Dr. Brooks trained as a general surgeon, like his father. He was in private practice for 27 years before becoming a surgicalist with The Surgicalist Group. Coming from a family of physicians with an uncle and cousin who are primary care physicians and a brother who is a dermatologist. Being independent-minded, his original career plan was to do something different from his family members and he thought about becoming an engineer. While attending Howard University, he started out as an engineering major. The university had joint undergraduate and medical school program where select students could completed both programs in six years. In his final rotation in medical school he fell completely in love with surgery and put him on the path of medicine versus engineering.
As the child of a surgeon, he had total knowledge that he was pursuing a demanding field. Vacations would be difficult, and like his dad, he would get called out at night. All the same, being a surgeon was a highly respected profession and he was willing to accept his calling. Back when he started practicing in 1990, things were simpler. His practice had a small staff with a medical assistant, a billing service, and an answering service. Surgeons were respected and hospital administrators understood the value surgeons brought to the hospital and treated them with respect.
The business of medicine changed a great deal over the years. Competition increased, relationship with payors changed, and he began to feel like a cog in the wheel. It was understood that if you did not follow the health system’s program, you could be easily replaced. The insurance companies multiplied and keeping up with contracting, negotiating rates, and getting paid was a nightmare. The camaraderie amongst physicians and referrals was no longer easy or enjoyable. Referrals dropped if the referring PCP learned a surgeon was not part of the insurance company’s network.
At the end of his 27-year surgical practice, which included three years working with his father at the end of his career, Dr. Brooks was burned out. His first marriage ended in divorce and the demanding life of a surgeon did not help that relationship. He decided it was time for a change. First, he considered hospital employment but that did not feel right to him. He worked per diem locum tenens surgeon and decided this wasn’t something he wanted to do either. At his wits’ end, he even considered joining the Navy as a surgeon. He’d seen an ad in a journal that said surgeons could join and work up to 60 years of age in the Navy. When he went to the interview with the Navy recruiter he was in for a surprise. It turned out that the cut-off age for enlisting as a surgeon was 42 years of age – he was too old. Another dead end. Then one day he received an email from a recruiter about a position in Dallas to become a surgicalist, working every other week. 26 weeks a year with a week-on and week-off schedule seemed to be too good to be true. Although he lived in Fort Worth and the position was in Dallas, he decided to talk with The Surgicalist Group’s Founder and CEO, Dr. Mit Desai. The two talked by phone and the rest is history. After 27 years as a private practice surgeon, he became a surgicalist.
Dr. Brooks said, “This was the best decision I’ve made in a long time.” He no longer had to be a businessman and a surgeon; he could focus solely on performing surgery which he loved. Headaches from working with insurance companies were no longer a worry. He did not have to work for referrals, something he was not good at and did not like doing it while he was in practice. On the personal side of things, as a surgicalist, he had more time for cooking and weightlifting, cycling, and yoga. On a whim, he and a friend decided to help each other out with creating some new healthy habits. His friend wanted to start exercising more and Dr. Brooks wanted to start eating healthier. His friend is a vegan and convinced Dr. Brooks to try a plant-based diet and in exchange, he would coach his friend on physical fitness. It has been a rewarding experience and he is finding a creative outlet in cooking. His latest favorite is a lentil soup recipe that is out of this world! His outlook is far from the burned-out surgeon of days gone by. Now with a young family with 3 and 5-year-old children and a wife of 10 years, he is happier than he has been in a long, long time. He even has a great relationship with his ex-wife and 30-year-old daughter from his first marriage. On his CV, his stated objective is “To advocate for patient healthcare through the surgical art.” It seems he has found his happy place with The Surgicalist Group.