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Doctor Passes on His Love for Orthopedics

June 16, 2008

By Cheryl Powell, The Akron Beacon Journal, Ohio

Jun. 16–A dedicated father-and-son duo are the backbone of orthopedics in Akron.

If you’re seeking care at a hospital in town for bone or joint problems, there’s a two-in-three chance that Dr. Dennis Weiner or his son Scott is in charge of the program.

Dr. Dennis Weiner, 69, became chair of orthopedics at Akron Children’s Hospital 28 years ago.

A couple decades later, Dr. Scott Weiner, 48, an orthopedic oncology specialist, took over as head of orthopedics at Summa Health System in 2004.

The elder Dr. Weiner used to bring his teenage son into the operating room to watch surgeries.

Now the two sit together at medical meetings as peers.

And when a young patient has possible bone cancer, the veteran Dr. Weiner is quick to refer the child to his son for care.

“It’s a sense of pride,” the father said. “I’ve sent patients to him because I think he’s the best to handle their care. I think it’s a sense of pride that he’s not only my son but he’s an outstanding oncologist.”

A survey of doctors released last year by national physician search and consulting firm Merritt Hawkins & Associates found that the majority (57 percent) wouldn’t recommend medicine as a career to their children.

But unlike the growing number of dissatisfied doctors, the elder Dr. Weiner always wanted his kids to follow in his footsteps. Three of Dennis Weiner’s seven grown children have pursued careers in medicine.

Another son, Brad, became an orthopedic surgeon and works as a spine specialist and researcher in Houston. Like Scott, he completed his orthopedic residency at Summa.

“They’re graduates of the program that Scott now runs,” his dad is quick to point out.

Likewise, daughter Kris recently earned her nursing degree and soon will start working in the geriatric program at Summa.

Nevertheless, he said, he was careful never to push them into the demanding, time-consuming career.

“They saw the lifestyle,” he said. “It impressed me that they still wanted to do it.”

“I never felt any pressure or anything,” his son agreed.

In recent years, the Weiners have been a driving force behind an effort to put Akron on the map as an orthopedic research powerhouse.

The two spend time conducting research together at Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy (NEOUCOM).

Then they started talking — first with each other, then with other doctors and researchers — about encouraging more joint projects in the region.

The result has been making plans to bring together Summa, Children’s, Akron General Health System, NEOUCOM and the University of Akron to create an Orthopaedic Research Institute of Northeastern Ohio.

The initiative recently got a major boost from the state, which agreed to provide $8.6 million to recruit top researchers for two endowed research positions.

“The thing got bigger and bigger,” Dennis Weiner said.

These days, family gatherings often turn into an informal physician grand rounds of sorts.

“It drives our wives crazy,” Scott said with a laugh, “because when doctors get together, we talk about doctor stuff.”

If Dennis Weiner has his way, there will be at least two Dr. Weiners in town for many more years.

“I’m 69, and I want to work as long as I can stand up,” he said.

Will more Weiners be joining the practice?

Dennis Weiner sees potential doctors among his 11 grandchildren, including Scott’s four children: Ben, Brian, Julie and Nick.

“I love going to work every day, and I think they see that,” Scott said. “We’re all encouraging them.”

“Keep your fingers crossed,” his father added.

Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or chpowell@thebeaconjournal.com.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Akron Beacon Journal, Ohio

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