2022 Top Doctor: Helen Chang Hall, M.D.

Editorial StaffMarch 3, 2022
Share This
Photography by Steve Craft
Photography by Steve Craft

Colon & Rectal Surgery

Med School/Year Graduated: Medical College of Wisconsin, 2008

Years in Practice: 6

What are some preventive measures people can take to maintain colorectal health?

Colonoscopies! They could be diagnostic and therapeutic, but I prefer them to be preventive. Removing polyps before they have a chance to turn into a cancer is key.

Are there other preventive tools for patients, or are colonoscopies just about it?

Colonoscopies are the gold standard of care. However, for people who are not high risk, there are stool sample studies available.

What or who inspired you to enter this field?

Dr. Pello, my attending during training. He [told me] one reason he likes this field is that there’s never been a colorectal surgeon he didn’t like. He is a good surgeon, a good man, and someone I strive to be like.

Where bedside manner is concerned, a bit of levity has been known to ease the awkwardness of rectal examinations and colonoscopies. Do you have any zingers in your arsenal?

You can’t be in this field without knowing all sorts of sometimes slightly inappropriate jokes about the bottom side. Like this: “What did Obi-Wan say to the colorectal surgeon?” Answer: “These aren’t the ’rrhoids you’re looking for.” Or: “Did you hear about the golfer who started a colonoscopy clinic? He does 18 holes a day.”

What are the most common surgeries you perform? Have any been trending upward or downward?  

Colon resection surgeries of course. There does appear to be an increase in colorectal cancers, particularly in younger patients, which is why the age recommended for colonoscopies has decreased from 50 to 45. Possibly earlier, if there is any family history. Please get screened!

Name the best depiction of your field in TV or film that you’ve ever seen.

I’m not sure my field has been on TV or film. Seinfeld had an episode involving a certain proctologist and a certain ASSMAN license plate. Numerous people in the field have tried and failed to obtain such a license plate.

What are your hobbies and interests outside medicine?

Anything and everything that involves the great outdoors. Hiking with my dogs, rock climbing, paddle boarding, kayaking, scuba diving, camping, Jeeping, exploring.

“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be…”

Maybe a veterinarian. I love animals.