Our office party to celebrate Dr. Fisk’s fifteenth anniversary with Tepeyac provided us a great opportunity to wheedle an interview. When we asked for the story behind his long and valued tenure, he was happy to share.
Interviewer: Fifteen years is a longer time than most people nowadays spend with any one employer. How did it all begin? What first inspired you to consider working with Tepeyac and what convinced you actually to make the move?
Dr. Fisk: I spent the first several years of training and practice serving the nation in the US Army, and was obligated to complete a seven-year tour of duty due to the various scholarship programs in which I had participated. I actually ended up serving 11 1⁄2 years on active duty, the last several at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, from which post I ended my military service.
When I left the service in 2000, I initially joined a practice in Fairfax that was well-established, busy, and quite secular. During the approximately two and a half years I practiced with them, I became increasingly uncomfortable with several aspects of this practice, especially in the moral realm, but also with the obsession with profits. I felt that this situation wasn’t honoring or pleasing to God, and I was sincere about practicing in a way–consistent with the faith upon which I based my life and life’s work.
During my job search upon leaving the service, I had heard of John Bruchalski but had given little thought to joining a practice like his at the time. I met him on the first day of work at INOVA Fair Oaks Hospital, and quickly realized who he was. We talked many times over the next few months, usually late at night on Labor & Delivery or over lunch. Gradually, I came to understand that he and I shared similar convictions about our faith impacting how we practiced. As I was naturally pro-life-oriented, his approach appealed to me deeply.
After several months of back and forth, John called me at home one night and asked if I would ever consider joining them at Tepeyac…after a few months…I joined the group on March 5, 2003. I’ve never looked back.
Interviewer: From the outset, Tepeyac employees know that work for a nonprofit organization will require considerable sacrifice beyond what is usually asked of healthcare personnel. Can you cite a few examples, or milestones in your Tepeyac service. Or events in patient care that make that level of sacrifice to which you agreed initially worthwhile?
Dr. Fisk: Many come to mind, even from the beginning. I think of the myriad [Infant Loss] memorial services we have had over the years, all uniformly moving and reverential. I also remember the overwhelming outpouring of support we received shortly after I joined, when the malpractice insurance crisis in 2004 – 2005 nearly forced [Tepeyac] into bankruptcy. Our donors came to the rescue and contributed thousands to help us pay those bills—truly a memorable time. I recall many, many referrals from Crisis Pregnancy Centers and Gabriel Project, Arlington, of women who were abortion-minded, -susceptible, or -contemplating due to financial concerns, many of whom went on to bring new life into the world. I also think of [forming] the Perinatal Hospice Program and of all the parents and families we have cared for through the years—remarkable stories, all.
Interviewer: From every employer, ideally, we learn. What aspects of work with Tepeyac resulted in professional growth and greater knowledge for you?
Dr. Fisk: Many of the things that I have learned are faith-based in nature, especially the language and practice of the culture of life. Natural Family Planning is, quite honestly, totally unknown to most secular OB/GYNs. Non-contracepting forms of treatment of gynecologic conditions have been very prominent as well. Caring for those in the Perinatal Hospice Program and those who have children in utero with other special needs (e.g., Down Syndrome or other non-life-threatening malformations) is an area of rich development….
Interviewer: What was the greatest professional or medical challenge you encountered during your years with Tepeyac?
Dr. Fisk: Two-fold. First is the challenge to my character. Practicing medicine in this (or any) environment reveals aspects of character that are underdeveloped or needing refinement, such as patience, restraint, diplomacy, tact, wisdom, consistent faithfulness, courage and perseverance. Dealing with oneself is more of a challenge in many respects than are all the academics and technicalities…combined.
The other regards managing the business of medical practice, about which very little is taught in medical school and residency. The challenge of being diligent, vigilant, faithful, frugal and responsible has to rank a close second and to enmesh with that which I mentioned previously, extending to the practicalities of professional medical practice.
Interviewer: What do you consider to be your greatest contribution to Tepeyac?
Dr Fisk: My most significant contribution, I believe, [has been] stabilizing the practice and making it more viable, just due to being another pro-life OB/GYN. Drs. Bruchalski and Anderson were really struggling to keep up with the demands of a busy practice when I arrived fifteen years ago. [My joining as a third provider] brought them some well-deserved relief. Having a critical mass of providers also helped recruit others, as it seemed to [indicate] a more sustainable venture.
[Also]…coming from a non-Catholic tradition, I bring a different perspective. This has been much less problematic than most would realize, as it is plain to all of us at Tepeyac that what unites us far outweighs whatever would divide us in service to Almighty God and His kingdom.