Rodney E. Brenneman, M.D., serves as Chief of the Division of Orthopedics at Lancaster General Hospital. We asked Dr. Brenneman about his division’s current priorities, what he likes most about orthopedics, and his hobbies from singing to cycling.
What is your background?
I grew up in Virginia on a cattle farm. Once I finished high school, I embarked on a nontraditional path to medical school, which included three years as a missionary in 12 European countries, followed by a job in construction. I studied religion, music and biology at Eastern Mennonite University. Then I had shoulder surgery and initially decided to go into physical therapy. However, I am a fixer at heart, and I decided eventually to be an orthopedic surgeon. I went to medical school at Penn State Hershey and completed my residency there as well. In 2014, I joined Orthopedic Associates of Lancaster, where I am primarily a joint replacement surgeon.
I have served in a number of leadership positions in the past five years. I am currently Vice President of OAL. In the past I served as director of the LGH Geriatric Fracture Program; Chair of the Quality Committee for the LG Health Community Care Collaborative ACO; and on the Board of Directors for the Clinically Integrated Network. I became Chief of the Division of Orthopedics at LGH in fall 2018. I’m getting to know all of the people and the parts that make up LGH, going to a lot of meetings and still trying to figure things out. I am surrounded by a lot of hardworking and engaged individuals who all make my job an enjoyable challenge.
Why did you want to serve in a leadership role?
I have a natural desire to solve problems, and this has placed me into many leadership positions throughout the years. I enjoy refining established processes and developing novel solutions. The challenge I find is in balancing the time required by the extra commitments with my normal responsibilities and my family/recreational life. But it is very rewarding to be a part of something larger than my immediate circle of influence.
What are some current priorities or projects for the division? How about further down the road?
We are constantly refining protocols and procedures for the process of performing orthopedic surgery at LGH. We are currently developing pathways to facilitate the "outpatient" total joint surgery experience. I am overseeing some equipment upgrades to the Orthopedic Center ORs. I also try to facilitate and improve the interactions between members of the orthopedic community and those of other departments and divisions, hoping to enhance the quality of care across the LGH experience for our orthopedic patients.
What do you like most about your work?
As previously mentioned, I am a fixer and a problem solver. Some of my favorite patients are elderly farmers and laborers who have debilitating arthritis and are overjoyed after I replace their worn-out joints. That is perhaps the most satisfying part of my job: giving patients the function of their bodies back and returning them to the activities that give them purpose.
Tell us about singing.
When I was growing up, I played piano, guitar, bass guitar, mandolin and trumpet, and sang in numerous choirs. I had to put music on hold once I went to medical school. However, I picked up an instrument and sang for the first time in 10 years during residency graduation, when I performed my own spin on a country classic and created “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to do Ortho.” A couple of years ago, my physician assistant, Hope Weber, encouraged me to audition for singing the National Anthem for the Lancaster Barnstormers. I have done that a few times now. It’s a great experience and always a lot of fun.
What else do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I like to spend time with my wife Michele and our three daughters, ages 11, 8 and 6, as well as our mini-labradoodle. I recently turned 40, and I celebrated by running two marathons and three half-marathons in 18 months. I also enjoy riding anything with wheels, including mountain and road bikes. I ride one of my motorcycles to work anytime I can. I also have several unicycles and a penny-farthing, which has a large front wheel and a smaller rear wheel. And yes, I do get some funny looks when I ride one of those around the neighborhood.