Current - Bucks Current - Montgomery Current - Chester Current - Philly Archives- Bucks Archives- Montgomery Archives- Chester Archives- Philly Subscribe for FREE
Top Physicians Q&As

by Staff

Name: Michael Savage
Specialty: Interventional Cardiology
Location: Jefferson Heart Institute, Bala Cynwyd

What inspired you to be a doctor?
I was inspired by my dad, who was a family doctor in a small town in upstate Pennsylvania. It was a different era in medicine then. He did it all, taking care of people from cradle to grave–delivered babies, set fractured bones, removed tonsils, you name it.

Why did you choose your specialty? The immediate
gratification. Imagine having a person come to the ER with acute chest pain having a heart attack due to an occluded coronary artery and in less than an hour being able to wisk that patient up to the cardiac catheterization laboratory and have the artery completely opened by an angioplasty (all without surgery).

What’s your best piece of health advice? Keep your weight down. Obesity not only promotes heart disease but leads to other serious problems, such as diabetes and it takes its toll on the musculoskeletal system.

They say laughter is the best medicine. What’s your best joke (that we can print!)?
My friend Rodney has a check-up with Dr. Vinny in South Philly.
Dr. Vinny: Rodney you need to lose about 50 pounds. You’re way overweight.
Rodney: Whadya mean I’m overweight. I want a second opinion.
Dr. Vinny: You want a second opinion? You can have a second opinion. You’re ugly too!

Name:  David L. Fischman
Specialty: Cardiovascular Disease/Interventional Cardiology

What inspired you to be a doctor? My pediatrician. As frightened as I was to be in his office, he had a great demeanor and calmed my fears.

What’s your favorite tool or technology that you use in your practice? Coronary stent.  I was there from the beginning when this technology was being developed.

Who was your most memorable patient—and why?

A patient whose treatment inspired me to write my first paper that initiated my academic career. This patient had six stents placed in one artery essentially reconstructing his coronary artery. This occurred over 20 years ago when stents were investigational and not approved for routine use. He remains my patient to this date.

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

What’s one thing you love most about the Philadelphia area? The sports fans are truly crazy.

Who’s your favorite fictional doctor? Dr. Marcus Welby. This gives away my age.

Name: Todd J. Albert 
Specialty: Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon
Location: King of Prussia

What inspired you to be a doctor? My dad

Why did you choose your specialty? I was inspired by a famous orthopedist who also happened to be the father of my college roommate.

Who was your most memorable patient—and why?
There are many. The most memorable are those in whom we corrected the most massive deformities of the spine and those who were paralyzed or becoming paralyzed whom we prevented or rescued from that fate.

What’s your best piece of health advice?
Work out at least three times a week including cardio.

If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be doing? Teaching and coaching.

Who’s your favorite fictional doctor? Marcus Welby

Name: Paul Jay Fink 
Specialty: Psychiatry
Location: Bala Cynwyd

What inspired you to be a doctor? My mother insisted on it.

What’s your favorite tool or technology that you use in your practice?
My brain.

What’s your best piece of health advice?
Seek help if you feel you have become anxious or depressed.

What’s one thing you love most about the Philadelphia area? How it’s grown and changed over the years.

Who’s your favorite fictional doctor? Dr. Kildare

What’s something about yourself that your patients would be surprised to learn? That I cannot do anything with my hands!

They say laughter is the best medicine. What’s your best joke (that we can print!)?
I only know unprintable jokes!

Name: Thomas H Graham MD 
Specialty: Neurology
Location: Graham Neurological Associates and Paoli Hospital

What’s your favorite tool or technology that you use in your practice? As a traditional sort, I do favor the feel of a good reflex hammer for utility at the bedside, but no one could deny the overwhelming benefit that CT and MRI imaging has brought to neurology.

Who was your most memorable patient—and why? Among my most memorable patients was a young 13 year old with leukemia who needed monthly lumbar punctures to have chemotherapy infused in her spinal fluid. I was a naïve, green third-year med student, and her lumbar tap went so well with so little discomfort that from that time on she would have the clinic call to find me so I could personally do her tap ahead of all the more senior students and staff.

As a young man, not yet even with my MD degree, the confidence that gave me, at a time when I had little confidence and knew too well she was dying, has stayed with me forever since then.

I still have the school wallet picture she gave me as a token of her faith in me.
Unfortunately when we lost her, she taught me also how hard it can be to be so close, and to try so hard, but still lose the battle. The lesson served me well with my most singularly memorable patient, who was also happened to be my first born son. We lost that battle too. But that is a different story too close to tell.

Who’s your favorite fictional doctor? Dr. Leonard McCoy

What’s something about yourself that your patients would be surprised to learn?
I play keyboards in a rock band and have appeared on the front page of the Pottsville newspaper in my other life as a sometimes blacksmith (thanks to my father-in-law, the full time smith).

Name: William Tasman
Specialty: Ophthalmology
Location: Wyndmoor

What’s your favorite tool or technology that you use in your practice? There are so many it is hard to pick one, but I think that the laser has been extremely important for the treatment and ocular computerized tomography has been a great help in diagnosis.

If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be doing?
I’d be an archeologist.

What’s one thing you love most about the Philadelphia area? The cultural opportunities, such as the museums, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the theater

Who’s your favorite fictional doctor? Dr. Zhivago

What’s something about yourself that your patients would be surprised to learn? I love Broadway musicals

Name:  Janice A Gault
Specialty: Ophthalmology
Location: Conshohocken

Why did you choose your specialty? I have a surgeon’s mentality. I want to be able to fix problems. Someone comes in unable to see, and I can take out their cataract and make a huge difference in their lives. It’s a great feeling going home at the end of the day.

Who was your most memorable patient—and why?
A 90-year-old gentleman who wanted his cataracts removed so he could continue to fly the plane he had built himself. He’s still flying 3 years later.

What’s your best piece of health advice? Don’t ignore your symptoms. A lot of people I see come in frightened that they are going blind when it may be something that can be fixed. Some patients who have failed their driving tests tell me their vision has never been better after their cataracts are out.

Who’s your favorite fictional doctor?

House. It’s fun to watch, and there are such great characters on the show.

What’s something about yourself that your patients would be surprised to learn? I grew up on a dirt road in Kentucky.

READER'S CHOICE

Name: Bonnie Lee Ashby 
Specialty: Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease
Location: Bryn Mawr

What inspired you to be a doctor?
My baby brother was born with congenital heart disease, and I wanted to help him.

What’s your favorite tool or technology that you use in your practice?
My ears

What’s your best piece of health advice?
Love life, nap and garden.

What’s one thing you love most about the Philadelphia area?

Its beauty.

What’s something about yourself that your patients would be surprised to learn?

I hate exercise.

Name: Kenneth Briskin 
Specialty: Otolaryngology
Location: Crozer-Chester Medical Center

Why did you choose your specialty?
It allows me to treat patients of all ages with a wide array of problems. I can treat a child’s ear infection or allergies one day and perform an adult’s sinus or cancer surgery the next.

What’s you favorite tool or technology that you use in your practice?

When I perform endoscopic sinus surgery, I use a CT-guided navigation system. This allows me to see the location of my instruments on the patient’s X-ray as I operate.

Who was your most memorable patient, and why?
While I was an academic surgeon at Yale University, a patient came into the ED with difficulty breathing. He had a tumor in his voice box that I was able to remove without having to remove his entire larynx. He was able to keep his voice and has been cancer free for years. It reminds me of how important it is to preserve someone’s quality of life while treating their disease to the best of your ability.

What’s something about yourself that your patients would be surprised to learn?
I play ice hockey in an adult league and love to compete.

Name: Dr. Glenn DeBias 
Specialty: Aesthetic Medicine
Location: Institute of Laser and Aesthetic Medicine, Doylestown and King of Prussia

What inspired you to choose your specialty?

My father

What’s your favorite tool or technology that you use in your practice?
Active Fx, a fractional CO2 laser for tissue tightening and resurfacing

How many procedures have you done throughout your career?
Approximately 150,000

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

Who is your favorite fictional doctor?
Dr. Marcus Welby

What’s something about yourself that your patients would be surprised to learn?
I also have a math degree.

Name: Robert J. Skalicky 
Specialty: Plastic Surgery
Location: Newtown

What inspired you to be a doctor?
I always loved the sciences, but never wanted to spend my life in a lab looking through a microscope. Medicine allowed me to pursue science in a people-oriented field. It also allows me to truly benefit from the experience of helping others.

Why did you choose your specialty?
Plastic surgery includes the element of creativity in all of its procedures since every patient’s anatomy can be so varied. I love being able to create, enhance or reduce problem areas for each patient and reestablish both symmetry and beauty.

What’s your best piece of health advice?
Reduce stress! Life has become so fast paced with new technology, competition in the workplace and financial constraints that we sometimes forget about our own well-being.

Who’s your favorite fictional doctor?
I’d have to say Quincy, M.E. He was an excellent clinician, had no ego and lived on a boat.

Name: John A. Handal
Specialty: Spine Surgery
Location: Einstein at Elkins Park

What inspired you to be a doctor?

Doing house calls with my father, a general surgeon, and walking up four flights of stairs carrying his doctor bag.

Why did you choose your specialty?
Because it is the one specialty in medicine where functional restoration is everything.

Who was your most memorable patient, and why?
Judy had cancer in the spine.  I said to her that she was very brave to undergo this procedure to which she responded “Do I have a choice?” Judy taught me that when we are sick, we have one choice which is to be brave and do what we need to do to get better.

What’s your best piece of health advice?
Walk!

If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be doing?
A history teacher.

Who’s your favorite fictional doctor?
Trapper John, MD. Some people say I look like him.

Suburban Life Magazine