Growing up in Chattanooga, Rob Headrick and his friend Charles Portera shared a love of medicine that would ultimately lead both on different tracks to help others. For Dr. Headrick, the road lead to a career as a thoracic surgeon, while Dr. Portera would become an oncological surgeon, leaving his hometown of Chattanooga to set up practice in Anchorage, Ak.
While thousands of miles separated the two and career responsibilities provided long days of service, the two recently managed to spend time together in Alaska where Dr. Portera introduced his friend to Monica Zappa, a young musher planning to race in her fourth Iditarod in March.
Dr. Headrick and his wife Anita have five beagles of their own and love how the dogs interact with each other. However, what he learned in Alaska about the Iditarod race and dogs gave him pause. Ms. Zappa explained that throughout the course of the race, various dogs would move from one position to another, with lead dogs changing to carry the team through various parts of the race. She shared that each dog plays a critical role in the success of the overall team.
Dr. Headrick noted that this same strategy is one that his own team uses for patients coming to him for surgical procedures. “We have an amazing team,” said Dr. Headrick. “At any point during a procedure, a member of our team takes the lead to monitor the procedure and the critical care being provided to the patient. I count on their leadership to provide the best information to me as the surgery proceeds.”
Dr. Headrick’s visit to Alaska provided tremendous respect for the Iditarod and the athletes who train and race in the annual event. “Once I learned about the strategy behind these amazing teams, Anita and I decided we had to get involved.” The Headricks joined on as sponsors along with Dr. Portera and Alaska Surgical Oncology to support the team.
“Our medical careers have taken us in very different directions, but we share a passion for our patients and the special place that provided us with so much opportunity. I see this same passion in those who participate in the Iditarod and I’m looking forward to seeing how well Team Zappa does in this year’s race,” said Dr. Headrick.
Dr. Headrick works with cardiologists, pulmonologists and specialists in internal medicine, family practive, women’s health, endocrinology and other medical specialties to addres patient needs with the latest surgical responses. Dr. Headrick is a graduage of Vanderbilt University and the UT College of Medicine. After an intership and residency in general surgery, he completed a thoracic and cardiovascular residency at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Headrick is certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. His a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons, a memer of the shouthern Thoracic Surgical Association, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and, the Tennessee Medical Association.