Hello Gregg, can you please tell us a bit about you?
I am an orthopedic surgeon and I practice in Crescent City, California. I have many years of experience and many loyal patients. I am affiliated with Sutter Coast Hospital. I did my medical training at Des Moines University in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. I did my residency at Loma Linda University and an internship at the Naval Medical Center at San Diego.
What are your focus areas and why?
In the course of my practice, I see a wide variety of people with orthopedic conditions and injuries. Some of my specialties include sports injuries and arthritis. I can work with patients of any age. I also do joint replacements and other procedures. These focus areas help patients achieve better mobility, which is key to a fulfilling life. Repairing damage to people’s bones and joints gives them a better foundation for their daily lives.
How would you describe your journey in a few words?
I would describe my journey as a constant learning process. I am always learning new things and finding novel ways to help my patients live a pain-free life. I hope that I have made a positive impact on my patients’ lives. In my personal life, I would define my journey as a search for peace and fulfillment. I find my work very satisfying.
Where do you think it’s making an impact?
I get a great deal of satisfaction by helping my patients regain their lost mobility. Whether it is a teenager with a sports injury or an elderly person with arthritis who needs a joint replacement, mobility is highly important. I often get cards and letters from patients who are grateful for their surgery or procedure. These personal notes mean a lot to me. I hope that I can continue to meet patients’ needs far into the future.
What made you want to pursue a Surgeon career?
When I was a teenager, I had many sports injuries stemming from football. Since I was injured so frequently, I had a good working relationship with my family’s orthopedic surgeon. I became fascinated by the discipline and did a great deal of research into the workings of the bones and joints. As an undergraduate, my focus was on pre-med and I then attended medical school in an osteopathic specialty.
What do you find most rewarding about being one?
It’s amazing to be able to see a patient walk into my office after their recovery period. Sometimes not all of their pain can be corrected through surgery, but I pride myself on helping my patients reach the full extent of their mobility. I am also constantly improving my skills by attending training classes and conferences. I believe that everyone is a work in progress, even myself. It is a privilege to help my patients live healthier lives.
According to a Surgeon, what is the key to a long, healthy life?
As an orthopedist, I am constantly seeing joint damage that comes from arthritis. It is easier to keep arthritis and other joint pain under control when you maintain a healthy weight. A healthy weight also helps to reduce the chances of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and strokes. I would recommend that all of my patients try to achieve a healthy BMI. When their orthopedic issues are treated, they find that they are better able to move around and burn calories.
I also believe that people need to find time in their busy schedules to relax. I’m not very good about taking time for myself, so this is a goal I also need to meet. Burnout isn’t good for anyone.
If you could turn the time, what would you love to change in regards to your career?
I am highly satisfied with how my career has turned out. I truly enjoy working with my patients, and I feel like every time I do surgery or a procedure, I am adding to my patients’ quality of life. The one thing I would change about my career is that I would have been a better student as an undergraduate. I spent too much time-wasting time with my friends and I didn’t apply myself to my schoolwork as much as I should have. I nearly didn’t get into medical school. In medical school, I excelled because I had learned how to push myself to succeed.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
I am very excited about the potential for robotic surgery. I haven’t had the chance to work with the Da Vinci robot myself, but I am open to the possibilities. Robotic surgery means that the incision can be very small, and that the surgeon can manipulate tools that are much smaller than regular tools. This means a less invasive procedure which is more precise. Patients also have significantly shorter recovery times with robotic surgery. I don’t think that AI and robots will ever replace the expertise of a human surgeon, but I am willing to use new tools in my practice.
The last word or final thoughts?
When people think of Dr. Gregg Shellack, I want them to think of an expert surgeon who truly cares for the welfare of his patients. My reputation as a surgeon depends on the success and happiness of my patients.