In addition to serving as President and Chief Executive Officer, you're a pediatric urologist. Why is it important for you to still see your patients?
I think I'm the only CEO to do clinical work in a pediatric institution. It's something that I love and was trained to do. It gives me great satisfaction being with families. It also allows me to see what's going on in the institution in an intimate way. In fact, one of the nurses recently said to me that having me in the operating room is such an uplifting thing for the staff because they can talk to me. Lastly, it gives me a chance to philanthropically give back to the organization, so I am able to donate the funds that come from my practice to Children's.
Describe the satisfaction you feel when you make a child better.
Well, you have to understand that essentially, at least for me, children are a gift and that gift is not only influenced by the genetics or how they were born, but what happens to them as they go through life. So, what's really amazing is that these kids are so courageous, and their families are also courageous, despite what many of us would consider insurmountable odds. So, when you deal with families and kids who basically show you what courage is on a daily basis, you just can't help but be inspired. Interacting with families and children are the best times. It's never been a job for me. It's always been a wonderful opportunity.
What made you want to become a doctor—and specifically a urologist?
I've always imagined myself in that role and was the first in my family to become a doctor. Being a pediatric urologist allows me to combine the care of children and their families and the challenges of surgical precision.
If you hadn't become a doctor, what would you be?
I would have probably gone into engineering or science. Those were my scholarly interests in school.
Who do you admire most?
I really admire those people who made their way through life from modest beginnings and who always tried to stay centered on doing good for others rather than just focusing on doing well financially. We have many examples of these people at Children's and they play an important part of why we are such a good place to work and to come for care.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your job?
It's the complexity of care for children, the increasing need for support and infrastructure for our great nurses and doctors, and the difficulties of planning for the future with finite resources and infinite needs.
What's does the future of Children's look like?
Well, the best news would be if we could put ourselves out of business, but I don't see it happening because we never seem to quite catch up with the need. The good news is that we are saving smaller and more fragile patients everyday. I think the job going forward has to be to maintain the excellence that we've had for many years in research, education and clinical care, and at the same time to really enhance our community health programs and our communication with our community.
From where does your family originate?
My mother came to the United States from Russia in 1900, and she was one of 11 children. So I had many cousins, aunts and uncles, and grew up in a very traditional family.
Are there any others in your family who have followed in your footsteps?
I'm the only physician in the family, except for my wife who is a retired MD.
How long have you been married?
Forty years now.
Do you have any other brothers and sisters?
Yes. I'm one of four, plus I have two stepbrothers, because my mom died after I was born. So the total family is six.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
My hobbies, which were started relatively recently because I didn't have much time in my younger years, are fly-fishing, scuba diving and sailing.
What was the last book you read?
The Girls. It's about two children who were conjoined twins growing up in Southern Canada and Northern Michigan. It was written from the perspective of the girls themselves and was really a good book.
What's your favorite band or artist?
I enjoy all kinds of music, classical, folk and a bit of country rock.
Proudest personal achievement?
My marriage and children.