We recently sat down with Thomas P. Rauth M.D., MPH, FACS, to gain insights into his practice, his team and his time with MEDNAX. Dr. Rauth is a board-certified pediatric surgeon with Nashville Pediatric Surgery, part of Pediatrix Medical Group. His professional interests include minimally invasive surgery and the surgical care of newborns.
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Why did you decide to pursue pediatric surgery?
As pediatric surgeons, we begin our training as general surgeons and rotate through time on the pediatric surgery service during residency. It was the culture in the operating rooms at the Children’s Hospital [Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt] that immediately resonated with me. Unlike other ORs I had been in, there was no question who the most important person in that room was at any given moment—and it had nothing to do with any of the adults. The surgeon, anesthesiologist and OR team were uniquely focused on the care of the child in a way that was both refreshing and compelling. I decided then to devote my career to the care of children.
What differentiates a pediatric surgery practice from adult surgical practice?
We have to meet the unique needs of the child (and parent). While parents may be comfortable visiting the pediatrician, for many, a visit to the pediatric surgeon may be terribly anxiety-provoking. We strive to connect with our patients, educate our expectant parents and ease the concerns of the family.
What prior knowledge do your patients or their primary care providers typically have of a pediatric surgery practice?
We wish our parents and referring physicians knew more about us. Specifically, we would love for them to know our scope of practice—from prenatal consultation to complex minimally invasive thoracic surgery. We would love for our families to know about our patient experience and how their experience with us might be different from our competitor.
In order to provide high-quality surgical care, what does your team do best?
We meet the needs of the child and family. As a new program and practice in the market, we knew that we couldn’t compete with the academic medical center from a facility or resource perspective. Instead, we differentiated ourselves by leading with service. Our team offers a personalized, family- and child-focused experience that sets us apart in the market. We have been recognized by Press Ganey Associates for leading the nation in patient experience scores.
What are the current hot topics in the industry?
Neonatal operative outcomes, appendicitis, patient experience, and enhanced surgical recovery (ERAS).
Can you tell me about the events that led you to join MEDNAX?
An opportunity arose in our market (Nashville) to start a new children’s hospital. In 2012, HCA Healthcare decided to partner with MEDNAX and open a children’s program at their flagship hospital, Centennial Medical Center. At the time, I was on faculty at Vanderbilt University and saw this as a once-in-a-career opportunity to build something from the ground up. I jumped at the opportunity and have been a MEDNAX employee since 2013.
Who in your life inspires you?
If I have learned anything from 2020, it is that we can find inspiration in everyone. At Nashville Pediatric Surgery, we are a small, high-functioning team. I have been inspired by each and every one of our team members this year. Our team has stepped up and met the pandemic with grace. They have supported our practice while both of our physicians were sidelined with COVID-19. They have developed creative ways to meet the needs of our patients during uncertain and challenging times. When asked to support MEDNAX, they did so without question while experiencing personal hardship themselves. I am proud to be a small part of our incredible team in Nashville.