Surgical Resident Merges Curiosity with Medicine
Long before he was a surgeon, Todd Neideen, MD, loved fixing things.
“As a kid, I was always taking things apart and fixing them,” Dr. Neideen said. “If it wasn’t broken, I’d break it. If it was broken, I could fix it. When you do this as often as I did, eventually you figure out how everything works.”
Little did he know his curiosity about the inner workings of things would lead to a career in medicine. Dr. Neideen, a native of Springfield, Ill., majored in electrical engineering and earned his master’s degree before attending medical school at the University of Illinois – Chicago.
“I was interested in electrophysiology (the study of electrical activity in the body), and that bridged the gap,” Dr. Neideen said. A research project in medical school, for instance, looked at the effects of simulated lightning.
Ultimately, Dr. Neideen gravitated toward surgery. “I like working with my hands,” he said. “Now, instead of fixing things, I fix people.”
Today, Dr. Neideen is a general surgery resident at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. He has embraced medicine with a passion. In his five years at Froedtert & the Medical College, Dr. Neideen has completed a trauma/critical care fellowship and a year of research, in addition to meeting residency requirements. He also worked on his master’s degree in epidemiology.
The trauma/critical care fellowship led to an interest in geriatric trauma. “About 10 percent of the trauma population is over age 65,” Dr. Neideen said. If anything, that number may increase in the coming years, as baby boomers age and maintain a level of activity unimagined by previous generations.
Treating a geriatric trauma patient is quite different from treating a younger patient, Dr. Neideen said. “Since they have more fragile bones, they tend to have more broken bones,” he explained. “They’re also tough to figure out, because you don’t know what the baseline status is when they come in. With 25-year-olds, you can assume they’re pretty healthy. But you don’t know that with older folk.”
Dr. Neideen also learned family involvement is crucial when treating older trauma patients.
“If patients are in intensive care for more than four days, we have a family meeting to discuss care,” Dr. Neideen said. With geriatric patients, that often means working with adult children and elderly spouses. Sometimes, discussions center around treatments a patient would or would not want.
Dr. Neideen conducted research focusing on geriatric trauma patients as well. “I looked at the effects of two common drugs, to see if taking those drugs before trauma affects the outcome. We found that patients with head injuries did worse if they were taking warfarin (a blood thinner); for patients who were taking a beta blocker (a heart drug) and had a head injury, there was no difference. But if they had another injury, they actually had a worse prognosis.”
His path to medicine may have been roundabout, but Dr. Neideen knows he’s in the right place now. “Froedtert & the Medical College were my first choice,” he said. “Eventually, I’d like to be a trauma surgeon specializing in geriatric trauma.”
Source: Froedtert Today
Date: March 2008