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Surgeon returns to UHS after stint as a gentleman farmer

Several years ago, UHS general and colorectal surgeon Jeffrey Wiseman, MD, thought it was time to take a hiatus from the world of medicine. So what did he do instead? Milk cows.

“It’s hard to explain,” he says. “We started with beef cattle then added a few dairy cows. We got into the business of selling milk.”

As he expected, life on the farm was every bit as challenging and work-intensive as having a medical practice — in fact, it took up a great deal of time.

“Cows require constant attention,” he says. “You have to milk twice a day, every day, whether it’s Christmas or your birthday or whatever. Actually, it’s a lot more time-consuming than being a doctor.”

General and colorectal surgeon Jeffrey Wiseman, MD, consults with a patient.

And while Dr. Wiseman’s time away from medicine was absorbing and fulfilling, in its own way, he decided that the life of a dairyman wasn’t to be his full-time, permanent profession. When UHS asked him to come back to resume his surgical practice, he said yes. “You miss the relationship you have with people,” he says. “It’s nice to reestablish that.”


And of course, his return is good for patients facing troubling conditions of the lower gastrointestinal tract. While people generally find it embarrassing to speak about problems of the colon, rectum or anus, Dr. Wiseman urges patients to get evaluated as soon as possible to prevent complications down the line. His treatment philosophy reflects his priority on caring for the whole patient, not just the disorder.

“We [doctors] can have tunnel vision,” he says. “You shouldn’t just treat the patient’s disease, you need to take care of the person first. Doctors need to use empathy — which is woefully lacking in modern medicine — and listen more, and more carefully.”

In his typically blunt style, Dr. Wiseman continues: “If their butt is hurting, I can treat that condition, but by paying careful attention, I can see that something else is going on in their life and addressing that will actually make them feel better.”

Dr. Wiseman is also committed to following up with patients after surgery. Such office visits can be ongoing, as may be the case for someone with pre-cancerous cells, or just once or twice post-operatively. “If someone feels they need more visits, though, I’ll do it,” offers Dr. Wiseman. “After all, they’ve made a time commitment to drive over to see me, so I have a responsibility to help them feel better. In the end, it all speaks to taking care of that individual.”

“As a surgeon you like quick results,” says Dr. Wiseman, “But it’s rewarding when someone comes in and is grateful for the care you’ve given them. Cows can’t say thank you.”


See Dr. Wiseman at UHS Surgery at Wilson Square in Johnson City. Call 763-8100 for an appointment.