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Making the Rounds with Dr. Amit Patel

Dr. Amit Patel explains how he went from sculpture to surgery

Making the RoundsIn this week’s Making the Rounds conversation, we caught up with Dr. Amit Patel, a surgeon who specializes in reconstructive and cosmetic treatment of the head and neck. Dr. Patel sees a wide variety of patients, including those who have had cancer or traumatic injuries of the face, as well as individuals interested in cosmetic enhancements and rejuvenations of the nose, face and neck.

How did you become interested in medicine?

It’s been a little bit of an interesting path. I actually wanted to be an artist – a sculptor – when I was growing up. Then the summer between high school and college, I happened to work at a doctor’s office and really fell in love with it. Those two worlds pretty much collided, and the rest has been history.

How is being a surgeon similar to being an artist?

My patients become my artistic medium, if you will, and I approach them from an artistic standpoint. How can I best and most creatively solve the problem at hand? How can I put these patients back together and get them into the real world and have them not feel insecure, have them not feel like they’re different? That’s a very big part of my patient-care philosophy.

What experiences have most shaped your career?

One of the unique experiences that has shaped my career was when I became a patient myself. I had a skiing accident and spent a fair amount of time away from what I normally do, which is a lot of reconstructive surgery.

I frequently have to tell my patients to be patient with the process and to let a tincture of time take effect. Having to swallow that pill myself as a patient changed the way I approach things and the way I approach my patient care.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work?

It’s the trust that develops between me and my patients. When they come to me – especially my reconstructive patients – they’re often in a place where they’ve kind of lost their sense of identity. The trust that they hand to me, I take to heart and I take a lot of pride in that. It’s something I really, really enjoy.


Check out our video interview with Dr. Patel, where he tells us more about the conditions he treats and how he gets to know his patients.


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Dr. Eric Moghadamian

Broken bones of his own inspired this surgeon’s lifelong passion

Making the RoundsFor our latest Making the Rounds interview, we chatted with Dr. Eric Moghadamian, an orthopaedic trauma surgeon at UK HealthCare. Dr. Moghadamian is originally from Elizabethtown, Ky., and attended medical school at the University of Kentucky. 

What kinds of patients do you see?

I tend to see patients on their worst day, after they fall off a roof or they’re involved in a motor vehicle collision, motorcycle accident or even a sporting activity where they just break a simple bone.

My job is to put those folks back together and to restore them back to their normal function that they had prior to their accident.

How did you become interested in medicine?

During the course of my own sporting activities as a kid, I wound up breaking quite a few bones. And through my visits in and out of the doctor, I ended up having an affinity for orthopaedics. That’s kind of what set me on the path that I ended up following.

Are you a sports fan?

Oh yeah. I grew up playing soccer and baseball. I played sports in high school and some in college, and I still watch sports on a regular basis. I watch a lot of Premier League soccer and, of course, UK basketball and UK football.

What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

Most folks, in general, are surprised that I’m from Kentucky. They see my name, they see my picture and they tend to ask, “Where are you from?” And I’m like, “I grew up down the road.”

You have young kids – what’s your favorite part about being a dad?

It’s all good! The hugs are the best, I guess.


Check out our video interview with Dr. Moghadamian, where he explains how his team works to provide the best care possible for people with traumatic injuries.


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Making the Rounds with Dr. Andrew Leventhal

Cardiologist Dr. Andrew Leventhal helps a unique group of patients

Making the RoundsIn this week’s Making the Rounds interview, we caught up with Dr. Andrew Leventhal, director of the Kentucky Adult Congenital Heart Program at the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute. Dr. Leventhal is one of the nation’s few adult congenital heart disease specialists, helping a unique set of patients who are born with heart defects and who require specialized care as they become adults.

Why is adult congenital heart disease a challenging specialty?

Patients born with heart defects face unique challenges as they get older. They outgrow their pediatric cardiologists, but their heart problems can be very different from cardiac conditions that begin during adulthood.

One of the problems with this specialty is, because they have had good care in the past, many of my patients feel well and don’t necessarily think they need follow-up care. That’s why we make such a great effort to go out into the community and make sure these patients understand that they do need to see doctors for the rest of their lives.

What can a patient expect during their first appointment with you?

Many of my patients had surgery when they were children, so we talk a lot about their past. Even though they may be young, they actually have a fairly extensive medical history.

We really start at the beginning and go through their lives to make sure we have a very accurate perception of what they’ve had done in the past and where they are now.

What inspires you?

When I get up in the morning and I see my patients and see what they’re going through, that’s very inspiring. And the work ethic of my colleagues here at UK is quite inspiring, too.

If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be doing?

I’d be coaching baseball somewhere.

What do you enjoy most about living in Lexington?

I like that fact that it’s a city, but it has a small-town feel. I think it’s the most beautiful place in the world.

My wife and I very commonly will go out on the weekends into farm country just to drive around and really wonder at how nice of a place it is here.


Check out our video interview with Dr. Leventhal, where he explains how exciting new treatment options are helping patients feel better faster.


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Dr. Sandra Beck

Dr. Sandra Beck’s patient-care mantra: ‘I treat you like family’

Making the RoundsFor our latest Making the Rounds interview, we sat down with colon and rectal surgeon Dr. Sandra Beck. Dr. Beck is the head of colon and rectal surgery section at UK and the program director for the general surgery residency. 

How did you become interested in medicine?

I actually started out in business in undergrad, and I realized I was helping all my friends in the sciences with their homework. I figured out pretty quickly I was in the wrong business. I explored just doing research, but realized that I actually really liked working with people. So, after doing a few years in research, I ended up going to medical school and then ended up as a surgeon.

What conditions do you treat?

We mainly treat diseases of the small bowel, colon, rectum and anus. That includes inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. And we deal with all the complications of those diseases.

We take care of patients with colon and rectal cancer, and we also take care of patients with diverticulitis or other benign diseases of the colon. And we also do things like hemorrhoids and infections around the anus.

What do you tell patients who are nervous or embarrassed about their condition?

We look at things in a very clinical sense, and it’s something we are trying to fix. So, don’t be afraid to come in and talk to us about things.

Also, colorectal surgeons have great senses of humor. We tend to be a lot of fun and we’re pretty nice people. But if you don’t want us to joke about things, we won’t. We’re sensitive, too.

What’s your favorite part of mentoring residents?

We have them for five years, and so it’s really neat to see them mature and to see what I call “the lights to go on.”

When you’re working with them in the OR at first, you can tell they’re not really seeing what you’re seeing. But then by the end of it all, they’ve matured into these great surgeons who I know can go out into their communities and be a real asset. It’s really very gratifying to see them mature in that way and to be able to be part of that.

What is your patient-care philosophy?

I try to approach it as if you are one of my family members. I try to be your quarterback, and if we need to coordinate care, I try to do that for you. But I also try to be the person you can come to to ask questions.

I think being a physician means being an educator, and I feel like we – me and the patient – need to be a good team. I need to educate you about your disease so that you know what you can do better. I’ll tell you what my role is, and then we work through the process together.

I think that’s one of the reasons my patients like me – I treat them like family. I try to make it feel like we’re all part of the same team. And then once we get you through treatment, you’re always part of the family.


Check out our video interview with Dr. Beck, where she talks more about the patient-first approach at UK HealthCare.


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Dr. Patrick O'Donnell

Oncologist Patrick O’Donnell on why he has the world’s best job

Making the RoundsWe sat down with Dr. Patrick O’Donnell, an orthopaedic oncologist at the UK Markey Cancer Center, for our latest installment of Making the Rounds, a blog series that introduces you to the providers at UK HealthCare. Dr. O’Donnell specializes in treating bone cancer and also does reconstructive orthopaedic surgeries. 

How did you become interested in orthopaedic oncology?

I actually went into medicine with an interest in doing oncology, and I always knew I wanted to be a doctor. I had some interaction with cancer patients when I was a really young kid, and I just found it fascinating that your body could attack itself.

It got me interested in medicine, so I went to medical school saying, “I’m going to be an oncologist.” But then I did a surgical rotation and I loved it. I loved having a problem and then a surgery and then a solution. And then I ended up really liking the reconstruction, the big surgeries of orthopaedic oncology. I’ve got the best job in the world.

What kinds of conditions do you treat?

I specialize in orthopaedic oncology and reconstructive orthopaedics. I treat a lot of different types of cancers. I treat soft tissue sarcomas, bone sarcomas, bone tumors that are not cancerous tumors, and then I treat a lot of metastatic disease to bone – the so-called “bone cancer.”

Bone cancers that start in the bone are called sarcomas, and sarcomas are the rarest type of human cancer. They’re also one of the most aggressive types of human cancer. I treat both types of bone tumors – those that have started outside the bone and tumors that have spread inside the bone.

Tell us about your interest in rock climbing.

I’ve always really liked rock climbing, and Kentucky is like the world mecca of rock climbing. An hour away is the Red River Gorge, and there are over 3,000 documented climbing routes. Recently in Lexington, we’ve gotten a new climbing gym, which has been great.

I got reinvigorated with rock climbing when my daughter had a birthday party at the gym. I went and just got completely excited, and my kids got into it. And now it’s the way that I blow off steam when I’m not at the hospital. I’ve got a great group of friends that I climb with.

What’s your favorite food?

I really like Indian food mostly because I don’t get it very often, so when I do get it, it’s a big treat. My wife, she can’t do curry, she can’t do Indian food, so the only time I get Indian food is when I’m by myself.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

A weekend when I’m not working, I get to spend a lot of time with my family. My son and I will play baseball. My daughter is a really good swimmer, so we’ll get to go to a swim meet. And then we really like going out to dinner and trying all the different places in Lexington.

So, an ideal weekend would be a little bit of baseball, a little bit of swimming and going out to dinner at a new restaurant.


Watch our interview with Dr. O’Donnell, where he discusses how his experience treating patients with bone cancers has expanded treatment options for other patients with orthopaedic problems.


Next steps:

  • July is Sarcoma Awareness Month. Learn more about Markey’s Musculoskeletal Oncology team, which is nationally recognized for expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of bone tumors, soft tissue sarcomas and metastatic diseases of bone.
  • One of Dr. O’Donnell’s patients is a well-known member of the Big Blue Nation – former UK basketball player Todd Svoboda. When Todd was diagnosed with bone cancer, he turned to Markey and Dr. O’Donnell for help. Read Todd’s story.
In the latest edition of Making the Rounds, Dr. Scott Mair discusses always wanting to be a doctor, his hobbies and why he enjoys living in Lexington.

A passion for sports led Dr. Scott Mair to orthopaedic surgery

Making the RoundsWe sat down with Dr. Scott Mair, an orthopaedic surgeon at UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, for our latest installment of Making the Rounds, a blog series that introduces you to some of our providers at UK HealthCare. Dr. Mair specializes in shoulder and knee arthroscopy and shoulder reconstruction.

How did you first become interested in medicine?

I grew up in Rochester, Minn., and everybody there is a doctor, basically. My dad was a pediatrician. I didn’t know there was anything else to do. I’m kind of kidding, but there are an unbelievable number of doctors there, per capita, just because the Mayo Clinic’s there and it’s a small town. So obviously I knew a lot of doctors, and they seemed to like what they did.

Why did you decide to specialize in orthopaedics?

It had more to do with my love of sports. I wasn’t a spectacular athlete, but I played a lot of sports, and I enjoyed being around sports. So when I would hear about team doctors, it seemed like a good fit. I get to work with several of the UK teams, which is a lot of fun.

What types of injuries do you treat?

Mostly what I see is shoulder problems. Probably about 80 percent of my practice is shoulder things. A lot of young athletes with stability problems, and then older people who have rotator cuff problems. But I see all kinds of other, different shoulder abnormalities, too.

What should patients know about rehab after surgery?

People think rehab is something where they have to push through the pain and do everything they’re supposed to do – which, in certain surgeries or certain rehabs, is important. But a lot of times, it’s almost the opposite, where once people start feeling well, we’ve got to slow them down because some things take months to heal.

For a lot of my younger patients especially, after a couple of months when we’ve stabilized their shoulder, they feel like they’re good as new, and they start doing things they’re not supposed to do before they’re healed. So half my time I spend trying to slow people down while they’re healing up after surgery instead of pushing them along, like you do in some surgeries.

What do you do in your spare time?

I have four daughters, so most of the time I’m doing things with them. I used to play a lot of golf, but they’re not much into that, so I spend a lot of time chasing them around for their sports and things. They range from age 12 to 20 now.

Describe your ideal weekend. 

I’d be at a UK basketball game and hanging out with my family after that, doing something with our friends. Maybe go fishing.

What do you like most about living in Lexington?

I’ve been here about 18 years and I think it’s a fun place. There’s a lot to do, it’s easy to get to big cities, but it’s not such a big place that you can’t get around where you need to go. And it’s got friendly people.

What’s your favorite movie?

I like some of the old-school movies like Caddyshack and Fletch. Those are probably still my favorites.


Check out our video interview with Dr. Scott Mair below, where he talks about why working with the student-athletes at UK is so rewarding.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, which provides leading-edge treatment for a variety of injuries and conditions.
  • When Patty Lane was diagnosed with arthritis in her hip, she was told her time as a competitive triathlete was over. That’s when she turned to UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine for a second opinion. Read Patty’s story.

Even as a child, Rachel Miller knew she wanted to be a doctor

Making the RoundsWe’re joined by Dr. Rachel Miller for our latest edition of Making the Rounds. Dr. Miller is a gynecologic oncologist at the UK Markey Cancer Center who specializes in ovarian cancer screening and treatment. She’s also the co-director of Markey’s new Molecular Tumor Board, a powerful tool in the fight against cancer.

When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?

I think I knew in elementary school. I was very interested in doctoring from an early age. My mom actually saved my Fisher-Price doctor kit and cleaned it up and gave it to my son. So it is well-worn. I did a lot of physical exams when I was between the ages of 4 and 6, I think.

I was a chemistry major, and I thought I might spend some time in the lab. And I was interested in pharmacy, too. So it’s been a long-standing desire. [The challenge] was just trying to figure out what aspect of healthcare and medicine and interaction with people would work best.

What’s your favorite food?

Spaghetti and meatballs. It’s comfort food, and actually, it’s one of the first dishes that my husband made for me when we were dating. It was a birthday dish.

How would your friends describe you?

I think they’d describe me as energetic, active. Kind of crazy in that I may have a little higher work-to-off-time ratio than most of my friends, but we make the most of our time together.

Describe your ideal weekend.

I’d get out of work at a reasonable time on Friday and probably have some Mexican or Indian food or sushi for dinner – some sort of special treat for Friday night. And then on Saturday, I’d wake up – I have a 3 1/2-year-old – so I’d wake up with him in a really good mood and we’d play and have a nice, quiet breakfast. I’d go out for a run, and then we’d have an afternoon of maybe swimming in the summertime or the YMCA in the wintertime. We’d get a babysitter at 6 p.m., and I’d have an evening with my husband. Really, it’d be a quiet weekend at home. I feel like more and more we treasure the downtime and the routine family time at home.

What’s your favorite part about being a mom?

There are so many great parts about it. I think it’s just that my son challenges me in ways that I didn’t realize a 3 1/2-year-old could challenge me. I thought I had a hard job until I became a mom, and I realized that is so much more difficult at times. I just enjoy watching him grow and seeing how every day is just loaded with new experiences for him and how he approaches those experiences, watching him learn language, hearing him laugh – just the day-to-day interactions.


Watch our video interview with Dr. Miller below, where she describes the types of patients she sees at Markey and talks about why she enjoys practicing medicine in Kentucky.


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Making the Rounds with Dr. Susanne Arnold

Meet oncologist Susanne Arnold, second-generation doctor and proud Kentuckian

Making the RoundsOur featured provider in this week’s Making the Rounds is Dr. Susanne Arnold, an oncologist at the UK Markey Cancer Center who treats patients with lung cancer and head and neck cancer.

Dr. Arnold is particularly interested in early therapies for cancer and leads several clinical trials at Markey.

How did you become interested in medicine?

My first memories of my life were going with my dad to the hospital because he was a doctor. And that’s how I first became interested in medicine. He was the director of the Center on Aging here for over 25 years and so I have great pride in being a second-generation doctor here at the University of Kentucky.

And even deeper than that is my love of Kentucky, because I’m an eighth-generation Kentuckian and my children are ninth-generation Kentuckians. So serving Kentucky in the little area that I can make a difference – which is in cancer care, where we have some of the biggest health disparities and highest mortality rates – is a real calling to me.

What is your patient care philosophy?

Cancer is really scary, and when you think about how you care for someone with cancer, you have to think about what their goals are first and foremost. I try to put the patient in the center and say, ‘What are your goals? How are we going to help you live your life with cancer and hopefully past the time that you have cancer?’

What characteristic do you most admire in other people?

In my patients, I admire courage because they have to face so many things and they face it so much more courageously than I feel like I would. In others, I admire those who are genuine and care about people.

If you could meet any person from history, who would it be?

I always have wanted to go back in time and see what the heck Stonehenge is really about. That seems really weird, but it’s such a wild thing. I’d love to know why it’s there. What the heck were they doing? I don’t know that I’d want to meet the Stonehenge caveman, but I would love to see that.

And I would love to meet J.R.R. Tolkien because I love his books.

How would your friends describe you?

Nerdy and that I work too hard. I hope people think of me as a kind person and that I’m generous.


Watch our video interview with Dr. Arnold, where she discusses what types of patients she sees at Markey.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about clinical trials at Markey, where our experts are advancing cancer care and giving patients access to the latest treatment options.
  • If you’ve been diagnosed with any form of head and neck cancer or lung cancer, our specialized treatment teams are here to help. Learn more about the leading-edge, personalized care we provide.
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.


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Dr. James Liau

Pediatric plastic surgeon James Liau focuses on ‘the other side’ of surgery

Making the RoundsDr. James Liau practices the complete spectrum of plastic and reconstructive surgery. He also specializes in pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgery and craniofacial surgery, focusing on comprehensive treatment of children with cleft lips and palates, congenital craniofacial deformities, as well as other more unique congenital problems requiring pediatric plastic surgery.

What attracted you to plastic surgery?

I think what really attracted me to plastic surgery was being “on the other side” of surgery. What I mean by that is, for example, in a lot of general surgery or cancer surgery they take out the disease, they take out the cancer. However, patients then have a defect. And I think a lot of times they feel like they are lacking. As a plastic surgeon you’re on the recovery side, so you’re trying to restore.

Describe your care philosophy.

When I take care of a patient, my philosophy is more about the patient. Yes they have a disease process or they may have some issues, whether it be trauma, reconstruction or cosmetic, but it’s more about the patient and what they want. What is it that bothers them, and what are they looking for to help them move on with their lives?

Can you recall your first day of medical school?

I’m originally from California, and I did my undergrad out in California at UC Berkeley. So the first day of med school at UK, I just happened to sit next to a person I had gone to school with in Pasadena. It was very ironic considering that, of all the people that I’m sitting down next to in the state of Kentucky, it was someone from California.

Is there a place you would like to go for a vacation?

Well, we’ve been doing it every year–it’s a surf trip with my wife. I usually go to Costa Rica. I’ve been to Mexico, too, and I’m actually looking at some places in El Salvador.

What’s your favorite movie?

“Maroux.” It’s a movie about these guys trying to climb Maroux, which is a peak that’s never been climbed before. They are three professional climbers, and it’s a pretty interesting saga because the first time they did it they failed. It’s a really good movie. Pretty inspiring.

Is there a type of food you like best?

Anything with noodles in it!


Check out our full interview with Dr. Liau, where he talks about what drew him to pediatric plastic surgery.


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