Glenn Taylor, an Orthopedic Surgeon based in Connecticut, has been recognised as America's Best Doctor by yhe American Health Council. Here he talks to us about his path to success and his time at St George's.

Glenn Taylor 2

 

You’ve been recognised as ‘America’s Best Doctor’ by the American Health Council. How does it feel to be recognised on such a scale?

Full disclosure here, the APC names others "Best Doctor" throughout the year. It's always gratifying to be recognized.

Can you tell us a bit about your current role and how you got in to it?

I am an orthopedic surgeon practicing in Connecticut for the last 37 years. I specialize in spinal surgery and spine care within a small multi-specialty group comprised of orthopedists, neurosurgeons and physiatrists. We founded our practice on the concept of providing comprehensive, multidisciplinary spinal care in a coordinated setting. When I finished my house jobs in England, I had every intention of becoming a pulmonary specialist! 

You trained at St George’s and now practice in the US. What prompted you to move abroad?

I was born here in the US to ex pat British parents and was schooled both in America and England. I chose to return to the US to be close to my immediate family with the idea of heading to sunny California. Never happened. I was fortunate to be accepted into Yale's orthopedic surgery residency program after completing a year as a general surgery resident and here I remain.

What is the key to your success?

Keep current and excited to learn and teach, stay disciplined and maintain your professional integrity, analyze both your successes and your failures honestly, communicate openly with patients and their families, hone and apply your basic history taking and physical exam skills - your best and most reliable tool in this complex world and remember that on occasion, you will be wrong!

How did your experiences at St George’s help shape your career?

My training at St George's was terrific, the best of times. It was as if the hospital and all within existed for us the students. We had excellent teaching. We were taught to respect our patients and to understand the practice of medicine as a privilege and a responsibility. Perhaps surprising to some, we were progressive in our diversity even back then. Truth is the women in my years were the best students. We enjoyed a camaraderie and helped one another on every level. St George's not only trained me to become a doctor, but also imbued me with a love and reverence for medicine and the profession.

Is there a piece of advice that you have received which you have found particularly valuable in your career?

A piece of advice that I always follow; When a patient or family member seeks my opinion about a difficult clinical decision such as when to cease treatment of a terminally ill patient, or whether or not to proceed with a surgical procedure, they will often ask, " What you would do?" Yes, I discuss pros and cons and relate facts and outcome information, but the best answer, and that most valued and appreciated, is what my decision would be if my own loved one was the patient. 

Who has inspired you in your career?

The making of a doctor is all about mentoring. As young medical students, we look up to and admire our seniors. Later, we follow and emulate our house officers, registrars and consultants. A good doctor is one who motivates and inspires those he or she teaches. I had many mentors at St George's including Profs Antony Dornhorst and Tom Pilkington, and Dr. Brian Robinson. All are long gone now. In particular, I'm indebted to Dr. John Millard. I was his house officer at St James Hospital in Balham (also gone). He was a brilliant clinician, a dedicated teacher and made the experience great fun. I was able to chat on line with him about two years ago and he was as bright and full of energy as ever. Even in his eighties, he sounded ready to make ward rounds. As a medical student, each discipline had me thinking that particular field was my calling. After my dermatology rotation, I knew I wanted to be a dermatologist. Having delivered babies, ob-gyn was for me. Once shown how to properly listen to the heart by Aubrey Leatham with his self- designed stethoscope, I was convinced cardiology was to be my specialty. And so it went. Ironically, the exception was orthopedics which didn't pique my interest at all until years later at Yale, where my senior resident (again, a mentor) convinced me orthopedics was the greatest, and I was smitten.

What are your favourite memories from St George’s?

Teaching rounds on the veranda of the old Hyde Park Corner medical school bar overlooking people below heading off to Knightsbridge, racing from HPC to Tooting and back again in various old bangers, watching Matron greet the great surgeon, Rodney Smith, as he came up the front steps of the hospital, staying up all night in the Casualty Department while waiting for the chance to suture a laceration, observing  Prof Donald Teare (famously, he carried out post mortems on Bruce Lee and Jimi Hendrix) perform autopsies in the bowels of the hospital - he wouldn't allow surgical face masks to be worn believing smells were as important as sights in the autopsy room, and, of course, two wonderful re -union dinners at the Lanesborough Hotel.

Are you still in touch with many of your peers or lecturers?

A few years back, I visited the "new" hospital in Tooting and wandered through the medical school. I was struck by how large and modern the place had become. Yet, what hadn't changed was the air of energy and the look of enthusiasm on the faces of the students. How lucky we are to be St. George's alumni.