Dr. Thomas Beck is our Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon and Director for the Richland Hospital Sports Medicine program. He joined the Richland Hospital and Richland Medical Center teams in 2001. Since then, he has helped patients from all over Southwest Wisconsin stay close to home for procedures that once took them to large cities.
I asked Dr. Beck what led him to a career in orthopaedic medicine. He said his college football days were an influence.
Dr. Beck was a member of the University of Florida Gators football team. During a Gator practice, a teammate delivered a hit that took Beck out of commission. The blow resulted in a hematoma to Beck’s spine that required surgery and rehab with the Gator Sports Medicine team.
“I was with the Sports Medicine team for about 3 months rehabbing,” Dr. Beck recollected. “While most of us dreamed of playing professional football, this experience opened my eyes to an alternative, the world of sports medicine. In retrospect, it was the sentinel event that led to a career so much more meaningful than I imagined.”
At the time, Beck was going to school for engineering. He later married and moved to Houston, Texas. Shortly after moving there, the country lapsed in an economic downturn. “I couldn’t find a job,” Beck said. “Eventually I was able to find a position as a boat mechanic to make ends meet, which is what I had done all through my high school and college days.” Knowing that the boat business was not his destiny, he began considering other career options.
“In Houston, I had a brother in law who was a cardiologist. We would frequently talk about the world of medicine. He introduced me to a friend who just so happened to be an Orthopaedic surgeon. He allowed me to job shadow him and that was it. I was inspired!” Dr. Beck said.
He knew he wanted a career in medicine. He took classes that he needed to prepare for medical school at the University of Houston, and then took the MCAT exam. He was accepted to Medical school, graduated from Baylor College of Medicine and completed internships in General Surgery and Residency in Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Texas – Houston.
“During residency there were opportunities to provide sports medicine coverage at high school and college events,” Dr. Beck said. “I thought it was awesome, I was getting paid to do something I loved.”
Dr. Beck also remembers the famous mentors he had the opportunity to study under. “Learning from folks like, Dr. Walt Lowe and Dr. Gary Gartsman was an opportunity that very few students have,” Dr. Beck said. “Both are highly regarded in Orthopaedics.”
Dr. Walter Low is currently the Head Team Physician for the NFL Houston Texans, NBA Houston Rockets and NCAA University of Houston Cougars. Dr. Gary Gartsman is a renowned shoulder surgeon. He holds the title of Clinical Professor for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Houston Health Science Center. He is also the Fellowship Director of the Shoulder and Elbow Fellowship there.
Dr. Beck and his son, Dylan, had the opportunity to re-visit the University of Florida and Head Athletic Trainer, Chris Patrick. As a member of the Florida Gator Sports Medicine team since 1970, Patrick has worked with many players who ended up in the NFL including: Tim Tebow and Emmit Smith. He said he remembered Dr. Beck from his Gator football years. “I told him that he was a big reason for me being where I am today,” Dr. Beck said. “It was incredible to visit the Gator facilities.”