Board certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in trauma and reconstruction, Athens Orthopedic Clinic, chief of orthopedic surgery, Athens Regional Medical Center
Education: Stanford, B.A., Clinical Psychology, 1994; UGA, M.S., Foods and Nutrition, 1999; Medical College of Georgia, M.D., 2004; Residency, Medical College of Georgia, Orthopedic Surgery, 2009; Fellowship, St. Louis University, Orthopedic Trauma, 2010
Chip Ogburn was living sort of a dream life for himself in a Colorado ski resort.
He was in his early 20s, a recent Stanford graduate, working odd jobs and enjoying the view and amenities of the idyllic valley nicknamed Ski Town USA.
But something was missing.
“We had a really good friend who was just about to turn 40 and had saved up enough money to buy his first condo,” Ogburn recalled. “I remember thinking ‘I don’t want to be 40 years old and buying my very first condo.’ That was not what I wanted out of life.”
At the time, Ogburn was managing a health food store, which meshed nicely with a lifelong interest in fitness and nutrition. Feeling a pull toward higher education, he eventually discovered Dr. Rick Lewis’ lab within the FACS department of foods and nutrition, moved back to his native Georgia and completed the program in 1999.
After attending medical school and an orthopedic residency in Augusta, followed by a trauma fellowship in St. Louis, Ogburn and his wife Kjirsten moved back to Athens in 2010, where he now works as an orthopedic surgeon specializing in trauma and reconstruction with Athens Orthopedic Clinic, performing an average of 25 surgeries a week.
Tell us a little about some of the jobs you had in Colorado.
I worked every facet of the service industry. Waiting and busing tables, cook line – I can cook a mean crepe – tending bar, bar manager, painting, construction. I worked in a grocery store deli for probably a year. You name it, I’ve done it.
How would you describe your experience as a graduate student with Dr. Lewis?
More than anything he was just a great life mentor in terms of how to try and balance your activities. I think that’s what health and wellness is about mostly: not just the determination and the food you eat, but the balance you bring to your life. The years I spent with him were wonderful.
How did the grad school process prepare you for your career?
From an academic standpoint, pushing through the stress of thesis work and grant proposals is harder than doing anything else really in terms of studies and testing and all that. It’s a significant trial to put yourself through. Going through that academically prepares you to do anything you want to do … if you can push through a thesis in that amount of time, you can pretty much tackle anything.
How do you describe your job?
I mostly fix broken stuff as a trauma guy and take care of all kinds of urgent problems: lots of infections, lots of urgent fracture work, car wrecks, hip fractures, you name it.
Any misconceptions about the life of a trauma surgeon?
Most people think trauma (is) you just show up and whatever comes in the door you just kind of fly by the seat of your pants. The reality is I spend a significant amount of time preparing for all these cases we do and the forethought is what brings success to the actual surgery, not whether you’ve got good hands or the right tools or you’re good on the fly.
What is one of the highlights of your work?
You do have those handful of patients who are so grateful and gracious and it seems like the timing is just right (that) when you’re kind of getting beat down and you’re getting tired and you have the salt of the earth that’s not being too kind to you, that you’ll find that one person who says just the right thing to kind of brighten up your day and make you feel better. That helps.