Top Doctors 2011 – Q&As
Interviews with six Top Doctors from the 2011 Top Doctors Poll
Steve Beaudette, M.D., F.A.C.C.
SNHMC/SJH/New England Heart Institute
Why medicine? Why this specialty? My interest in medicine was cultivated at an early age watching my mother care for heart patients as an intensive care nurse at Catholic Medical Center.
Most rewarding aspect of your work? Helping patients through life threatening acute cardiac events and then guiding them through lifestyle changes that leads to improved long-term health.
Rx for staying healthy? First and foremost, regular exercise — at all ages. This should be combined with a healthy diet, refraining from smoking and seeing your doctor regularly.
How do you put patients at ease? Taking the extra time to make sure they fully understand their cardiac issues and the options for testing and treatment.
What do you do to relieve stress and leave work behind? I am blessed to have a wonderful family and extended family with whom I spend my free time. I’m also a passionate fan of all our amazing New England sports teams.
What can patients bring to the patient/doctor equation? Open two-way communication is so important. Come prepared with your questions and concerns. If you think you are going to forget something, write it down.
What do people need to understand about medicine? Medical care in 2011 is a team effort. I’m privileged to work with dedicated and skilled teams of nurses, pharmacists, therapists and technicians who work together to provide the best care for our patients.
Do you have a motto or philosophy? Provide the care that you would want a family member to receive.
Douglas H. DeSantis, M.D.
Why medicine? Why this specialty? Combination of science and art in a constantly changing profession.
Most rewarding aspect of your work? Long-term relationships with patients and families.
Most difficult aspect? Paperwork.
Rx for staying healthy? Common sense eating and exercise.
What do you do to relieve stress and leave work behind? Play mandolin, exercise and yoga.
Exciting development in your field? The explosion of breakthroughs in genetics.
What do people need to understand about medicine? Understanding that not all things can be fixed and there is a price to pay for any medications or procedures.
Do you have a motto or philosophy? Nothing in moderation will harm you.
Jeffrey Harnsberger, M.D.
Why medicine? Why this specialty? I was interested in medicine as a kid; I can recall watching old medical shows on TV, being intrigued particularly with surgical procedures. Later, working as an orderly during graduate school, it became apparent to me that medicine was the field I wanted to pursue as a career. During my residency in general surgery at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, I became interested in the surgical management of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, as well as anorectal disease.
Most rewarding aspect of your work? There are many elements that are rewarding. A difficult operation that technically goes very well, seeing a patient post-operatively who is recovering and is happy or a patient who says after surgery, “Thanks, doc, for giving me my life back.” I think the greatest reward however, is simply the privilege of having patients place their faith, trust and confidence in me as a surgeon, for treatment of diseases that are life-altering or life-threatening.
How do you put patients at ease? I try to be forthright and honest, even if it is not what the patient wants to hear. I think this helps them understand the challenges related to their treatment so they can best accept and prepare for what lies ahead. I also try to emphasize the positives and the importance of focusing on factors which are under the patient’s control, thus avoiding dwelling on the “what ifs.”
Any misconceptions about your specialty? Some patients still have the misperception that the specialty of colon and rectal surgery is the equivalent of “proctology” of many years ago. Colon and rectal surgery however, encompasses far more than the surgical treatment of anorectal disease such as hemorrhoids, as exemplified by the breadth of surgeries encompassed during fellowship training in colon and rectal surgery.
Exciting development in your field? The progressive application of laparoscopic techniques, including use of the robot for performing various colorectal surgeries..
Do you have a motto or philosophy? In the words of Jim Valvano, former head basketball coach at NC State, towards the end of his courageous battle with cancer, “don’t give up … don’t ever give up.”
Robert Heaps, M.D.
New Hampshire Orthopaedic Center
Why medicine? Why this specialty? I come home most days feeling like I have made a difference in someone’s life. Every day is unique. I have had an interest in Orthopaedic Surgery since I was a teenage patient. The influence of a few mentors along the course of my education and training helped to direct that interest in Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery. I still love what I do.
Most rewarding aspect of your work? Working with a patient with a serious injury, and getting them back to work or play. Most patients are still very appreciative of our efforts.
Most difficult aspect? The fact that more and more control of medical care is being taken away from the patient and physician.
What makes a great doctor? Kindness and the ability to listen are two important factors beyond training and keeping up to date with changes in technology. I try to remind myself of this when I fell like I’m getting into a rut.
Rx for staying healthy? Managing the work schedule to make time to exercise and enjoy life. I pay close attention to the medical articles that encourage the use of dark chocolate and wine in moderation.
Any misconceptions about your specialty? The importance of hand therapy after some procedures to achieve an optimal result. Success cannot always be achieved with surgery alone.
What do you do to relieve stress and leave work behind? The usual — biking, golfing, skiing, working out. An occasional Friday lunch with my wife, Lisa.
Exciting development in your field? The treatment of Dupuytren’s Contracture with an injectable enzyme was approved within the last year. Dupuytren’s causes the fingers to contract down and is usually treated with surgery. An injection is appropriate in some of theses patients. It is less invasive and seems to have good early results.
What do people need to understand about medicine? Though we can do more for most patients than ever, medicine is still evolving.
Kari M. Rosenkranz, M.D.
Why medicine? Why this specialty? Breast surgery is a good match for my interests and my personality. The surgical side appeals to my desire to “fix” things. But unlike some other surgical specialties where the “fix” is short term, breast surgery lends itself to long-term relationships with patients and allows me be an advocate for women and women’s health care.
Most difficult aspect? We are privileged in medicine to be a part of patients’ lives during difficult, emotional and stressful times. In breast surgery, we often diffuse anxiety by educating patients about the generally excellent prognosis breast cancer carries. Rarely, however, we are the bearers of bad news. I find the delivery of bad news is, and I suspect will always be, the most difficult part of my work.
What’s the trickiest procedure to perform? A new and exciting surgical option for some women with breast cancer is the nipple sparing mastectomy. I think it is the most challenging procedure breast surgeons perform today, but the cosmetic outcome makes the effort well worthwhile.
What do you do to relieve stress and leave work behind? The woods are my place of respite. I find I need time alone, with my dogs, to snowshoe, to hike, to engage in any activity that gives me solitude and helps clear my head and restore my energy.
Exciting development in your field? One of the most exciting developments in breast cancer surgery is the trend toward less-invasive, more-personalized therapy. Recent data have shown that most women can avoid axillary dissection even in some situations where cancer is found in the lymph nodes. This less invasive approach reduces complications of surgery and minimizes long-term side effects. New techniques for partial and complete breast reconstruction have improved cosmetic outcomes and provided psychological benefits post-operatively. The field of breast surgery and the multidisciplinary management of breast cancer are changing rapidly.
Joseph Paydarfar, M.D.
Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery
Why medicine? Why this specialty? I chose a career in otolaryngology because it is a fascinating surgical specialty. The otolaryngologist cares for patients of all ages and treats an assortment of conditions that can affect our senses, our ability to communicate and our self image. I became particularly interested in treating patients with tumors of the head and neck because of the complexity of the operations, the esthetic and artistic nature of the required reconstructive surgery and the profound impact this disease and the treatments can have on a patient’s quality of life.
What makes a great doctor? My dear friend and colleague, the late Dudley Weider embodied the qualities that I feel make a great doctor: he listened to his patients, had sincere compassion, was humble but confident, was an innovator and was a lifelong learner.
What do you do to relieve stress and leave work behind? Spend time with my family, exercise, and work on my car.
Exciting development in your field? Minimally invasive surgeries including endoscopic surgery for tumors of the skull base, as well as laser microsurgery and robotic surgery for tumors of the throat.
What do people need to understand about medicine? Medicine is ever more complex with “medical miracles” happening all the time. We have incredible technologies, from fancy MRI scanners to surgical robots as well as a variety of sophisticated medicines for an assortment of ailments. However, the best medicine is that which is not found in the hospital or the doctor’s office. As individuals, we all possess the ability, to a certain degree, to shape our health – quit smoking, exercise, eat better, loose weight, reduce stress. None of these treatments is easy and none of them are sexy. However, they are simple, inexpensive and have no side effects; and in many cases will go an incredibly long way to keeping us healthy and happy.
Do you have a motto or philosophy? I hope for the best, but plan for the worse.