The memories flood back as I think of my time at University of Utah and how it prepared me for my career and has provided for lifelong friendships.
I grew up in the Far East as the son of missionary parents and had a lifelong goal to serve in medicine. I was exposed to surgery as a young boy and knew that was my calling. I eventually ended up in Southern Illinois University and was very fortunate to have matched at Utah. At that time there seemed to be a pipeline from that small school to Utah as Bill Faught had successfully matriculated at Utah and was a chief as I came in. James Foxworthy, a lifelong friend I met in college was also at Utah and showed me the way.
My first kiddo of five came shortly after I arrived at Utah and resulted in the Winslow paternal plan as many of you know it. Jim McGreevy did not take too kindly to me asking for a few days off for the birth of my daughter Elli. Ok, I got Sunday off to enjoy my firstborn. Man, how times have changed. Two more kids, Heidi and Alicia, were born there as well. Maybe that’s why I was known as "Papa" among many of my fellow residents. A huge shout out to my wife Polly as she has been the rock in our family and has largely raised my beautiful family. And of course I love her for putting up with all my tomfoolery over the years.
Through the long hours with staff and friends such as Dirk Noyes, Brent Christensen, Mark Stephens, Merril Dayton, and Jeff Saffle to name just a few, they somehow got this kid through six long years of training. I should have never opened my big mouth as I was akin to do and inform Dr. Saffle that burn surgery wasn’t too technically challenging because after that, I’m not sure where that Pitkin was going to go. I even had a year in Ed Nelson and Jane Shelby’s lab which provided for a great respite and to come up for air before the difficult chief years.
Now, I am a community surgeon in Great Falls Montana where I have practiced for the last 26 years. I enjoy a broad scope of practice and am fully vested in the acute care service. I have had lots of fun recently on the robot and have applied it to a broad portion of what I do. It has been a fun thing to add in the back half of my career.
Life has been busy but somehow I have found the time to do what I really enjoy doing. I have had countless trips to the mountains, backpacking, camping, and floating the rivers of Montana. I have traveled the world experiencing numerous adventures like scuba diving, trekking to name a few. These have been some of my greatest joys. I have also had the opportunity to serve those less fortunate in places like Burma, Ecuador, India, and Philippines to name a few. It has been a great run and I have had a busy practice doing what we do, but my biggest joy is my family. Elli is in sales in Great Falls. Heidi is a circulating RN. Alicia is an educator. Will is a band teacher and his wife, Morgan, is an OB nurse. Claire is the caboose just starting the 8th grade and she is a talented artist. I also have a granddaughter Violet who is 5 and she has taken over some of the leadership responsibilities from Papa. It seems strange to think that I am near the end of my career and looking forward to the next season within the next five years. I am eternally grateful for the nurturing presence of my friends made at at Utah and all the efforts put forth training this crazy kid from Taiwan. Ya did good. Please come look us up if you end up in the wild country of Northern Montana.