Why did you become a physician?
I learned to fly when I was 16. I flew off a trampoline and into a brick wall causing a catastrophic injury to my spine. Over the next 18 months I was guided through therapy, overcoming both pain and depression. The doctors who steered my care not only inspired me to go into medicine, I eventually came back and took over their practice. Those physicians were my parents.
They instilled in me their commitment to caring for others. I live vicariously through my patients, learning their most intimate fears and aspirations, and sharing the joys and sorrows of their lives. They inspire me through their tragedies and miracles. People surmount amazing obstacles. What privilege could ever rival this? I became a physician to feel connected with people and help them overcome the same way I was helped in my life.
Tell us about your educational and professional background.
Witnessing the birth of the opioid epidemic at Ground Zero, I knew I would eventually come back to Kentucky to make a difference, but before I did I want to learn from the best. My medical school and anesthesia residency were completed at Johns Hopkins, and my fellowship pain at MD Anderson. When I then returned home, my first objective was to influence a culture change in managing pain. Throughout my training, I realized how healthcare has slowly developed tunnel vision around pain, numbing the symptoms but ignoring the problems until surgery is unavoidable. So, I shifted my focus from palliative management of pain to regenerative medicine, working toward greater awareness around pain, opioids, and the healthy options that can avoid both.
What are your interests outside of medicine?
Like most people, I am vulnerable to losing mindfulness in my daily life. Photography realigns my consciousness for living in the moment. As a physician, I gain trust through good intentions, and this unique privilege allows me to grow through other people’s experiences. Photography is the artistic manifestation of the same guiding principle, allowing me to embrace the subjects’ feelings and vision. Practicing photography helps me to observe others and to anticipate their state of mind. It has made me a better listener and deepened my ability to connect with the lives I wish to help.
Why did you join the Lexington Medical Society?
I joined the Lexington medical Society for community. Our healthcare delivery model is sick and physicians are frontline to the epidemic. Even if the solutions were self-evident, influencing change individually is impossible, let alone disillusioning. Through a community of like-minded physicians, I get support, collaboration, and a unified voice much louder than mine alone.