Plastic surgeon Kenneth R. Arthur, M.D., serves as President-Elect of the Lancaster General Hospital Medical & Dental Staff. We asked Dr. Arthur about why he chose plastic surgery, how he got into leadership and his upcoming 10th medical mission trip.
What is your background?
I grew up near Williamsport and later Mechanicsburg. My dad was a minister, and my mom was a nurse. I was always interested in science. My parents always thought I would be a doctor and sort of guided me in that direction by giving me chemistry sets or a microscope as a kid. I went to Penn State and Jefferson Medical College. I trained in general and plastic surgery in Cooperstown, New York; Brigham & Women’s in Boston; and the University of Kentucky. I also did a hand and microsurgery fellowship in Birmingham, Alabama.
Why did you choose plastic surgery?
In my third year of medical school, I did an ER rotation where I worked with the Plastics residents at Penn. I knew I wanted to go into surgery, but it was then that I got interested in Plastics. I like the artistic aspect of it, and the variety. You’re not doing the same thing every day.
How has your career evolved since you settled in Lancaster?
I joined the former Plastic Surgery Associates in 1990. The practice evolved over the years to become LG Health Physicians Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery. Earlier in my career, I did a lot of complex hand surgery. I still do a fair amount of breast reconstruction. Now, as the senior physician in our practice, I do about 40 to 50 percent cosmetic cases. I spend just over half of my time in practice and the rest on my administrative duties. I also still take full call.
How did you get into a leadership role?
Service to the health system has always been important to me. I have served on a number of Med Staff committees, as well as the Finance Committee for the LGH Board of Trustees. I was in charge of quality assurance for Surgery for about 10 years. I served as Chair and Vice Chair of Surgery, as well as Division Chief for Plastics. Since much of our practice is outpatient, I enjoy meeting and interacting with other physicians, nurses and administrators. Now that I’m getting toward the end of my career, it’s important to me to stay involved. Serving as a Med Staff officer is a natural progression for me.
What have been some of your recent projects?
For about three years, I have led our task force around Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluation (OPPE) and Focused Professional Practice Evaluation (FPPE). FPPE evaluates providers’ professional competency for the privileges they are seeking. OPPE provides an ongoing evaluation of our providers’ professional practices and identifies any trends in quality of care. This work is essential to ensuring that LG Health providers reliably deliver high-quality care to our patients.
Dr. Ken Arthur on a mission trip in Nepal and a safari in Kenya
What are your priorities as Med Staff President-Elect?
The new officers were elected this fall, so we’re still establishing our priorities. I know I will continue my work on updating our peer review process, which we started about a year ago. The hospital currently has more than 30 peer review committees. By this spring, we expect to have one large, multispecialty peer review committee, chaired by Dr. Justin Roberts of The Heart Group. We think this approach will lead to much more valuable discussions of cases with representatives from many different specialties.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I like cook. I like to eat. I play in a rock cover band, Bad Medicine. I sang in choirs as a kid, and I was always interested in playing guitar. It’s totally different from what I do day to day. I like to travel, and I try to get away when I can. I traveled to mainland China in 2010. It was my first trip in Asia, and I was fascinated. Then my sister invited me on a mission trip to the Philippines, which was really eye-opening.
After taking a couple of medical mission trips, I co-founded a nonprofit, Operation Medical, in 2013. I’ve now done mission trips to the Philippines, India, Nepal and Rwanda. I do a lot of burn scar repairs, as well as some tumor excisions, skin cancers, reconstructive procedures and cleft lip repairs. I leave Jan. 17 for my 10th mission trip – my sixth to India. I try to tack on a few days of R&R at the end when I can, including trips to the Taj Mahal, the Maldives and Abu Dhabi.
So many of our physicians volunteer their time and expertise on mission trips. We’d like physicians to share their experiences at our upcoming Med Staff meetings. I will speak at the Jan. 9 meeting. If you’re doing mission work, we would like to hear from you.