Excerpt from an interview with Jay Talsania at OAA:
Q. How did you become interested in medicine?
A. When I was growing up I actually did NOT want to be a physician. My father was a General Surgeon in solo practice who worked seven days a week almost 365 days a year. He was an excellent doctor but unfortunately I did not get to spend a lot of time with him.
Because I enjoyed math and science, I decided to become a biomedical engineer and enrolled at Bucknell. It’s funny how things change. During the summer before my junior year of college, I worked in a research lab in Boston doing ventilator research. This involved dissections and fluid dynamics. I quickly found my love of anatomy far surpassed that of engineering. In addition, my father passed away that school year and then something clicked in my head to pursue medicine. I regret not spending time observing my father with patients and in the operating room.
Q. When did you decide to specialize in orthopaedics and Hand Surgery?
A. I decided during my first month of medical school when I met the Orthopaedic Surgery residents at Temple Hospital. They were some of the happiest, hard working residents and I liked how they put things back together. I felt it would be a natural progression from my mechanical engineering degree. In the midst of all the basic sciences and lectures on pharmacology, microbiology, and histology, Joe Thoder came and gave a one hour lecture on hand surgery. Every part of what he talked about excited me.
Across all the subspecialties in Orthopedics, Hand Surgery made the most sense to me. It dealt with small delicate and mechanical structures that required precision to fix. Hand Surgeons treated a variety of patients, young and old, that presented with discrete problems with multiple solutions (many non surgical) and almost immediate satisfaction with their results.
Q. What are common conditions you treat?
A. In Hand Surgery, we most commonly treat patients with Traumatic injuries (fractures from the fingertips to above the elbow, nerve, tendon and vessel lacerations, Arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid reconstruction, including joint replacements), Nerve compression (carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel), Tenodonitis (tennis elbow, trigger fingers, deQuervains), or Tumors.
Q. What do you like best about working with your patients?
A. I really enjoy sitting down and talking with my patients and trying to solve their problems that interfere with their function. I have a diverse practice from young children to the elderly. Although I see a lot of common problems, the patients are what make the thought process infinitely variable and stimulating. I have a hard time accepting electronic medical records and computers in the exam rooms as it takes away from actual dialogue.
Q. What do you like best about working for OAA?
A. I interviewed at many practices along the East Coast after finishing my Hand Fellowship at Jefferson. After the first day I met Dr. Keblish in 1997, I knew I wanted to come to OAA. I was impressed with the level of training and expertise the OAA docs had across all subspecialties and their interest in educating. Many orthopaedic practices give good care, however the OAA family make it a special place to come to everyday.
Q. Where are you from, originally, and how did you come to live in the Lehigh Valley?
A. I have not come from very far away. I was born in Philadelphia, studied at Bucknell in Lewisburg, Pa and went back to medical school at Temple where I stayed for my five year Orthopaedic Residency. After completing my Hand Fellowship at the Philadelphia Hand Center, I realized there was a need for a Fellowship Trained Orthopaedic Hand Surgeon in the Lehigh Valley. My wife Diana was from Doylestown, Pa and so we didn’t want to go too far away from our families.
Q. If you were not an orthopaedic surgeon, what would you be doing?
A. That is a good question. If I could dream, I would be involved in professional soccer on some level. If I was being realistic, I would be doing biomedical engineering working with prosthetics.
Q. How do you apply your experience as an orthopaedic surgeon and a physician to the rest of your life?
A. I come across the entire spectrum of humanity, not just in my office, but through my mission work in Guatemala over the last four years. I feel this has allowed me to keep things in perspective. I enjoy every day and can not sit still as I have many interests. I am passionate about hand surgery and feel extremely fortunate to use my skills learned over the years.
Q. Of what achievements are you especially proud?
A. Personally, I am most proud of my family and our work in Guatemala. Professionally, I am especially proud of my colleagues in the Hand Center. Before 1997, patients had to travel out of the area to see a fellowship trained Orthopaedic Hand Surgeon. In 2011, along with Dr. McDaid and Dr. Battista, we offer over 30 years of hand surgery experience and have one of the largest, most experienced Hand Therapy Centers outside of Philadelphia.