We’re digging into the impressive roster of physicians we have here at Orthopedic Institute (OI), letting you get to know some of the team members that make us proud.
Today’s showcased team member is Dr. Eric S. Watson, one of our physicians. Dr. Watson graduated from California State University—Fullerton before attending medical school at Creighton University. He joined the OI team in 2004 and has spent his time offering specialized care in foot, ankle, knee and general orthopedics.
Let’s take a look at why Dr. Watson loves serving his patients and how he approaches work in the orthopedic medicine field.
1. How did you decide to become a physician?
I like to say that, when I was five years old, I broke my femur, was in traction and a body cast and, after that, had always wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon—except that’s not really true. (The femur breaking part is, but my interest in orthopedics started much later.)
I always liked science and always did well in sciences in high school. I went to college and started pre-med—I liked the courses and the science behind it, but I didn’t really know everything that being a doctor entailed. I took a course to be an EMT, and I worked as a tech in the ER—that was really my first patient experience. I really enjoyed it. I liked taking care of the patients. I liked what I was seeing—the medical side of it. When I decided I wanted to go to medical school, I liked orthopedics best. I applied for residency, and here I am.
2. What led you to join the OI team?
I had been working in Kansas City, and my wife was finished with her residency. My family lives south of Las Vegas, and that really was not a place we wanted to raise our family, so we thought maybe we would look up Sioux Falls. Before we moved here, we happened to be visiting when Orthopedic Institute had built its new building. We were with my wife’s family, and they took us by it—they kept dropping hints that we should live here. It was a no-brainer once I interviewed at OI. There is just much more opportunity—you have your own life, your own say.
3. What’s your favorite part of your job?
Obviously, I like the technical piece. I like surgery. I love putting fractures back together. It is also always fun to get to know people. You see them, they come in and they are kind of at their worst. They are having a bad day when they have to meet me, usually. Then they heal and get well. What is really fun for me isn’t the last time I see them in the office, but when I run into them on the street. I see them walking, not limping, and it makes you feel good. I like it when I see people out in the community that I have taken care of.
4. What are the strengths of the OI physician team?
We don’t have any holes—we have got everything covered. We cover every piece of orthopedics. We have joint reconstruction plus revision. We have a tumor guy and a pediatric guy—hand, foot and ankle. There is just nothing we are lacking. I think people would be amazed at what we do here and the things we accomplish. There is almost no need to go elsewhere. I think that is the strength—we have the areas covered, and they are covered by very strong surgeons.
5. What’s the best part of working with patients?
It is really fun to see them come back and resume their life—that is one of the biggest things in orthopedics. It’s concrete. It’s not like having a chronic illness. If someone had a fracture, and you put it back together, they heal. So many people have these injuries and they struggle, but they do well in spite of it. It is awesome. That is what I get the most out of—seeing people excel.
6. If you could tell each patient one thing before they came in to see you, what would it be?
What I would want people to know is that my decision-making is always going to be based on what I would do for myself or my own family. That does not mean that everyone’s care is going to be the same—it depends on what the overall situation is. I try to look at it from the perspective of what I would want, what I would want for my mom, cousin or kids. That’s how I try to make my decisions.
7. What would you consider your career highlight?
I don’t know—I am not sure if I have had it yet. There is not one patient or one thing that makes a highlight. All of the individuals go into the tapestry, so hopefully your highlight is your career—not one thing in your career. Hopefully it is consistently good care over an extended amount of time. To me, that would be the highlight. That you would consistently do well by your patients. There are always certain cases that make you feel good, but that’s not the end all, be all. The goal is to do well for everyone you take care of.
8. How do you spend your time when you’re not at OI?
Usually shuttling kids to athletic things. I feel like a chauffeur when I am not here. I’m a soccer and hockey dad. I also like to fish. (I don’t get to fish very often, but I enjoy fishing.) I really enjoy watching my kids play sports and music, too. My oldest enjoys music, so we go to his recitals and performances. To see someone play an instrument, because I have none of that skill, is impressive enough. But then, to have practiced something, get up in front of your peers and people you don’t even know and perform is… Wow!
9. What’s your go-to movie snack?
Junior Mints! I am a bit of a Junior Mints snob. If they are old and kind of chewy, then I am not that big of a fan. But if they are new and fresh and the chocolate is almost like crispy then… good stuff. By the way, I don’t take them in the operating room—no Kramers. (Excuse the Seinfeld reference.)
10. How would you spend your ideal birthday?
A birthday is just a day—it’s nice when people wish you well, but I guess I don’t have a perfect birthday plan. Since I have a wife and four kids, I would rather be doing what the family wants to do. We make a big deal about our kids’ birthdays—we like to make it all about them! I think going through medical school and residency that holidays or special days seem to be de-valued, because sometimes you are on-call for your birthday or Christmas. We still get together for whatever we’re celebrating, but the “day” itself does not always mean that much—and I know my wife is kind of the same way, working in the ER. (They are never closed either.)