Before coming to Utah, Dr. John Mitchell spent two years as a physician and surgeon with the joint special operations command (JSOC) of the Army. He deployed with the operators and provided trauma and medical care on missions around the world.
The experience was life-changing for Dr. Mitchell and prepared him well for the intensity of cardiothoracic surgery. Eventually, after stops in Kentucky and Hawaii, Dr. Mitchell made his way to Utah to lead the heart program at Utah Valley Hospital. He and his fellow program doctors have built it into a Top 50 heart program (out of 1,100 nationwide), according to Truven Health Analytics.
Doctor dreams “It’s difficult to pinpoint when I decided on medicine as a career, but I remember dissecting a cat in biology class in high school. That’s when I became fascinated with the chest.”
Beehive building “I was familiar with Intermountain through a surgical society, and I knew the work the organization was doing. I put my name out there and was contacted by Intermountain. Utah Valley, in particular, was attractive. I was interested in building a community-based heart program. I believe we’ve done that. I admire the mission of Intermountain Healthcare. I also truly admire Utah Valley Hospital and the nursing staff, my surgical colleagues and the other professionals bringing a high level of care to Utah Valley Hospital. We have a gold mine here — and it’s our hospital.”
Working together “Cardiothoracic surgery is a tertiary level of care. We work closely with cardiologists, medical oncologists and pulmonologists. However, we also have a very high regard for primary care doctors. Our patients really come from them. Primary care is the most important base of medical treatment. We’re bottom feeders. We’re reliant on them to recognize issues and take care of the patient. The level of primary care in Utah Valley is excellent.”
Physical future “Right now, heart valve technologies are expanding dramatically. Improved materials are making them last longer and require fewer blood thinners. There are also anti-cholesterol therapies and other new medications that may put us out of business.”
Doctor dos “You have to be a good doctor. That’s priority No. 1. But your second job is to be a good human being. You have to be able to take care of the patient and the family.”