as well as the Upjohn Achievement Award for "Outstanding Research", having my research paper published in the peer review journal 'Surgery, Gynecology, and Obstetrics' as a senior medical student. I was also awarded membership into the prestigious honor medical society, 'Alpha Omega Alpha'! In my first year of medical school, we were required to take Neuroanatomy. I found this fascinating. While many of my fellow students had difficulty maintaining a passing grade, I 'Aced' every quiz, lab, test and final exam. As a third year student I rotated on the Neurosurgery Service at Georgetown University. As soon as began working with those residents at 5am on that first day, I knew which field of medicine I would study for the rest of my life! I then attended Emory University in Atlanta for my internship in General Surgery and then my residency in Neurosurgery, which I successfully completed in 1988. After several years in the practice of Neurosurgery, I received my Board Certification from the American Board of Neurological Surgeons. After leaving Emory University, I entered the US Navy as a Lieutenant Commander, stationed at the Naval Hospital in Oakland, California. Because of a shortage of neurosurgeons in the Army at that time, I volunteered to work as a staff neurosurgeon at the Letterman Army Medical Center in the Presidio of San Francisco. While on active duty there I was awarded the 'Meritorious Service Medal' for outstanding "initiative and personal dedication". In 1990, I volunteered to serve aboard the USNS Mercy hospital ship which was deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. While there, I had the opportunity to personally meet General Norman Schwartzkopf , the Commander of Coalition Forces. Upon returning to California, I completed my tour of duty as a staff neurosurgeon, being honorably discharged in 1992. I then moved to Palm Harbor, Florida where I began my private practice in Neurosurgery where I continue to practice actively to this day. I have witnessed a great amount of change in health care since then and have moved on from my own private practice at Mease Hospital in 1992 to a member of the more than 500 member BayCare Medical Group and an active neurosurgeon at the 675 bed Morton Plant Hospital. Currently, my practice is centered about the care of patients with cervical and lumbar spinal disorders. I am also active as a physician leader within BayCare, serving as Medical Director for Neurosurgery at Morton Plant Hospital and Assistant Medical Director for Specialists in the BayCare Medical Group.