Med School/Year Graduated: University of Iowa, 2002
Years in Practice: 17
In layman’s terms, what does a pathologist do?
The specialty of pathology is as broad as the specialties of internal medicine and surgery. As an outpatient gastrointestinal pathologist, I spend most of my day looking through a microscope at thin sections of stained tissue, interpreting what I see and creating reports that discuss my findings. Some of my findings include infection, inflammatory conditions and cancer, just to name a few.
What is the biggest misconception about your field you encounter?
Most people I talk to think that all pathologists work in hospital morgues or at medical examiners’ offices. Not so! Also, very few people realize how many skilled staff members it takes to run a laboratory. At [Arizona Digestive Health], I rely on my staff of amazing laboratory assistants and histotechnologists to process the submitted tissue and create beautiful slides for me to analyze.
In Arizona, many patients are familiar with basal and squamous cell skin cancer testing, and how pathologists contribute to that procedure. Is any of your work similarly done in real time, while a patient is still in the clinic?
In my practice, real-time diagnoses are not essential for treatment. I frequently make diagnoses based on very subtle findings. In order to see the subtle findings, we fix our biopsies in formalin [solution] for multiple hours, process the biopsies overnight and review them under the microscope the following day. These additional steps are not necessary in every clinical setting, such as in Mohs surgery for skin cancer.
You did your undergrad and medical school work in Iowa. Were you bummed when the Iowa Café closed in Mesa? Where do you get loose-meat sandwiches now?
Iowa Cafe? Darn, I’m bummed that no one told me about that place! Fortunately, my wife makes the best vegan loose-meat sandwich this side of the Mississippi.
What do you enjoy doing in your downtime?
Spending time with my wife and kids. I also enjoy traveling, photography, hiking, cycling, fly fishing and helping out on my in-laws’ family farm when I am back in Iowa.
What are you watching on Netflix these days?
Mostly travel shows and indie films.
“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be…”
A university professor, likely involved in cancer research… or astronomy. Or physics, or chemistry, or philosophy, or engineering or something like that. I love the challenge of diving deep into complex issues and trying to make sense of the chaos.