As a weight loss surgeon, food is important to Terry Simpson. His interest in food goes way beyond calories, though. A skeptic and scientist at heart, Terry’s interest in how food works in the body led him down a road of culinary discovery. He became devoted to teaching weight loss surgery patients to stop being afraid in the kitchen, and start developing a taste for healthy foods.
Asked what the most important part of weight loss surgery is, Dr. Terry Simpson will tell you, “Getting into the kitchen and cooking.”
Dr. Simpson is part of the movement of physicians who teach their patients to cook. It’s called Culinary Medicine. Terry Simpson’s patients are unique however, as they are patients who undergo weight loss surgery.
“Weight loss surgery doesn’t end when we leave the operating room. When patients start to cook, and begin experimenting, and stop going to restaurants, we know they have a better chance of success with surgery, and in health.”
His goal is to keep patients out of the operating room entirely by embracing bold flavors, prepared in new, healthy ways. “The greatest tools for good health aren’t found in a doctor’s bag, they are in the kitchen,” says Terry Simpson, MD. “I would prefer to help people before obesity becomes a debilitating factor in their lives. Weight loss surgery is something I believe in, but if we could help people before they got to that point, I’d be very happy with that.”
Terry Simpson, MD – Bariatric Surgery Pioneer
Dr. Simpson is considered a pioneer in the field of bariatric surgery. He began performing laparoscopic bariatric surgery in 1994. Dr. Simpson received the distinction of being the first proctor for lap-band surgery in Arizona, teaching other weight loss surgeons how to perform the surgery. Terry Simpson, MD received his undergrad degree and medical degree from the University of Chicago. His surgical residency was at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.
When Dr. Simpson is not in the operating room he enjoys travel with his family, mastering new culinary delicacies in the kitchen, and driving golf balls on courses across the U.S. His favorite times are spent in the kitchen with his 6 year old son, JJ, who has become a masterful chef and lover of good food at an early age.
“JJ and I make breakfast together every morning, usually before his mom wakes up. And I use this example to make a point to my weight loss patients: first, if a six year old can cook, so can you. And let’s be honest, if a busy surgeon can make the time to cook, you probably have time to do it as well.”
1. What was your best/favorite subject in school?
I loved all things biology but the non-science courses like Art History and Philosophy and Economics were especially interesting to me and have stayed with me. I have an academic mind, I love learning new things, and I also love to share new ideas with my son.
2. What was your first job?
I was a stock boy for Race Downtown Drug in Ketchikan, Alaska. It was a unique and amazing experience growing up in small town Alaska. I still consider Alaska home, even though I live with my family in Phoenix.
3. Where and how did you first get into the industry you currently work in?
I started my surgical career as a surgeon in the Indian Health Service. Obesity was a major issue even back then, so performing weight loss surgery was an obvious choice. When I went into private practice, there was no one doing advanced laparoscopic surgery at the time, and eventually I began doing more weight loss surgery. I was proud to become a proctor in Arizona for the Lap-Band, teaching other surgeons how to properly perform the surgery.
4. How have those jobs prepared you for what you do now?
My surgery experience has been amazing, and I’ve found that working in restaurants and kitchens, learning about food and how to cook, has brought it all together for me. I believe if you spend mindful time in the kitchen, you won’t end up needing to become my weight loss surgery patient. And if you do have to have weight loss surgery, you have to develop a new relationship with food after surgery.
5. Describe the best day of work you’ve ever had.
I’ll always remember the day that Daytime TV in Tampa asked me to become their go-to doctor for their television series. It turned out to be much more than a career opportunity. I met the executive producer of the show, and she eventually became my wife. And now we’re parents to a six year old.
6. How do you keep yourself motivated?
I’m always looking at new ways of communicating with patients, and in the past couple of years I’ve really turned to social media, webinars and online courses. Technology has been a great tool for keeping me connected.
7. What kind of business ideas excite you the most?
I get excited about the advances in technology that allow me to share information with patients, widely and often.
8. Have you ever tried any unorthodox techniques to attract attention to your business?
In the medical profession, we often rely on referrals, and that’s been a consistent method of maintaining attention and customer base, if you will. I am usually an early adopter of technology, and I think I was one of the first surgeons to really embrace Twitter and Facebook as a communication platform. While it’s common place now, at the time, it was pretty unorthodox.
9. What personal achievement are you most proud of?
Hands down, I’m most proud of my son. Being a father is the very best job I’ll ever have.
10. What wisdom you would have liked to share with yourself when you first started out?
What I discovered over the years is the best doctors build and maintain relationships with their patients. Good medicine is about good relationships. When you are able to truly connect with and help a patient, you’ll always love your job.
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