Vascular Institute of Chattanooga
Hope & Health
Each day brings a different challenge for Dr. William Harris, but that’s part of the reason why he loves his work at Vascular Institute of Chattanooga so much. He explains, “Vascular surgery is special. We get to take care of all different parts of the body, from the carotid arteries to veins in the chest, abdomen, arms, and legs, in people of all ages. One day I might perform an operation using wires and stents, while other surgeries necessitate scalpels and suture – there’s always something new to encounter.” At VIC, one of the only centers in the Southeast dedicated to limb salvage, Dr. Harris can use his extensive medical training to help patients regain normalcy and a renewed sense of purpose. “Seeing a patient who had no hope, and being able to give them back that hope … that’s why I do what I do every day,” he shares.
Midwestern University – Downers Grove, IL
General Surgery and Vascular Surgery, American Board of Surgery
1. Why have you chosen this field of specialty?
Vascular surgeons are unique in the subspecialty environment in that they get to follow their patients usually for the rest of their lives. That’s pretty special, being able to develop such a long-term relationship with your patients.
2. What is one of your happiest professional moments?
I love seeing a patient, who was potentially facing amputation or a life-threatening issue, walk into our office on two legs for follow-up after surgery.
3. What is your best advice for patients?
Stop smoking! I am also a big advocate for exercise. Just getting outside for a 10-minute walk is beneficial and can add years to your life.
4. What do you see as the most exciting new development for your profession?
Vascular surgery is amazing, as it is at the forefront of innovation. For instance, the treatment of an aortic aneurysm 20 years ago would require a massive open operation and weeks in the hospital. Today, it can usually be treated through incisions a centimeter long and requires only a night in the hospital.
5. What’s the key to making a great first impression?
I am a firm believer in looking a patient in the eye and speaking to them not as a statistic, but as a person. When I interact with patients, I think about how I would feel if I were in their shoes and how I would hope to interact with my provider.