Race horses and humor may not be what is expected in a surgical consultation, but for Norfolk surgeon Dr. Andrew Reynolds, they are an integral part of his practice.
While treating the physical ailment is important, he places just as much importance on his interactions with patients.
Growing up in Hastings, Reynolds always had the close-knit feeling of a smaller town. The close community helped him find his passion, as his interest in medicine started in junior high as he looked up to his own doctor in Hastings.
“I thought my doctor was the coolest guy in the world,” Reynolds said. “I also had an interest in just helping people and helping them if they’re sick.”
His education at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a large teaching hospital, gave him experience working in emergency rooms and trauma centers in a bigger city. In Omaha, he gained experience treating gunshot wounds, stabbings and trauma — cases much different from those commonly seen in Norfolk.
“(Omaha) had a lot more patients who were homeless or had no insurance,” Reynolds said. “Here it is a community hospital in a smaller community with not nearly as much violence. It is not quite as hectic as a big city.”
Reynolds earned his doctor of medicine degree in Omaha, worked his first surgical job in South Dakota and is now at Fountain Point Medical Community in Norfolk.
In his exam room, decorated with framed photos of race horses, Reynolds examines patients with a wide variety of conditions. This can include anything from problematic gallbladders and hernias to bowel problems and colon cancer.
In contrast to other surgical specialties, such as cardiothoracic or orthopedic, general surgery covers a range of the human body and a spectrum of medical conditions. This broad base allows him to tend to a variety of needs in a small-town setting.
“Being a general surgeon, we’re kind of trained to do a lot of things instead of one specific thing,” Reynolds said. “That’s what a town like Norfolk needs.”
In addition to the enjoyment from helping in the operating room, one of Reynolds’ favorite parts of the job is interacting with patients, especially making them laugh.
“I like talking with people and putting them at ease with their issues and health problems,” Reynolds said. “I enjoy turning a bothersome problem that someone has into something they can laugh about.”
In a typical week, Reynolds will clock in about 70 hours. His day starts at 5:30 a.m. making rounds on patients in the hospital and spending half a day in surgery. The remainder he spends at the clinic, consulting with patients.
Twice a week, Reynolds travels to West Point and Ainsworth as part of outreach clinics.
Managing his packed schedule takes help from his family, too, as he tries to balance time at work and at home.
“You just do your best,” Reynolds said. “When you’re at home, you try to have things planned to do with the family. Fortunately, my family is understanding, and we’ve adjusted to it very well.”