Meet Summit Lead Anesthesiologist Dr. Douglas Dubbink
Dr. Douglas Dubbink joined Summit Orthopedics to develop anesthesiology protocols designed to improve the surgical experience and provide skillful care to every patient.
Dr. Douglas Dubbink vividly remembers his first impressions of the medical world. “I grew up on a farm, and my mother was a registered nurse,” he says. “As a child, I’d go to the hospital to bring her lunch or pick her up after work. Our hospital was very antiseptic and austere; as a boy, I couldn’t imagine working in such a colorless environment.”
An interest in science and chemistry prompted Dr. Dubbink to reconsider those early impressions. While he was attending college, his mother arranged an introduction to a hospital internist. “He was a wonderful gentleman who took me under his wing and brought me on rounds with him at the hospital,” Dr. Dubbink remembers. When Dubbink was accepted to medical school at Michigan State, he met an anesthesiologist during his surgery rotation who set him on the path to an anesthesiology subspecialty.
“Choosing a medical focus is something of an enigma,” Dr. Dubbink says. “It’s driven by who you are and whom you feel comfortable with and where you develop relationships. Anesthesiology was a fit for me because my favorite subject in medical school was anatomy, but I was a chemistry geek interested in physiology and pharmacology too. Anesthesiology married all my interests, and provided the opportunity to care for and reassure surgical patients who are frequently apprehensive about what I do.
Dr. Dubbink elected to take an intense major university hospital internship at Henry Ford in downtown Detroit. “It was a marvelous experience,” he remembers. “It was a lot of work, but that year exposed me to a wide range of medical disciplines like nephrology, oncology, general medicine, and family medicine. The experience provided an overarching medical background, with all of the societal and trauma challenges that come with being in a large urban hospital.”
After his year at Henry Ford, Dr. Dubbink pursued three more years of anesthesiology-specific training at Mayo Clinic. “I did an anesthesiology residency followed by a pain management fellowship at Mayo,” Dr. Dubbink remembers. “Mayo’s program is designed to immerse students in specific surgical disciplines—like orthopedics, general surgery, and cardiac surgery—for one to three months.”
Dr. Dubbink and Dr. Peter Daly trained at the same time at Mayo. Years later, when Summit Orthopedics designed their new surgery center at Vadnais Heights, Dr. Daly and his team invited Dr. Dubbink to apply his 26 years of experience to developing a surgical anesthesia system that would guide patients through surgery and rehabilitation and deliver the best possible physiological outcome.
“I wanted to create a pathway that minimizes inconsistencies in the delivery of care,” Dr. Dubbink explains. “If you do that, then you can minimize mistakes by addressing each patient’s surgical care needs in advance. When patients arrive for surgery, we want to have at hand all the information we need to keep them safe through their procedures. I am very proud of the program we’ve developed at Vadnais Heights, and we are using the same pathways and protocols at our new Eagan surgery center.”
Patient conversations about anesthesia are built into the pathway. “I have a conversation with my patient just before surgery, and I try to see each patient afterward,” says Dr. Dubbink. “However, many folks are doing so well afterward that they can bypass the recovery room, begin walking, and move to their care suite. In those cases, I may miss that second visit—but that’s how I know that our pathway is working well and delivering the care we want each patient to have.”
“My goal is to improve my patient’s surgical experience. I strive to provide calm gentle reassurance for patients who are anxious about anesthesia and ensure that every patient is skillfully cared for throughout their entire procedure. When a patient awakens after surgery and openly wonders why they were so nervous previously, I know I’ve done my job.”
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