Now that he’s back at his practice, Dr. Gilbert is the first to express his appreciation for the extra efforts of his family, staff and colleagues who kept Newport Dermatology & Laser Associates functioning smoothly in his absence. His wife Gloria, one of five registered nurses at the practice, managed the business in his absence. The couple’s oldest daughter, Melissa—a physician assistant—came on board to help serve patients in her father’s absence. Dermatologist Michelle Aszterbaum, MD, joined the practice in 2010. Four medical assistants and four front desk employees round out the team. “Everyone in my family and at the office has been amazing, and I don’t think I’ve lost any patients due to the deployment,” says Dr. Gilbert. “All of my patients knew I’d be gone and they were so excited for me after reading about it in the paper. Some of my cosmetic patients did wait for me to come back, and others were happy to see my daughter or one of the RNs in my absence.”
Given the intensity of his Afghanistan deployment, one has to wonder what it’s been like for Dr. Gilbert to return to business as usual. “I love talking to my patients and following their lives again,” he says. “This is my reality here and that was my reality there. One is not better; they’re just different. It’s good to be home, doing what I’m trained to do.”
That doesn’t mean the lieutenant colonel plans to hang up his boots any time soon, though. Dr. Gilbert happily accepts any and all opportunities to speak to groups and individuals about his experiences in hopes of enticing more colleagues to join him in the military. “I see part of my role in the army as trying to motivate other physicians to join the service,” he says. “There are a lot of people like me who have mature practices and are financially stable enough to do this. I want to show them it’s not too late to serve our country.”
Darcy Lewis writes about business and health care and is a frequent contributor to MedEsthetics.