After spending 15 years in a private practice in Valdosta, Georgia, Dr. Curt Starling decided to join the team at Sterling Physician Group, located in Moultrie, Georgia. The orthopedic surgeon, who hails from Hahira, Georgia, said his field of study is one he has always been truly happy with.
Starling began with his undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia and then worked his way up to medical school at Emory University. After finishing his residency at Emory, he took on a fellowship in arthroscopy and sports medicine at the University of Tennessee/Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic.
Orthopedic medicine had been on Starling’s radar throughout his schooling. He said there are many reasons for why he believes his field offers what he considers to be the kind of medical practice that has it all.
“(It’s) hands on, mechanical, technical, challenging, and offers a very wide array of day-to-day pathology to treat, encompassing the entire musculoskeletal system, and a varied patient demographic… children, young adults, older adults, athletes, trauma victims, etc.,” he said.
Despite spending 15 years in a private practice, Starling is no stranger to other groups and business models. Over a 20-plus-year career, he has been with large ones, such as the Hughston Clinic; medium practices like his four-partnered group in Lynchburg, Virginia; and small, shared-overhead practices in the Valdosta area.
The practice of orthopedics, like all medical fields, is constantly changing and adapting with new innovations and discoveries. Starling explained that the field could benefit from smaller private practices merging with larger practices and hospitals.
“Medicine and the practice of orthopedics are changing,” he said. “I think most orthopedic surgeons over the next decade will be aligned with hospitals, or if they practice in major urban metropolitan areas, possibly mega-practices with 100-plus providers.”
Starling decided to come to Sterling Physician Group for many reasons; he likes what they have to offer, and the location suits him.
“Although I trained in a major metropolitan urban area, I find a smaller, rural area practice more rewarding now,” Starling said. “I made the decision to try a hospital-employed practice, and Sterling Physician Group seemed to be a great fit after discussion with the administration and staff.”
Another aspect is the amount of patients he gets to see in a day and the variety of cases that walk through his doors. Starling described what a typical day at the clinic might be, with changing circumstances and patients to keep him on his toes.
“I see patients of all ages and with varying pathology,” he said. “I may evaluate a high school or middle school athlete in one exam room and their grandmother in the next on an average clinic day.”
When it comes to operations, Starling faces just as large of a variety of injuries.
“In the operating room, I may be doing an ACL reconstruction on a soccer player and then turn around and perform a hip or knee replacement on a senior citizen, followed by a trip to the ER to see a child with an elbow fracture or a patient injured in an industrial accident,” Starling said. “I like the variety and feel I get to extract from all my years of training. I would be bored doing the same procedure or evaluating the same type of patient every day.”
Starling may treat injured athletes and older patients with arthritis, but that does not stop him from still having a passion for outdoor fitness. Along with being an auto enthusiast at tracks all over the Southeast, he also enjoys cycling, running, swimming, and lifting weights in his free time.
On the work side of things, Starling is enjoying his time being a part of the team at Sterling Physician Group. He said that it is much more than his patients and orthopedic medicine; it’s the hospital and staff itself too.
“Administration, staff, and peer physicians are all great to work with,” he said. “It’s a wonderfully upbeat environment. Patients really notice it and appreciate it.”
As a surgeon at Sterling Physician Group, Starling practices exclusively at Colquitt Regional Medical Center. Colquitt Regional recently received its tenth ‘A’ for patient safety from The Leapfrog Group. They are the only hospital in the region to achieve ten consecutive ‘A’ ratings. They also recently recieved recertification by The Joint Commission for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement for the second consecutive certification period.
Written by: Alex Dunn