The physicians included in the following Castle Connolly Top Doctors listing exemplify the many pillars of excellence in medicine. Every doctor recognized was nominated by peers, academic medical centers or hospitals, both for their expertise and their compassion for patients. Doctors run the gamut of specialties – cardiologists, endocrinologists, oncologists, nephrologists, neurologists – and are compiled here in a comprehensive list.
1. Anil Patel
Dean McGee Eye Institute
Anil D. Patel serves as medical director of clinical operations at the Dean McGee Eye Institute, where patients from across Oklahoma come for treatment because Patel is one of four neuro-ophthalmology specialists in the state.
Patel’s most rewarding days are when “we can restore vision due to neurological disease.”
Patel completed medical school and an ophthalmology residency at the University of Saskatchewan, followed by a fellowship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. After stints in his native Canada, he was recruited to the University of Oklahoma and began his practice at Dean McGee.
Patel chose his specialty to treat optic nerve disorders, strokes, brain tumors, double vision, visual field loss, pupil abnormalities, idiopathic intracranial hypertension and unexplained vision losses. He is inspired by advancements that have come with MRI and other technological breakthroughs. He says treatments of optic nerve inflammation also keep advancing with new biological agents.
Patel enjoys time with his wife (a pharmacist) and their two teenage children, traveling and staying active.
2. Types of Headaches
Nearly everyone experiences some form of head pain on occasion. The throbbing, uncomfortable, distracting malady occurs either episodically (occasionally) or chronically. According to healthline.com, there are 10 types of headaches:
- Tension – often dull and aching, and triggered by stress;
- Cluster – occurring in a series;
- Migraine – deep pulsing that can last for days and may impact eyesight;
- Sinus – from an allergy or infection;
- Hormone – linked to menstruation and pregnancy;
- Caffeine – from too much of this stimulant or going cold turkey off it;
- Exertion – from intense physical activity;
- Hypertension – common to those treated for high blood pressure with pain on both sides of the head, often with pulsating sensations and requiring immediate medical attention;
- Rebound – from overuse of pain relievers with feelings similar to a tension headache and the possibility of migraine-like pain;
- Post-trauma – the result of injury, with feelings like tension or migraine headaches, a duration up to a year after an injury and the possibility of becoming chronic.
3. M. Connie Nguyen
Oklahoma Cancer Specialists and Research Institute
M. Connie Nguyen chose her field to take care of cancer patients and to continue a lifelong passion for the use of best technology, physics and science in daily practice, she says.
Nguyen graduated from UCLA Medical School and trained in the highly technical field of radiation oncology at Stanford University. She also completed an externship at Harvard University.
By continuing research and expanding her expertise, Nguyen says radiation oncology is interdisciplinary and works in conjunction with surgery and medical oncology partners at Oklahoma Cancer Specialists and Research Institute. The goal is to provide the best individualized treatment plan for each patient’s specific needs.
With 12-hour days the norm, Nguyen works to communicate with patients and their families.
“The one thing I want everyone to know about radiation is that it is extremely safe,” she says. “Most people never realize that we are exposed to radiation daily from the sun and that we have built-in repair mechanisms to overcome radiation exposure. The science is highly technical to allow safe delivery of radiation to cure cancer.
“Patients’ fighting strength and endurance humble my spirit and encourage me to find the best way to fight the cancer with minimal side effects.”
4. Tests Over Age 50
Once you hit the big 5-0, WebMD.com recommends essential screening tests and actions to preserve your health.
- Get a fasting blood-sugar test to see if diabetes or pre-diabetes is present.
- Track your weight to combat pounds commonly gained after age 50 and fight back with movement and healthy food choices.
- Undergo a colonoscopy, the most frequent method to screen for colon cancer (although other options exist).
- Log and know your average blood pressure. Untreated hypertension targets the heart, brain, eyes and kidneys.
- Have a cholesterol profile done every four years – more often if you’re at risk for heart disease.
- If you’re a woman, get periodic Pap tests, cervical cancer screenings and mammograms.
- Check your skin for moles and spots to show your doctor.
- Get an eye exam every year.
- Update flu immunizations yearly, along with a tetanus booster every 10 years.
- Ask your doctor if Hepatitis A and B vaccines are recommended for you.
- Vaccinate against the herpes virus that causes shingles around age 60.
5. Satish (Steve) Arora
GI of Norman
Steve Arora, a specialist in advanced and comprehensive gastroenterology care, provides diagnoses and treatment planning for digestive conditions and gastrointestinal diseases.
He says he chose his specialty because “I wanted to make an impact on the wellness of the community, and the GI system is the largest system in the body.”
Arora graduated from the Maharishi Dayanand University Medical College and Hospital in Rohtak, India, and did his residency at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York, followed by a gastroenterology fellowship at Mount Sinai Medical Center, also in New York. On a typical day, he performs endoscopies or sees patients in the office while always preparing for emergencies, such as gastrointestinal bleeding.
Colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer deaths in the country, so Arora advocates screening via colonoscopies starting at age 50. He says some of the most rewarding parts of his practice are convincing reluctant patients to undergo colonoscopies, catching polyps before they turn into cancer and saving lives by finding early stage cancers.
Arora is excited by advances in his field, including a cure for hepatitis C with oral medications instead of injections; colorectal screenings that test the DNA of a person’s stool; swallowing a capsule with a camera to view the small intestine not accessible by scopes; and immune/biological therapies.
6. Super foods
So-called super foods optimize health with high nutritional concentrations, Harvard Health Publishing says. These include:
- Berries for disease-fighting nutrients and high levels of antioxidants;
- Dark, leafy greens for vitamins A and C, calcium and fiber;
- Fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which, along with olive oil, help to prevent heart disease;
- Whole grains, which provide fiber and lower cholesterol;
- Yogurt, a good source for bacteria and probiotics;
- Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radishes and turnips – for fiber and vitamins;
- Legumes, a broad category including kidney, red, black and garbanzo beans, for fiber, folate and plant-based protein;
- Tomatoes, which contain vitamin C and lycopene.
7. Timothy Mapstone
Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center
Timothy Mapstone discovered a love of neuroscience and surgery as a young physician and chose pediatric neurosurgery, he says, because he was drawn to “taking care of children with congenital diseases, such as chiari, tethered spinal cord and craniofacial anomalies, as well as … epilepsy.”
Mapstone graduated from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio and, after medical school, subspecialized training and stints at other universities, joined the department of neurosurgery at OU Medicine. Focusing on advancements like neuro-imaging, the former department chair says “with current technology we see in finer detail the anatomy and functioning of the central nervous system, making diagnosis and treatment more accurate and safer. The tools we use in surgery have vastly improved, allowing better and safer surgery with less injury to normal tissue.”
A primary benefit of his job, he adds, is that “as pediatric neurosurgeons we tend to follow our patients until they reach adulthood. Oftentimes they will need multiple surgeries. It is very rewarding to see them grow and mature from infants and toddlers to young adults and then to get announcements of graduations, marriages, or just cards updating life from them.”
8. Vitamins and supplements
While swallowing a vitamin, you may wonder if it actually helps. According to the American Heart Association, the answer is probably yes, in moderation. However, varied and healthy foods always trump a supplement.
The key to having the right amount of vitamins and minerals in your body is a balanced diet. Foods provide many bioactive compounds and dietary fiber not usually found in supplements. Plus, some supplements don’t allow for a full absorption of vitamins.
Supplements most often help when a nutrient deficiency has been identified by a physician, such as anemia, for which iron pills and a healthy diet are recommended.
9. Grant Cox
OB-GYN Specialists of Tulsa
Grant Cox brings knowledge and skill to all parts of his specialty, especially infertility and gynecologic surgery.
“Delivering babies is pretty awesome,” he says. “I really like surgery and procedures and very much enjoy having a long-term relationship with patients.”
Growing up on a ranch in Tahlequah, Cox cared for mares and helped them foal. He knew as a young man that he wanted to be a doctor “when I volunteered at the local hospital and thought every minute was inspiring and thought provoking.”
He attended medical school and residency at the University of Oklahoma and was recently awarded the American College of OB-GYN District VII Distinguished Service Award, an honor that covers nine states.
A typical day begins before sunrise with surgery and continues with rounds and deliveries. Cox spends evenings with his 13-year old twins and his wife, also an OB-GYN.
“The most rewarding part of my career is watching a new mom hold her moments-old baby for the first time,” Cox says. “Every time is great, but when a certain mother has had years of infertility or miscarriages that moment becomes indescribably special.”
Cox also advocates for access to contraception, especially for adolescents and young adults.
10. Healthy Joints
The Arthritis Foundation says common sense plays a large part in staying flexible.
- Stretch frequently and practice proper ergonomics.
- Avoid extra pounds, fast food, high heels, smoking and television.
- Relax with massage, vacations and breaks in routine.
- Wear supportive shoes and focus on low-impact exercise and strength training.
- Spend time outdoors.
- Keep a daily food journal and note intakes of calcium, fruits, vegetables, fish oil capsules, glucosamine supplements and multivitamins, all of which help your joints.
- Recover from exercise with warm baths and/or warm compresses.
- Manage pain with topical analgesics, like capsaicin, or with cold packs and ice massage on sore spots.
- Get an annual checkup and ask your physician to examine your joints.
11. Ralph D. Ensley
Saint Francis hospital
Ralph Ensley’s specialty means taking care of extremely ill patients. He is inspired by advancements in his field and advocates being proactive in health so that patients never need to see him.
“Much of what we do is treat things that might have been prevented,” he says. “I talk to patients about Dr. Ensley’s 4 E’s: eat less, eat right (think rabbit food), exercise and embrace the hunger as we have to be willing to accept a little sensation of hunger off and on during the day.”
Ensley graduated from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and has practiced for more than 33 years. With no plans to slow down, he says his wife and family accommodate his long hours because new information in his field is frequently discovered.
“Throughout my career, there have been continuous, new and dramatic treatments year after year,” he says. “I’m one of those strange people who liked going to school, and cardiology has been a wonderful opportunity to keep going to meetings and lectures around the country and learning as the field has progressed so rapidly.”
12. Avoiding infections
Remembering or learning how infectious diseases operate can reduce respiratory diseases and foodborne illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common sense prevails.
Avoid respiratory infections, such as the flu, by staying away from an infected person’s coughs and sneezes. Germs can also live for hours on surfaces, so wash your hands often and do not share foods or drinks with the ill person.
A foodborne illness circulates through a virus, bacteria or parasite and can be contracted from consuming contaminated food and water. Ingest only fully cooked foods, pasteurized dairy products and potable water.
13. Denise Rable
Surgical breast oncologist
INTEGRIS medical group
The multifaceted field of breast cancer keeps Denise Rable intrigued nearly 30 years after graduating from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.
“Emotional support is just as important to the patient’s well-being as the surgical intervention,” Rable says. “You can actually see a patient’s anxiety decrease when information is delivered clearly and in a caring way.”
Rable reminds that breast oncology continues to evolve with each discovery and new procedure.
“We continue to study and rapidly develop better treatment modalities,” she says. “Every patient’s treatment plan should take into account many unique factors and be individualized for that patient.”
Rable is also fascinated by genetic and inheritance patterns that explain why some patients develop breast cancer.
“Understanding a family’s genetic predisposition to developing breast cancer can help us proceed in a proactive fashion,” she says.
Patients should assert themselves in the process to increase the chances of positive outcomes, Rable says.
“Perform regular breast self exams,” she says. “Report any changes or concerns. Get your recommended annual mammograms. Seek out a specialist to discuss any abnormal findings and/or recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Get a second opinion if you feel that would be helpful.”
14. Cleaning for Your Health
Studies show there are many surfaces in our homes we don’t clean often enough. High-traffic areas and frequently held objects are likely to harbor germs and bacteria that can cause debilitating illnesses.
A study published by NSF International, a global sanitation group, shows that many people have misconceptions about a house’s dirtiest areas. Most expect the bathroom to be the most germ-infested, but the kitchen has more bacteria, and even fecal matter, present – most of it on a dish rag or sponge, in the kitchen sink and on the counters.
But don’t take a blowtorch to your kitchen after reading this. If you wipe spills immediately after they happen, disinfect your dish rags daily and splash a little bleach in your dish water, you’ll keep those germs and bacteria at bay.
Other surprisingly disgusting objects you should clean daily include your mobile phone and, maybe not as surprising, your toilet bowl. Typically, people scrub their toilets once a week, but you’re better served to wipe it down with a disinfectant cleaner once a day; adding a bit into the bowl and giving it a quick swish will help, too. But few people ever think about disinfecting their phones. Given how much we handle them and where we set them down (ever put yours on the top of a public toilet paper dispenser?), you should wipe them with a damp alcohol wipe at least once daily.