Dr. Raymond Georgen remembers what it was like to be a surgeon in training and the mentors who helped him along the way. That experience lit a decades-long spark in him to share his experience with others.
“One of the things that lights my pilot light is education and teaching,” he says. “I’ve been about that my entire career, and it just continues to grow as I get to the sunset of my career. You want to pay it forward.”
Dr. Georgen, a board-certified general surgeon with Surgical Associates of Neenah, has enjoyed a 32-year relationship with ThedaCare. Early on in his career, he helped build the Level II Trauma Center at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah. It would become the first center of that level north of Milwaukee.
Building the program involved recruiting top surgeons and creating a vibrant rehabilitation center. It also included raising money for ThedaStar, which Dr. Georgen says serves as an iconic symbol of how ThedaCare helps the community each day.
“It clearly points out that it’s not just about one person. It’s about everybody,” Dr. Georgen says of the efforts. “It’s been wildly successful and has impacted thousands and thousands of patients over three decades.”
Today, Dr. Georgen, co-leads the ThedaCare Bariatrics program. It was one of the first in the country to be named a center of excellence for metabolic surgery.
Called to Teach
Whether he’s educating high school students about the dangers of distracted driving, reaching out to the next generation of medical professionals, or working directly with surgeons in training, Dr. Georgen is passionate about teaching.
More than two decades ago, the ThedaCare Trauma Center launched P.A.R.T.Y. at the PAC, which was inspired by a program that started in Canada. It’s held at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center and teaches new drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the program is now called FOCUS, which stands for: Focus on driving, Others are affected, Clear distractions, Understand that substances impair judgement, and Safely reach your destination.
It’s a candid discussion about what happens when you make a bad decision, Dr. Georgen says. Throughout the years, many have shared their stories, including survivors, parents, and people who have spent time in jail for causing accidents.
Dr. Georgen, whose two daughters have both gone on to pursue medical careers, also works with high school and college students who are interested in the field. He recalls that when he was young, he liked the sciences and working with people but didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do until it came time for his surgical rotation in medical school.
Becoming a surgeon is a long, hard road, but it’s vital to reach out to students who have the skills and interest for following that path, Dr. Georgen says. “[It’s important] to provide the opportunities for them to see what it’s all about.”
Dr. Georgen also works directly with up-and-coming surgeons and serves as an examiner for the American Board of surgeons and a clinical professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Through a partnership with the general surgery program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, surgical residents rotate through ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah and spend time with Dr. Georgen’s surgical group learning what it takes to be a surgeon.
The Neenah hospital also has become a national surgical observation site. “We have surgeons from all over the country coming to Neenah, Wisconsin, to learn about how to do robotic surgery,” Dr. Georgen says.
Many of those who come to the Fox Cities to train decide to stay here, which is critical to helping northeast Wisconsin retain the medical experts needed to help keep our community healthy and thriving, Dr. Georgen says.
Into the Future
A major expansion underway at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah will lead to greater access to trauma care. The project includes an expanded emergency department. After completion, it will feature 20 exams rooms, including specialized rooms for trauma and behavioral health, with the latest technology, equipment and space to provide patients with the best care experience.
“It will help us take trauma care to the next level,” Dr. Georgen says.