Anything when you can make somebody feel better, help them along, there’s no better feeling in the world than that.
I'm a neurosurgeon. I’m interested in patients with brain tumors and mostly the surgical management of patients with brain tumors. I spend part of my time doing research, I spend part of my time seeing patients in clinic and deciding whether they need surgery, or seeing them after they’ve had surgery in follow-up. Then I spend a couple of days a week in the operating room performing surgical procedures on patients with brain tumors.
How has neurosurgery changed since your training days?
Now, we don’t do any cases without using surgical navigation. We have a system where we can do an MRI before the operation, put it into the computer, and then it’s like a GPS system to help us navigate around the brain. We also have our intraoperative MRI, which is my favorite thing, where we can do an MRI during the operation and we can check our work and make sure we’ve taken out enough of whatever we’re trying to do.
What led you to become a neurosurgeon?
My grandmother had had a stroke, and I met a neurosurgeon and I thought it was pretty cool. I earned an eagle scout and they said "you can go to dinner with any profession you want," so I said "How ‘bout a brain surgeon?" So I went with a brain surgeon. He was a great guy, still a friend to this day. He was a really cool guy, I really looked up to him, I thought that was a neat profession, I went to the hospital with him, and all those things just sort of solidified that in my mind.
You’ve got the day off—what do you do?
I like to do things with my family. We like to go to southern Utah and do rappelling trips and canyoneering. We like to go to the Shakespearean festival, and just a lot of camping and hiking and things with the family. My wife and I do triathlons, although she’s a lot faster than I am, I’m pretty slow.
What I really like to do is build hot rods and I like to weld and build fun cars. You can make mistakes and you don’t hurt anybody and it gives you a chance to think and kind of work things out and be creative.
What would you be if you weren’t a neurosurgeon?
I really love neurosurgery so it’s hard to picture. But maybe I’d want to have a race team and build really fast cars and go around the country racing. There’s a 1980s movie, Buckaroo Bonsai, and the guy is a neurosurgeon and a particle physicist and a rock star. I guess I’d want to be his job, maybe that’s what I would want to be.