By Rebecca Wright, Knoxville News Sentinel
Dr. Michael Antiporda is making sure that everyone in East Tennessee has access to the care they need. Antiporda has been at Premier Surgical Associates for two years bringing innovative technology and experience to the operating room, including two robotic surgery processes never before used in East Tennessee. With his expertise, he ensures that patients understand what to expect and feel comfortable before heading into the operating room.
When you reflect on your career so far, which achievement stands out most?
When I was a surgical resident, I spent a significant amount of my limited free time involved with clinical outcomes research. During my fourth year, I presented my research on outcomes of laparoscopic paraesophageal hernia repair as a podium presentation at a national conference, and the paper was accepted for publication in a reputable surgical journal. This accomplishment not only helped set in motion my career in a subspecialty that I am passionate about but was also a validation of years of study and toil for which I was finally starting to see fruition.
What is the greatest professional obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Finding the perfect job and role to fit my specialized training, expertise, and academic interest was the most difficult obstacle for me thus far. A surgical practice with a high volume of foregut cases is a rarity, typically only enjoyed by senior attendings at academic institutions. I think a combination of hard work and training, luck and trust in God’s plan allowed me to jump on the opportunity when it came knocking. I am extremely fortunate to have a practice with excellent partners that encourage my particular surgical focus and work at a hospital with a supportive administration and staff.
What will you focus on in 2022?
In 2022, and I think every year, I will continue to focus on work-life balance. I have a beautiful wife who I love very much, and we have a lively baby boy who is the center of our world. I couldn’t be successful without the support my wife gives me, and I want to continue to give her that support back and be as present every day with my family as I am with any patient in my operating room.
What is your biggest professional goal?
My biggest professional goal is to expand access to the highest quality advanced/minimally invasive gastrointestinal surgical care in this region.
What mistake did you learn the most from?
One of the biggest drawbacks to contemporary surgical training is that little is taught about the business of medicine. The very first job I took out of surgical training was to join a solo surgeon who I respected greatly, but if I had been more knowledgeable about what makes a surgical practice successful, I might have reconsidered signing up for that.
What motivates you?
Laughter from my wife, smiles from my son, and hugs and gratitude from happy patients.
What is the most overrated piece of business advice you’ve heard?
“It’s not personal, Sonny, it’s strictly business.”
“The Godfather” is one of my favorite movies of all time and has tons of great adages, but I think in my line of work, one of the characteristics that sets great surgeons apart from good surgeons is that they sincerely care about their patients. I was fortunate to have some world-renowned surgeons as my mentors when I was a trainee, but they were all also the most personable people with wonderful bedside manner, not just technical wizards in an operating room.
What trait do you want most in a co-worker?
What about Knoxville would you like to improve?
I think we need to get the word out about how wonderful a place Knoxville is to live in and raise a child in. I grew up in Ohio and did my surgical training in Florida and Oregon, and would never have guessed I would be growing roots in East Tennessee if you asked me just a few years ago.
Who in Knoxville is underappreciated?
Easy: our wives/husbands/spouses/partners! Nobody who is successful could do it without the support from those who believed in them before they achieved that success. I met my wife when I was a surgical intern and she was a med/surgery RN. She has been with me throughout my evolution as a surgeon and has always had my back. She’s always been there to pop champagne and celebrate when I would achieve a milestone, but also always there to be my crying shoulder if it was a dark day that I had to give bad news to a patient. She’s my everything.
Family: Rachel Antiporda, wife; Michael Jr., son.
Years worked at current company: 2
Degrees and certifications: Bachelor of Science in biology, Georgetown University; Doctor of Medicine, Ohio State University; General Surgery Residency, Mayo Clinic Jacksonville; Fellowship in Advanced Gastrointestinal and Minimally Invasive Surgery, Providence Portland Medical Center; Board Certification in General Surgery, American Board of Surgery
This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
— Becca Wright