I have the best job in the world and try not to take a single day for granted.
I’ve been married to my lovely wife Shelby since 2014 and we have a little boy, Charlie, who is almost 2. Charlie is a character and I’d like to think that his love of trucks, planes, and pizza matches my dedication to BBQ and pediatric orthopedics.
I use respect as a guiding principle for much of my personal and professional life. Everyone deserves it and too often we forget to give it. I want every patient and parent to feel heard, to voice their concerns, and to feel as though our relationship is collaborative, not adversarial. Simply put, I try to treat every parent and child as I would like to be treated."
I was treating a teenage boy in a cast for a fairly simple wrist fracture. He was a personable kid and we would frequently joke back in forth at each of his appointments.
At one of his visits, I asked him what color he’d like for his next cast. He said, “hold on, let me check,” and proceeded to pull out his phone. I deadpanned, “what, you have to ask your girlfriend?” Watching how beet-red he turned while his Mom, Dad, and I burst out laughing was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time."
I’ve been known to fill up the break room refrigerator with a full brisket or a pork belly from time to time.
Aside from my passion for cooking BBQ, I also love any opportunity to be outdoors with my family, be it hiking at one of the state parks, looking for hidden swimming holes, or tailgating with the Ellingtons for a UT game
As a spine deformity surgeon, I have the privilege of markedly changing my patient’s appearance. I love reminding our scoliosis patients to take pictures of their backs before surgery and then to take the same pictures afterwards. Going over those pictures never fails to bring a smile to my face. I even had one family who taped “x’s” on the floor and took the same group picture before and after surgery to show how much taller the patient was after surgery. It’s fun to see him towering over his parents now. That’s one of my favorite pictures and I keep a copy in my office.
When one of my scoliosis patients with cerebral palsy gave me a t-shirt officially adopting me as a member of her “team.” The same family also brought my little boy, Charlie, a stuffed bear in a UT football jersey that he carries with him everywhere. It was such a simple gesture, but it made me feel like part of their family and it reminded me how much trust our patient’s parents place in our hands. I can only imagine what it’s like to turn your baby over to someone at an operating room door, but having the family recognize how deeply we all care reminded me why I do what I do.
I have an unhealthy obsession with Bruce Springsteen and true crime podcasts. I’ll eat anything at least once and I learned to speak Spanish in the kitchen of an Outback Steakhouse, and like a good Jersey boy, I know the one thing Austin is missing is good bagels!
My subspecialty interests include idiopathic, congenital, and neuromuscular spinal disorders and anomalies. I also specialize in the management of neuromuscular disorders such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and muscular dystrophies and in treating skeletal dysplasias such as achondroplasia, and osteogenesis imperfecta.
"Ever since my surgery I’ve been happier than I’ve ever been before. November 21, 2016 truly changed my life. Before my surgery I was insecure & constantly thinking about my uneven back. I always felt like all eyes were on me, especially my back. I didn’t wear tight clothes, I wore jackets no matter the weather, & I hated wearing shorts because of how long my legs seemed because of my short torso. Thanks to you I feel like I can wear whatever I want, when I want.
I've learned to love & embrace my new height. I continue to walk with my head held high (thanks to my great posture) and I have the most confidence I’ve ever seen in myself. You also inspired me EVEN MORE to become one of the best orthopedic doctors I can be. I want to give young girls & boys the confidence you gave me. I want them to feel how happy I was after the procedure. I want them to realize that it gets better. Most importantly I want them to remember that we’re bent, not broken. Thank you again Dr. Kaufman. I am forever grateful for you & your amazing team."