Balancing the Yuck and the Yum

Dr. Ted Wright and his wife Saskia enjoy traveling with their five-year old twins, Oliver and Felix

Dr. Ted Wright joins WTH Cardiothoracic Surgery Center, looks to expand services

Ask Ted Wright, MD, what would lure him away from a major academic medical center to West Tennessee and he will tell you Yuck and Yum. While he may be finding the right balance to work and family here, he isn't the only one that will be benefitting from the move. As the newest cardiovascular surgeon to join West Tennessee Healthcare's Heart and Vascular program, patients will benefit from the additional treatment modalities he brings with him that will expand the services offered right here in Jackson.

Hailing from Ashbury Park, New Jersey which is on the Jersey Shore, Wright says according to his mother he declared he would be a doctor, and a surgeon no less, when she dropped him at the playground one day. When he went down the road, as he calls it, to Princeton for college, he took pre-med classes, applied to medical school and was accepted to University of Virginia Medical School.

While in medical school, Wright was inspired by several physicians who impacted not only him personally but also influenced the path he would choose to follow. "I was inspired by these physicians who were skillful, thoughtful and respected. That was something I wanted to emulate," he said. "They were educators and trainers of residents and patients. They were people who were looked up to. They were role models and people I identified with in school."

Scott Jones, MD, a surgeon at UVA inspired Wright to pursue surgery initially. "There is an immediacy to it," said Wright. "There is a defined problem that you can fix, and lives are improved immediately; that was important to me."

Wright's general surgery residency was completed in his home town at the hospital where his parents first met, Monmouth Medical Center. Another physician, Charles Sills who was a thoracic surgeon, inspired Wright to pursue cardiothoracic surgery. "I loved the anatomy of cardiothoracic surgery. There is a complex simplicity to it," he said. "You can't get around it, you can't stop in the middle, you have to follow it to the end. There is a sports aspect to it, the pre-game, the game and the post-game. You can reflect on what you have done, which I think is good."

After his residency, Wright headed to the University of Wisconsin for a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery followed by a cardiopulmonary transplant fellowship at the University of California in San Francisco. He was recruited by a cardiovascular surgery practice in Lexington, Kentucky and headed to the Bluegrass state. When the practice became a part of the University of Kentucky Medical Center, Wright had the opportunity to be a part of the residency training program in addition to his practice. One of the residents he had trained, Hetal Patel, MD, had joined a cardiothoracic practice in Jackson, Tenn. and Wright decided to take a look at the practice.

"Life is a series of yum and yucks," said Wright. "And you have to have find a balance of the two. As a husband and an older father of twin five-year-old boys, as well as a busy cardiothoracic surgeon, I knew I needed to find that balance. The opportunity in Jackson gave me that and so much more. Living in a community that is friendly and family oriented is a way to balance the yum and the yucks. What I found in Jackson was nice folks who were raising their families here, and a great tradition of heart surgery. I was also impressed by the number of physicians who came here out of training thinking that maybe this was just a springboard yet they are still here and so glad to be here."

Although Wright just joined the practice in early January, he has already brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the practice. "We had a great multi-disciplinary meeting with cardiology," he said, "and have identified some areas that we feel we can expand services, especially surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation and minimally invasive techniques. We will be able to provide cutting edge services that will mean patients aren't having to travel out of town to get them. We are well poised to serve this community very well and I am looking forward to doing it."


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