Donald Mackenzie, MD, FRCSC, FACS
What led you to the practice of medicine?
Well, there isn’t really a short version to that. When I was at school, I always wanted to be a pilot, but in my last year of school, I developed myopia. And so, I wound up going into engineering for a couple years. Realized I didn’t like that. And then went to Scotland to discover my Scottish roots, and wound up working for the British Government as a computer programmer and a systems analyst back in sixties. In 1969, I was recruited by an oil company in Calgary, in Canada, who wanted to pay me like seven times more than the British Government was paying me, and so I went to Calgary. And after a couple of years there, the oil company I was working for was involved in a hostile takeover, and I was out of work. So, after looking for another job and realizing that you now needed a degree, and that job training by Honeywell or IBM wasn’t sufficient, I decided to go to University to get a degree. I was going to get a degree in physics and a minor in computing science, but when I saw my first semester grades, I switched to premed. By this time, I’m around 26 or 27 years of age. I started medical school at age 29. I actually wasn’t the oldest student in the class. As I went through school, I realized that I had to be a surgeon, because I had always been good at doing things with my hands. In fact, I still repair my own cars, modify them and stuff. So, I went into orthopedics. And as I went through the residency program, I realized that spine was what I liked the most. So, after three or four years of general orthopedic practice, I found myself doing only spine, and I’ve been doing that ever since 1990.
What makes your practice unique?
I think there are a number of things that make it stand out. First of all, I don’t have a PA that sees the patient. I see every patient. I take every history. I conduct every physical examination. I conduct every pre-surgical informed consent discussion. I see them at every post-op visit. I answer their calls on the weekends if they call with a problem. And it’s just that that’s the way I’ve been brought up to do it, and that’s the way it was done and kind of the way I’ve been trained, although I’m sure it doesn’t work that way now. But I think that those things are important, so you’re not wondering: “Okay, this guy I’ve seen for thirty seconds is going to operate on my spine.” It doesn’t work that way in my practice. I do all that myself. And I stay up to date. I was one of the first people to do minimally invasive surgery before that was even a phrase. You know, back in the nineties, I was making progressively smaller and smaller incisions because I realized very quickly that the patient’s post-operative pain and disability was directly proportional to the amount of damage I did to the muscles, finding my way into the spine. And so, I still do minimally invasive surgery when it’s possible to do so.
How important is Patient Education?
Well, I like an educated patient. And you know, before the Internet came along, I had to do all of the educating. Now I just have to correct them if they’ve got it wrong. Most of the time they don’t have it wrong. I mean very few patients go to rubbish sites. You know, those that do wind up saying: “I don’t want surgery. I’m going to go holo medicine in Mexico,” or something. But if I’m going to do surgery on the patient, I want them to know exactly what’s going on, exactly what I’m going to do, and exactly why it should or should not work and that they know what the risks are. I really want them to know what their role is in the recovery. And I have a very high success rate because of that; because they know you don’t flip a switch when you do surgery. You start the recovery process. And I get them engaged in it, and I have a very high success rate as well because of that. So, if they educate themselves online, fine. If they haven’t done that, I’m going to give them some credible websites to go to, or I’ll give them handouts, but I want them educated. An educated patient just does better.
What is your treatment philosophy?
My philosophy has always been that I will not do to a patient what I would not have done to me if I had the same diagnosis. In other words, I’m not going to do a three-level fusion if all they need is a one-level microdiscectomy. And I think you should treat patients the way you would want to be treated if you were the patient, and I found I never get led astray if I keep that philosophy in sight.
Specialty Certified in Orthopedic Spine Surgery
- The Royal College of Surgeons of Canada
- The American College of Surgeons
- The North American Spine Society
- Medical City Plano
- Medical City Frisco
- Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen
- Plano Surgical Hospital
- AO Spine
- Texas Medical Association
- Collin County Medical Society