From one day to the next, Dr. Craig S. Cook doesn’t know what his work will look like. As a general surgeon and quarterback of the trauma team at Utah Valley Hospital, he operates on all types of patients with various maladies.
And he’s good. Really good. Which is why he’s our only repeat honoree from last year’s Utah Valley Magazine Top Doctors list.
Doctor dreams “I love the variety of general surgery. I treat very young patients and very old patients. I work with very sick patients and not-so-sick patients. General surgery is one of the few specialties that still has a pretty good general look at most parts of the body. I do a lot of appendix removal and gall bladders. I also do a lot of work with trauma patients.”
Traumatized “The general surgeon leads the trauma team and is the one who will direct the other specialists. There’s a bit of adrenaline that comes with trauma. It’s a challenge to have a patient come in who has had a bad accident. You don’t know how they might be injured. You have to be able to prioritize the injuries. To help them in that time of great need is one of the great parts of my job.”
Short-term relationships “I have wonderful patients who will come in for their last follow-up appointment with me and say, ‘Thanks so much for your help. I hope to never see you again.’ We laugh about it, but it’s really true. I have great respect for primary care physicians and internal medicine doctors who work through chronic issues with patients for years and have small, incremental improvements. I like to fix things and move on.”
On-call, all the time “General surgery is a horrible lifestyle. You can be called in at all hours, and it’s hard to have any sense of normalcy in life. I deal with it by managing expectations and having a wonderful, independent wife — Tyra — who takes care of everything in our lives except my work. She’s truly remarkable.”
Medical misconceptions “General surgery is the worst name ever. It’s a specialty. General surgery is a specialty of the abdomen and trauma care.”
The local climate “We have amazing healthcare providers — doctors, nurses, technicians, therapists — across the board here in Utah Valley. The people are what make the difference in healthcare, and we have a unique healthcare system here. It’s rarely adversarial, and we use a team approach in most cases. I’m grateful to work in that sort of environment, and I hope the community appreciates that.”