John Hershman’s vacation had just started, when he accidentally severely sliced his left thumb with a pocketknife. He was just 14, and had grand plans of a summer full of skiing, fishing and other outdoor adventures. Those plans had to be put on hold in lieu of the splint that held his left hand stiff.
However, the summer was not lost: As he watched the plastic surgeon on call at the local hospital repair his lacerated extensor pollicis longus (EPL) tendon, a flame of interest began to flicker.
“As I returned for follow up, I began to ask him questions about all of the surgery he performed,” said Dr. Hershman, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon with Burn & Reconstructive Centers of Texas. “He allowed me to shadow him in his office for the summer and I was hooked.”
In college, Dr. Hershman worked shifts on local EMS crews, responding to everything from pains and aches to car accidents and other traumatic incidents. It was a patient from a car accident that reinforced his commitment to one day become a plastic surgeon.
“On the scene of the accident, the patient was almost unrecognizable due to the severity of their facial injuries,” he said. “Then, I ran into them a year later and was amazed. She looked great! I asked her about her recovery, and she told me all about the plastic surgeon who helped her.”
Eventually, Dr. Hershman did become a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, graduating from Texas A&M University and the University of Texas Medical Branch. He completed an internship in general surgery and residencies in general and plastic surgery at the Medical College of Georgia.
“Throughout my training, I enjoyed every day that I was able to assist in helping patients heal difficult wounds and return them to normal form and function,” he said. “There is a special bond between a surgeon and a reconstructive patient. I cherish these moments and relationships.”