Dr. John Schultz is a surgeon at Mountain Surgical Associates in Vail
VAIL — Dr. John Schultz joined the staff at Vail Valley Medical Center and Mountain Surgical Associates in 2013. He has been practicing medicine since 1995; he is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Schultz has special interests in abdominal surgery, endoscopy and minimally-invasive surgery.
When he’s not working, he enjoys skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking and playing ice hockey. This summer, Schultz participated on VVMC’s mountain bike team. Despite his busy schedule, he competed in all seven races and had a podium finish in the Davos Dash and Beaver Creek Blast.
Vail Daily: Tell us about what you do.
John Schultz: I’m a general surgeon, so I perform elective, emergency and trauma surgeries, including abdominal surgeries like appendectomies, gall bladder removal and hernia repairs; I care for trauma patients with injuries of the head and chest, broken ribs, collapsed lungs, injured spleens and livers; as well as surgeries for breast, colon and rectal cancers, endocrine malignancy and melanoma. I also perform upper and lower endoscopies and colonoscopies.
VD: How did pick your chosen field?
JS: When I started med school, I didn’t know which area of medicine I would pursue. But the first time I scrubbed into surgery, I said, “This is awesome; this is what I want to do!”
I enjoy the process of diagnosing a well-defined acute problem, fixing it and getting people better. An appendectomy, for instance, is extremely gratifying — the patient comes in feeling bad, I operate and the patient feels better right away. That’s what it’s about — making people feel better.
VD: Tell us about your background, education and experience.
JS: I received a bachelor’s of science degree in biology and psychology from Boston College and earned my medical degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. I did five years of general surgery residency at Baylor University Medical Center, then entered private practice in Corpus Christi, Texas. I’ve been in Colorado for 10 years now; prior to coming to VVMC, I was a general and trauma surgeon at Aspen Valley Medical Center for nine years.
While I received my education and training in large metro areas, the last 10 years working in a rural mountain setting have allowed me to become very in-tune to the patient population, their lifestyle and the concept of keeping people healthy so they can do what they love to do.
My colleagues and I at Mountain Surgical Associates try to minimize down-time for patients and focus on getting them through surgery and back to their lives. We are always trying to find innovative techniques to reduce patients’ recovery time. For hernia surgeries, for instance, we utilize a minimally invasive laparoscopic versus traditional anterior approach. This provides an excellent repair with the fastest recovery possible
VD: What philosophy do you follow in treating your patients?
JS: First and foremost, I consider and recognize that the patient is the boss. I’m here to give my patients medical advice. Hopefully they follow it, and usually they do. I tell them, “This is not the Midas muffler shop. If you come see me and I’m reluctant to recommend surgery, I’ll suggest other things you can do. If there is a better alternative, then surgery should be a secondary resort.
VD: What is the No. 1 thing people should do to be healthy?
JS: In our valley, we don’t have much of an issue trying to get people to maintain a healthy lifestyle. So my advice is to keep up with routine health maintenance — watch your cholesterol and follow screening guidelines (annual mammograms beginning at age 40, colonoscopies beginning at age 50, annual wellness visits).
In addition, maintain a balanced lifestyle. My job is very time intensive and laborious, but I set time aside to snowboard, ski and mountain bike. It’s important to dedicate time for yourself to keep a healthy lifestyle.
VD: What are you excited about in the world of medicine right now?
JS: Vail Valley Medical Center has an outstanding trauma/critical care program, which will be enhanced by the hospital’s Master Facility Plan and the new cardiac catheterization lab. I’m often amazed at the level of care patients get for the size of this hospital. To have a cancer center like Shaw in our small valley is outstanding; it’s rare you see something like Shaw in a town this size. It’s exciting to be a part of it.
Mountain Surgical Associates can be reached at 970-479-5036.
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