Surgeon values lessons learned half a world away

Dr. Miles Landry

Calculating how to safely dismount from a runaway elephant wasn’t exactly on Dr. Miles Landry’s to-do list when he crossed the big pond from his hometown of New Orleans to study medicine in Queensland Australia. But that’s one impromptu skill he acquired on a side trip to Thailand.

Cleveland Clinic Tradition Hospital, Florida

Of course, he has many others. As a general surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Tradition Hospital, Landry specializes in complex abdominal hernia repair and minimally invasive surgery to repair or remove diseased tissue on the organs within the abdomen, including the stomach and colon.

“Many of these complex problems arise from complications from prior surgeries, aging and weight gain,” he explained.

“There are basically two types of hernias. The common groin hernia comes from lifting and the belly button hernia is common for women after having a few babies or if someone carries extra weight in the abdomen. Complications from colon cancer, gastric ulcers, and perforations and gall bladders are other common ailments that require the expertise of a general surgeon.”

Landry increasingly provides care through the use of minimally invasive and endoscopic techniques.

“These advanced techniques minimize trauma to the tissue allowing for quicker recovery and discharge. People can get back to living in a more expedient timeframe. One thing I learned in Australia was the importance of taking the time to educate the patient about the procedure and to help them understand what’s happening, why it happened, how they can best prevent it from happening again and what their outcome will be,” explained Landry.

“The better they understand, the better they will recover and the faster they will move forward.

“In Australia, healthcare is a socialized system where everyone is covered,” he continued.

“Your primary care physician takes care of all your problems for life, so instead of going to an emergency room or urgent care, you would just see our primary care doctor for everything. Learning how to be a good general practitioner who takes care of all problems was really the biggest part of my training over there. There just aren’t as many specialists as there are here.

“It’s interesting to see how different countries address healthcare,” he said.

“Their healthcare is free to everyone and very efficient, but the downside is there is sometimes a waiting period for non-emergency procedures and limited access to medications. They also have a private healthcare system on top of the general one at an additional cost that can fast-track healthcare at a preferred facility. Our healthcare system is far more expensive, and more specialized, but it delivers excellent care with little waiting time. I guess it’s safe to say there are ways to do it cheaper but it’s not necessarily better.”

As for Australia, Landry and his wife were newlyweds when they took off on their great adventure Down Under, where they lived for two years while he attended university in Brisbane.

The University of Queensland, Brisbane

“I was blessed to be accepted into a unique medical program at The University of Queensland which had partnered with Ochsner Health system to provide medical educational studies overseas and then return the students to the states to finish their clinical and residency training,” he explained.

“Louisiana had just been devastated by Hurricane Katrina and while they had several medical schools in the area, they still needed to bring in more doctors. By partnering with the Ochsner Health system, The University of Queensland gained access to clinical trials stateside that they have very limited access to in Australia, and the overseas medical training gave Ochsner Heath system access to more doctors without building a new med school.”

Landry had already graduated from LSU with a degree in journalism and applied to med school, but had initially been turned down, so he spent two years working for surgeons at a local hospital as an extra set of hands in operating rooms.

“Basically, they just needed someone to assist them, hold a retractor and stay out of the way,” he chuckled. “It was a grunt job with low pay but it opened up the world of surgery to me. When I heard about the new opportunity to study in Australia, I applied again and was accepted.”

The timing was far from perfect, however, as he was engaged to be married and the wedding had to be pushed up six months in order to start the new semester. “We got married in Baton Rouge, packed up two bags and boarded a plane for Australia. We had a day and a half layover in Fiji, so that was our honeymoon,” he said with a laugh.

During their two-year stay they met new friends and embarked on many travels. It was during a side trip to Thailand that Landry and his wife took a seemingly docile elephant ride when the group of elephants spooked and took off in a stampede.

“My elephant turned right and ran into the jungle while the rest of the elephants, including the one carrying my wife, turned left and ran as a group in the plain,” he exclaimed.

“So, I’m holding on as my elephant hits a tree, bulldozes it over and keeps on running. In a moment of clarity, I decided to jump into what I thought was a soft bush but turned out to be covered in thorns. I jumped, got scratched up, but otherwise OK, and proceeded to walk back down the trampled path to find the rest of the group. They found my renegade beast in a nearby village.”

Senior Director of Hospital operations Gabriel Brooks with Dr. Miles Landry at the Cleveland Clinic Traditional Hospital.

Landry returned to New Orleans to complete his clinical training at Ochsner and completed his six-year residency in general surgery at University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine. This past July, Cleveland Clinic Tradition Hospital invited him to join their growing team and he accepted.

Landry is settling into his new home in Palm City with his wife and five children; two boys, ages 5 and 3, one daughter, 2, and twin sons who just turned two months.

“I do a lot of diaper changing and babysitting in my spare time,” he jokes. “But I still find time to brew some craft whiskey.”

Last updated:
16 October 2020