Dr. Joe Iocono is the featured physician in this week’s Making the Rounds. He is the chief of the division of pediatric surgery and vice chair of education of general surgery.

Pediatric surgeon Joe Iocono always wanted to be a doctor. Here’s why.

Making the RoundsDr. Joe Iocono is the featured physician in this week’s Making the Rounds. He is the chief of the division of pediatric surgery and vice chair of education of general surgery. Working primarily at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, Dr. Iocono takes care of people’s most precious possessions – their children.

What made you want to become a physician?

I wanted to be a doctor from the time I was a little kid, and part of that was I found out real early in life that I had a surgery when I was a baby. I was a real inquisitive kind of guy, and so I would ask my pediatrician about what this scar was on my head. He taught me, each year it seemed, a little bit more about the profession, and so I just wanted to be a doctor. It was never a second thought. I was going to be a doctor from the time I was in first grade.

Is there an aspect about being a physician that is particularly rewarding?

I love teaching the fact that medicine is a true profession. It’s not a job – it’s a true privilege to do what we do. You are truly there for patients, and the satisfaction you get doesn’t come from a paycheck, it doesn’t come from accolades – other than accolades from a mom or a kid that gives you a high five in the clinic.

What place would you most like to visit?

There is a trip to Alaska where you fly in, you dogsled and then you cruise home. I keep saying that one day in my life I’m going to do that.

The most satisfying trip I just did? I went to Kenya for 11 days and operated there for the first time this April. I needed that. That was a battery charger.

How would your friends and family describe you?

Intense, directed – always goal-directed – and that I need to relax more.

Do you have any guilty pleasure musical interests?

Oh yeah: ‘80s hair bands. And if you’re a student in my operating room, you’re going to get quizzed more about ‘80s hair bands than you will about surgical anatomy. ­

Check out this video with Dr. Iocono, where he discusses the rewards of working at UK HealthCare.

Next steps:

New Year's resolutions

New Year’s resolutions: Small changes can make a big difference

Resolving to make your health a priority this year? That’s terrific, but it can be tough to know just where to start.

The key is to think small. Rather than trying to make wholesale lifestyle changes that can be virtually impossible to maintain, try making small changes that can add up to big progress over time.

Try these:

Get moving. If you’ve been inactive, vowing to go to the gym every single day will probably backfire. Instead, go to the gym one more day a week than you’ve been going, or just find small ways to add movement to your day by parking your car farther from your destination, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or getting up from your desk once an hour to walk around.

Be mindful of your food. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your meals each day. Eat slowly and stop eating when you feel full.

Step away from the sugar. Too much sugar can increase your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. If you enjoy soft drinks, allow yourself one once in a while as a treat, but otherwise drink unsweetened tea or sparkling water. (Remember that diet drinks are not a good option; studies show they can actually lead to weight gain and other issues.)

Drink more water. Staying hydrated has a wealth of health benefits such as better digestion, improved kidney function and controlled appetite. Try keeping a water bottle at your desk and setting a reminder to drink every two hours.

Appreciate your shuteye. Adequate sleep is a great investment in your health, so don’t scrimp – you need at least seven hours a night. If you have trouble falling asleep, limit your caffeine consumption, especially after lunch.

Cut yourself some slack. Improving your health is a long-term effort, so don’t let one mistake or setback get you down. Instead, resolve to do better going forward.

Share your efforts. Having a support system can make your resolutions seem less overwhelming, so talk with friends and family members about your health goals, struggles and successes.

Next steps:

  • Want a weekly dose of health and wellness information? Sign up for our HealthMatters e-newsletter, which is packed with useful tips and advice and delivered to your inbox once a week.
  • If you’ve resolved to quit smoking, we can help. Check out these tobacco cessation resources and subscribe to this blog for upcoming features on how to quit.