The Art of Neurosurgery

While neurosurgeon Dr. William Scott has three dogs, it is no secret that Stella is his favorite.

West Tennessee Neuroscience and Spine Center neurosurgeon painting a bright picture for patients

When an artist starts a new project, he often has no idea of where it will go or what the final product will be. For West Tennessee's newest neurosurgeon, William Scott, MD, that is a great analogy of his life. While his passion for art sent him to art school originally, he wasn't satisfied with the product and continued to work on his masterpiece. Today, his studio is an operating room and clinic as he brings his talents to patients at West Tennessee Neuroscience and Spine Center.

Life in a military family means lots of moving around and while he ultimately ended up in Baltimore, Maryland, Scott has West Tennessee ties; his father and grandmother grew up in Ripley. With a father who made a career out of the military and a mom who was an educator, Scott had no pressure in terms of which dream he followed. His initial aspirations of painting and music led him to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

Though not many can say art led them into medicine, Scott can. While in art school and playing in a band, Scott got interested in volunteering as an EMT. "Several friends were career or volunteer firemen and paramedics," said Scott. "I started as a volunteer EMT with the fire department and ultimately was hired. That led to my being trained as a paramedic then working in emergency departments. Eventually, I was a nurse's aide in ERs in Baltimore and DC, who happened to have a degree in painting and was a traveling musician."

Scott's passion shifted from art to medicine and he began preparing for medical school by taking classes at University of Maryland while continuing to work. "In Baltimore, trauma surgery is a big thing," said Scott. "Being in the emergency department, I got inundated in it and wanted to pursue that after medical school."

For his residency, Scott's criteria included a high acuity for trauma and a warmer climate. That led him to the University of South Alabama in Mobile. "It was a good Southern town and the general surgery program's reputation for trauma training was exceptional," he said. "While in my residency, I was exposed to neurosurgery and realized it was my calling. It was a precious responsibility that felt right to me and while others were running away from it, I was running toward it as fast as I could."

At the end of his general surgery residency, Scott was married and he and his wife Ambre were expecting their first child. The family moved to Dallas for Scott to begin his training in neurosurgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. During his seven years of training, he discovered he loved treating children and completed a one year fellowship in pediatric neurosurgery.

Scott then took the position of Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of South Alabama. On the clinical side, he practiced pediatric neurosurgery, complex adult spine surgery and was the main oncology surgeon for brain and spine. At the end of his three-year contract, Scott felt the need to move on and began to interview across the country. His search included a stop in Jackson at West Tennessee Neuroscience and Spine.

"I got a very familial feeling with the folks I met and the department. I found myself comparing all the other places to this one and felt this was the best fit for me and my family," said Scott. "We moved here over the summer and I started seeing patients in August as well as taking call. My first patient was a complicated spinal fusion case and the patient was paralyzed in both legs. After performing a major cancer operation on him, he walked out of the hospital three days later. It was confirmation that this was going to be a good place to be."

One of Scott's goals is to make sure the people of West Tennessee know that they don't have to go outside of the area for "Big City Medicine."

"This medical community offers so much for a town this size," he said. "The Kirkland Cancer Center has some amazing physicians and what I can bring to the table can be a nice adjunct to the care available. I want to bring good brain and spine care here and hope to build up our oncology and complex spine care. Ultimately I hope we will one day have the infrastructure to offer basic pediatric neuro care here as well."

While he is busy building a practice in West Tennessee, Scott has not strayed from his original love of art. He continues to draw and hopes to find studio space so he can resume painting. He also is still a musician at heart, so playing music is another source of enjoyment and he has several guitars at home.

One unique hobby is pinball. Scott has a rotating collection of pinball machines, some which are over 20 years old. "I enjoy repairing them as well as playing them," he said. "Right now, I have two in the house and two standing arcades. There is quite a pinball community out there with a lot of selling, trading and tournaments all over the world."

With nine-year old son David at home, family time is also one of Scott's favorite past times. "We like hanging out in the backyard with our dogs Stella, Andy and Tilly," he said. "In Mobile, we had a boat that we took out into the Bay to fish or down to Gulf Shores. We sold our boat when we moved here but I am hoping to take my son crappie fishing like I did when I was little."


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