Where were you born and/or grow up?
I was born in Durham, North Carolina. At that time, my dad played professional baseball for the Durham Bulls, a Triple-A team. I grew up in Dallas after we settled here during my 3rd grade year.
Where did you go to school?
Martha Turner Reilly Elementary School, Robert T. Hill Junior High School, and Bryan Adams High School in Dallas. I went to college at Texas A&M University, where I played varsity baseball and graduated summa cum laude in 1978. I received my medical degree at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas, in 1982 and finished fourth in my class of 200. Next, I completed my orthopedic residency in 1987 at UT Southwestern Medical School Affiliated Hospitals. Finally, I finished my fellowship in sports medicine and knee surgery in Lake Tahoe, California, in 1988. I also did subspecialty training in shoulder surgery in London, Ontario, Canada in 1988.
What influenced your decision to become a doctor / surgeon?
I wanted to be a surgeon since I was 13 years old. Influential factors included my love of science, my fascination with the complexity of the human body, and a book my parents gave me as a gift for my 13th birthday, The Making of a Surgeon, by William Nolen, MD. My love of sports had a strong influence on my decision to specialize in orthopedic surgery.
What are your hobbies?
Golf, tennis, hiking, and photography. I am trying to improve my fly-fishing skills, especially since my oldest son is a fly-fishing guide! I need to get back to playing the piano. My wife bought lessons for me about 15 years ago. I was diligent with practice and playing for several years, but, I have let that fade, and I would like to get it going again.
What do most people not know about you?
I am a pretty good photographer, especially in landscape photography. I really enjoy it, but I have a lot more to learn. Also, I have hiked nearly every trail at Rocky Mountain National Park, where I have taken thousands of photos.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
As simple as it sounds, to “always do your best.” My philosophy for patient care is to always do what’s in the best interest of my patient. “A patient trusts; the surgeon must never betray that trust.” (Charles Gregory, MD, former chief of Orthopedic Surgery, UT Southwestern Medical School Affiliated Hospitals)
If you could be an actor in any movie, who would you be and why?
Clint Eastwood, because he is very cool under pressure.
What is your favorite food?
Tex-Mex. I love spicy food.
What most inspires you?
The satisfaction gained from improving my patients’ dignity and quality of life. My goal is to get the injured athlete back on the field to strive to play better than ever, to get the injured worker back on the job to provide for the family, or to get the grandmother back on her feet to enjoy time with her grandchildren. As one of my mentors, Pete Carter, MD, said, “We keep our patients truly living.”
What is a “fun fact” about you?
I have hit two holes in one. Both were actually good shots, but there was certainly luck involved.
What was your nickname as a child?
“Scooter,” growing up. I was a fast runner then!
“Doc,” during my Texas A&M University baseball stint.
“Linus,” during my residency training. It’s a long story. In short, I was an intern with my seasoned medical student team of four at Parkland Hospital, taking care of a very complicated patient with lots of lines and dressings to be changed very early in the morning before my chief resident rounded with us around 6:30 a.m. We may have worked through the night before. I can’t remember that detail, since that was routine every third night when “on call.” As my team was intently working together on the patient, my chief and I stood back and marveled. It reminded me of “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” when Charles Shulz’s characters frantically worked together to transform Charlie Brown’s choice of the sickly, little tree into a pretty Christmas tree. When I reminded my chief of the analogy, I became Linus.
Lightning, while hiking above tree line – absolutely terrifies me.