Who are we?
Sometimes I wonder myself about that question. Are we from outer space?
I am Dr. Calvin Lee, and I’m writing this section. Dr. Tammy Wu, my wife doesn’t like to talk about herself much and says that her “results speaks for themselves.” Therefore she thinks that this section doesn’t need to be written. But I’m of the believe that the more you know about us, the more at ease you’ll feel if you picked us to be your surgeons.
Dr. Wu may have graduated #1 from Ivy League Medical School, but I got this award, ha!
First, yes we’re married.
We get that question once in a while. Or people act surprised when they find out that we’re married. We love working together and have no problem seeing each other every waking moment. But that doesn’t actually happen because I’m usually on one side of the office and Dr. Tammy Wu is on the other side of the office. Plus she has her own procedures and I have my own procedures too. We will come together and do one of our favorite procedures: The Tummy Tuck. This is a procedure where I get to be an assistant to the surgery. And if you pick Dr. Tammy Wu to be your surgeon, you’ll get another surgeon to be your assistant (this is special) – no, not for free, but it’s at a good price – you shall see. Normally you’ll get a nurse or a tech as an assistant, but for the Tummy Tucks, I like to help.
But I understand, perhaps our different last names threw you off. But here’s my take on it. Do you really want another “Dr. Lee” to confuse you? So we are Dr. Lee and Dr. Wu – and hopefully you won’t get confused.
Secondly, yes, I’m a man, and my wife is a woman.
What? That’s my reaction too. But I hear our team members on the phone saying this. Yes, Dr. Lee is a man. I had to think about this for a while. Why are they saying this to the patients? It must be because the patients are confused. You know I have a deep voice (have you heard my Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon radio announcements?), and I have short hair. So there should be no confusion. But alas, I think I figured it out. There is a neighboring town very close to Modesto, CA called Turlock, CA. In Turlock there is another physician group of a husband and wife and they are in Family Medicine. Guess what their names are? It’s Dr. Lee and Dr. Wu also, but the Dr. Lee is the wife in that case and Dr. Wu is the husband. I heard they have a good reputation so it’s all good if they got us confused, but the male/female husband/wife thing is different when you go from the Dr. Lee and Dr. Wu of Modesto to the Dr. Lee and Dr. Wu of Turlock. Okay? So Dr. Lee, me, is a man in this case. And you should know that my wife’s full name is Dr. Tzuying Tammy Wu. I think Tammy gives it away that she’s a woman. But if we went by “Tzuying” – it would be harder to pronounce, plus it would add further to the gender confusion.
So in summary, Turlock has a Dr. Lee/Wu group and they are a Family Practice Physician and their genders are reversed from us. We are the Dr. Lee/Wu group of Modesto and we are Surgeons. Dr. Tammy Wu (my wife) is a plastic surgeon, and I’m (Dr. Calvin Lee) a general surgeon. I’m sure this is clear now. Or clear as mud so they say.
Did we go to School? Harvard or Brown?
Well, I’ve never gotten this question before, but if you look at Dr. Tammy Wu, it seems as if she was born a surgeon. She operates like she was born to do it and was a natural throughout her training. But that might be the case. Look at her family, she comes from a family of 16 doctors (including cousins). Some of these guys are big wigs at Harvard University. Her father was a Gynecological Surgeon. Her brothers are anesthesiologist and musculoskeletal radiologist
Did I mention she graduated #1 from her Ivy League Medical School? Let me back up a second. I met Dr. Tammy Wu because we were both in the same program at Brown University. It was called the Program in Liberal Medical Education. They prided themselves in a broad based curriculum – drawing from all different types of knowledge – not just focused narrowly on biology. Well, this program is very competitive and they take 60 or less folks per year (from around the world) to enroll at Brown University for this type of medical training. For 8 years, I hung around these same 60 genius students, and we’ve become very close because the training was 8 years to become a physician. Of those 60 folks, 3 in our class (yes Dr. Wu and I were in the same class and we met Freshman year) got the ability to boast that they turned Harvard down to go to this program at Brown University. I was one of those 3. But in the end my wife graduated on top of the class and got the honors for doing that. We are very grateful for Brown for the opportunity for a great medical education which helped us challenge the norm, and helped us think independently and as people call it “outside the box” for unique and challenging medical situations. After those 8 years at Brown. Dr. Wu and I went to surgery training programs for another 6 more years for a total of 14 years after high school. Dr. Wu went to Southern Illinois University (Springfield) for her dream plastic surgery training. Some of the best plastic surgeons have emerged from that program, and she did the research and wanted to go there. I went to Case Western Reserve in Cleveland initially for my general surgery training. Eventually, I was given the opportunity to transfer to be at the same program as Dr. Tammy Wu. Coincidentally, my initial program in Cleveland opened up a spot for her so she could join me, so we had flexibility in options, but we chose for me to transfer to be closer to her.
Are we board certified?
Dr. Tzuying T. Wu is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. You have to search her name in the board certified website via Tzuying Wu. And I (Dr. Calvin Lee) am board certified by the American Board of Surgery. In the end, our own take on this – we are all continually improving ourselves, and board certification for us is the minimal standard for ourselves in our field of aesthetic medicine and surgery. So we continue to learn from our patients and improve. We feel that our patients are the best teachers we’ve ever had.
Dr. Wu and Dr. Lee operating together in Modesto, CA
Tzuying Tammy Wu is a woman plastic surgeon
Yes, now that we’ve established that Dr. Wu is a woman. Did you know that there are only 668 women plastic surgeons in the US as of May 2012 according to ASPS membership. ASPS is the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Basically women make up 13% of plastic surgeons in the ASPS. Dr. Wu herself is a consumer of plastic surgery and for certain aspects of plastic surgery, women plastic surgeons bring some unique perspectives to the field. We think that this is an advantage.
2012 data reveals 668 women plastic surgeons
My sacrifice in residency allowed us to land in Modesto in 2003
Sacrifice? Well, it wasn’t really that severe. I left my cozy comfortable surgical residency in Cleveland to join her in her hard core Southern Illinois University program. When we finished our 6 years of surgery training, she stated that I should choose where we wanted to live next and that she would just follow. Wow, how nice. I am originally from New York City and I wanted to get away from City life and try my hand at country living. So I initially chose a small wonderful town in Kansas, a town of about 10,000 people. I was all ready to sign the generous contract from that very friendly town and Dr. Wu was all ready to let me sign the contract. Then her wise family got involved and had me think about the benefit of having family close by. The family plan was to get all the Wu siblings into Los Angeles. Because I am flexible and want everyone to be happy. I started the search again for a place to practice in Los Angeles. I actually got job offers in Los Angeles and San Diego, but for some reason I didn’t like those areas (I’m starting to wonder now, if I’d like those areas – but that was back in 2003 when I was making these decisions). Crazy that I turned down a job in San Diego right? Well, the medical recruiter thought so too, as did the program in San Diego who basically slammed the phone down on me after telling me that they had 100 applicants for that position. Oops, I think he got angry.
Then I looked at a town called Reedley and Selma, but I set the hotel on fire (for real) while interviewing and thought that was a bad omen, and broadened out my search, and finally found a wonderful general surgery/trauma surgery job in Modesto, CA. Modesto was a great place for trauma surgery. I was happy with the job, and Dr. Tammy Wu grew her base of patients rapidly in Modesto. And we’ve been happy in Modesto. Because my wife has an extensive list of doctor relatives, we eventually found out that our closest relative (who happens to be a doctor) is in Stockton, California. But alas, no relatives in Modesto, CA. But really, our patients and our team at Surgical Artistry is our extended family.
Almond Orchards in our Backyard in Modesto, CA
We still visit the rest of Dr. Tammy Wu’s family in Los Angeles often. In fact, we even got some jobs with a medically related company in Los Angeles. Dr. Wu became board of directors of the Cooperative of American Physicians, headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, and I got a job in that company too (doesn’t sound as impressive as board of directors – but my position suits me well, I think). In fact, we have a following of Los Angeles patients who come to our office – so that’s great – it’s quite a drive and we require a 1 week hotel stay afterwards, but perhaps they think it’s worth it, and if they do come, we will definitely make it worth it. All the patients and their families that have stayed in Modesto for a week after their surgery think, like we do, that Modesto is a great place.
Christopher Columbus landed in America in 1492 and we landed in Modesto in 2003. There are plenty of strange places in this world to explore and Modesto is our home now.
Where are you from?
No, we really are not from outer space. At least we don’t think so. I’m (Dr. Calvin Lee) from New York. I was born in Queens New York. Dr. Tammy Wu was born in Taipei Taiwan, then came to boarding school in what used to be known as Georgia Military Academy – later named for one of the most influential US generals, Woodward Academy. Then we eventually met at Brown University in 1989. Brown University is in Providence, Rhode Island, part of the New England area of the United States.
I can’t believe you read all the way down here!
Or did you just skip a whole bunch of stuff in the middle. Perhaps Dr. Tammy Wu is right, our rich academic history doesn’t matter, our “results should speak for themselves.” I think it’s also good practice to admit that the wife is right.
We have the highest educational background one could wish for – so we’re thankful for that, and we hope to pass on our educational royalty on to our patients.
Contact us: (209) 551-1888 www.SurgeryToday.com
Side note: Surgery Today is actually a international surgery journal. However I got to the domain name first way back in the 1990’s, so I’m using it for myself. I had no idea that there was a journal named Surgery Today. I just thought it was a good name for our website.