All in a Day’s Work: Robert Anderson, MD, a hand and upper extremity specialist with Summit Orthopedics, talks about his job
Q: What's a typical workday like for you?
A: I work at several locations in the East Metro, usually spending half the day in surgery and half in the clinic. The majority of my surgery is outpatient. Conditions include the gamut of sports injuries to trauma, tendonitis, aches and pains, work-related injuries, fractures and the nerve conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. Unless it's an emergency, I see patients in the clinic first and decide whether to refer them to a physical therapist, treat them myself without surgery or perform surgery. Most of my patient relationships tend to be short: it's assessing the problems, fixing them and getting them back to their pre-injury status.
Q: How does your role fit into the bigger health care picture?
A: I have a personal interest in trying to contain the cost of medicine. I look at what's most cost effective in health care. I think that's a lost art in today's technology. The complication risk of outpatient surgery is numerously smaller for post-operative complications for infection rates. In general when you measure complication rates of all comers, it's historically always been lower [outpatient] because the staff is retained.
Q: Who do you interact with during the course of the day?
A: I have a nurse and a physician assistant. I also interact with patients, families and referring physicians.
Q: Why did you become an upper extremity specialist?
A: There has never been a machine built that can replicate the functions of the human hand. The attraction was the complexity, the uniqueness of the hand. Plus, hand surgeons are trained in orthopedics, neurosurgery and vascular surgery. It's one of the disciplines that is cross-trained.
Q: What do you like about your work?
A: Every single day I get dozens of people thanking me for what I do for a living.