Reed L. Bartz
Although physicians often are recognized for their medical advancements, such as finding a cure to a specific disease, or developing a novel surgical procedure, some deserve recognition for outstanding accomplishments that may be less directly related to the science of medicine.
Thomas M. Heiser, MD is a practicing orthopedic physician in Lincoln, Nebraska. Before his medical training, he was an Academic All-American running back at the University of Nebraska. After his medical training, he returned to Lincoln to serve as a team physician for the University of Nebraska. Tom was in the midst of a tremendously successful career as an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine.
In the summer of 1990, tragedy struck. While surfing in Hawaii on a family vacation, Tom sustained a serious head injury and trauma to his cervical spine resulting in paralysis. He spent several months working diligently to regain motor strength in his upper extremities and rehabilitate his body to recover from his injuries. His knowledge of the human body along with his courage and faith have helped him not only overcome his injury, but excel at rebuilding and serving his community as a physician.
While many people with this type of devastating injury would not think of returning to practice medicine, Tom returned to clinical practice in 1991. He continues to have an active practice today. He relies on traditional skills that have become less used with the advancements of medicine, such as the art of taking a thorough history and listening attentively to the patient.
In addition to remaining active with his patients, Tom also is active on the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital Executive Committee. He has been a valuable resource to other patients and their families who are dealing with spinal cord injuries both locally and on the national level. Tom continues to be highly sought after by his patients. He is admired throughout the medical community.
I was first introduced to Tom by his longtime friend and partner Pat Clare, MD while attending the annual meeting of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons in Washington, DC. I was immediately affected when Pat told me his story, but it was not until I met Tom that I realized what a remarkable human being he is.
It is an honor to be able to practice medicine daily with Tom and his remarkable partners who help Tom stay active in clinical practice. I never discuss a patient with Tom without learning something from him, a feeling I am sure is shared by the many medical students who are fortunate enough to spend time with him in clinic.
We sometimes take things for granted. We forget how lucky we are to be in the greatest of professions. Tom has helped me remember that. His courage and persistence in performing his duties as a physician is like nothing I have ever seen. He comes to work every day with vigor and enthusiasm. Tom is an instrumental figure for anyone who is lucky enough to come in contact with him. He is a true role model for us as orthopedic surgeons, physicians, and human beings.
Dr Bartz is from Nebraska Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine, PC, Lincoln, Neb.