Thomas McCormack, Truman Medical Centers
Sometimes, validation that your work makes a real difference is as close as your mailbox. For Thomas McCormack, an orthopedic surgeon based at Truman Medical-Center Lakewood, one example of that came with a letter that included a photo of senior citizens who had just met while waiting for their turns on a zip-line in Branson. Their small talk turned to knee-replacement surgery and the doctor who had done such a great job—and they quickly realized that McCormack had done each of their total knee replacements.
Not surprising; he’s performed hundreds of those and other surgeries. He specializes in gender-specific knee replacements, often for Baby Boomers. Given that there are 76.4 million of them in a prime joint-replacement age group, his long-term business prospects seem quite good.
This Kansas City native, raised with nine siblings, can tell you a thing or two about dental health, as well. In between two stints at Mizzou, he spent four years at UMKC’s School of Dentistry, where he earned his degree as a doctor of dental surgery. Sandwiched around that, he made dean’s list for three years while earning his bachelor’s in biochemistry at MU, then went back to Columbia after dental school, graduating cum laude from the medical program.
What brought him to orthopedics after positioning himself for a career in dental surgery? “Selfishly, I love to work with people who are injured or hurting, not necessarily sick,” McCormack says. “It is very satisfying to help my patients through their injuries and disability. It is rewarding to help them to return to their normal activities and lifestyle, and to be a part of these successful outcomes.”
In the two decades since he started his professional practice, he says advances in the palliative side have been the most impressive changes in his field. “Pain control—analgesia, combined with mini-invasive techniques,” he said, “make for quick recoveries, less pain, and happy patients.”
His work, including a stretch of more than five years with a zero percent post-operative infection rate, is credited with helping TMC-Lakewood become the region’s first hospital to earn the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for hip and knee replacement programs.