It is 11:45 on a Thursday morning, and Buena Vista Regional Medical Center general surgeon Dr. Troy Ivey has already had a busy day.
Ivey, the only general surgeon at BVRMC, has performed three surgeries (one gallbladder and two hernia operations), reviewed medical notes on patients, dictated a number of reports onto the hospital's tape-recording phone and has made rounds around the hospital, visiting with those he and other doctors have performed medical procedures on in the past few days.
That's all before an afternoon which will include a surgery to correct vaginal bleeding in an elderly resident and several visits with former and future patients in his Ontario Street office.
It's all a part of the job for Ivey, who has been practicing medicine in Storm Lake for the past eight years. A graduate of Iowa State University and the Des Moines University of Osteopathic medical school, the Perry native said he thoroughly enjoys being able to help the residents of the Storm Lake area with their medical concerns.
"I really love what I do," Ivey said. "I can honestly say I don't know what else I would be doing if I weren't doing surgery. I really do enjoy the work."
After graduating from medical school, Ivey did surgery training in both a Chicago hospital and in the Michigan State University system. He then left East Lansing for Storm Lake, and has been in northwest Iowa ever since.
Ivey said one of the biggest differences between working at a large medical center such as Michigan State and a smaller one such as BVRMC is that there are a smaller number of people who are available to meet the surgical needs and emergencies of the community.
However, the limited amount of personnel has opened the door for Ivey to perform a wide variety of medical procedures for many different patients.
"At a university setting, for example, there are so many other residents and medical students working with you, and here you're kind of by yourself," Ivey said. "But, the nice thing about being here by yourself is that you're able to do a wider range of surgeries. I'm not limited to just colon or gallbladder surgeries, for example, but I've been able to do a much broader range of procedures."
Ivey's surgical duties at BVRMC include operations dealing with the colon, appendix, gallbladder, thyroid and breast (biopsies and mastectomies) and delivering babies via Caesarean-section.
Ivey, who has four children, Catie, Michael, Bobby and Emily, with wife Grace, said one of the best parts of being a surgeon is being able to view swift improvement in a patient following an operation.
"I think the best part about surgery is that you usually have fairly immediate or quick improvement in a patient," Ivey said. "There are quick results. If somebody comes in with appendicitis, you take their appendix out and they get better. That's what I like about surgery. You can intervene and you can take care of the problem right away."
Ivey, who normally performs 10 to 12 operations per week, said the number of hours he spends per week at his job varies, but said he is in the hospital every day to either make rounds with patients, fill out paperwork or perform surgeries.
"People might think that we're home for the weekend too, but this is really a seven-day-a-week job," Ivey said. "You put in a lot of hours, but it's gratifying from the standpoint that people appreciate your care for them."
While there are many challenges with the job, Ivey said he feels fortunate to be able to do what he loves for a living, and touch people's lives daily.
"There isn't a day that goes by that we don't encounter something that has difficulties," Ivey said. "You just try to do your best for each patient every time and realize you're making a difference in people's lives."