Maggie Hodges, MD, MPH recently joined the UNC Department of Surgery as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Gastrointestinal Surgery. Specialized skills combined with a talent for putting patients and families at ease make her a wonderful addition to the team.
Dr. Maggie Hodges earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and her Master of Public Health in Global Environmental Health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. Her medical training includes a Doctor of Medicine from Emory University School of Medicine, Residency in General Surgery at the University of Colorado, and Fellowship in Foregut /Minimally Invasive Surgery – The Oregon Clinic/Providence Portland Medical Center.
What brought you to the Department of Surgery at UNC?
I’ve been trying to become a part of the UNC family for many years! UNC has a world-renowned reputation as a leader in medicine, global health, clinical research, public health research, and clinical excellence, while also taking seriously the University’s responsibility to the people of North Carolina. This culture of leadership, excellence, and service to others, in a Department dedicated to improving surgical care on the individual and group level, made me thrilled to join the Department of Surgery at UNC!
What inspired you to become a doctor/surgeon?
My grandfather was a plastic surgeon and a poet, and I spent much of my childhood accompanying my mother as she helped care for him. I admired him and was able to witness the tremendous impact he had on the lives of his patients, as many would continue to send him thank you notes many years after he retired. I also saw the outstanding compassion and care with which he was treated by his own physicians as his health deteriorated. As much as I love writing, I found myself drawn to the physical and intellectual challenges of surgery, as well as the ability to make an often immediate and profound difference in the quality of someone’s life.
How did you decide to pursue your current specialty? Has it met your expectations?
During medial school I fell in love with the breadth of surgery-the chance to apply our knowledge of anatomy and physiology to all organ systems. During residency, I was drawn more specifically to the esophagus, stomach, and hiatus (the area where the esophagus enters the abdomen), because it is an area of elegant and complex anatomy, and because our understanding of the physiology and management of common diseases like gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastroparesis, and obesity continues to evolve. I continue to be inspired by the advances in knowledge in our field and the potential to improve someone’s quality and quantity of life through the surgeries we offer.
What profession did you want to be when you were a kid?
As a kid, I wanted to be Indiana Jones-I thought his job was amazing! I think I was fascinated by the mythologies, the archaeology, and the adventures.
What are some goals you would like to achieve during your time at UNC Surgery?
I am really looking forward to working closely with my colleagues within the Department of Surgery and the Division of Gastroenterology to improve the care of our complex foregut and bariatric patients. Whether patients are struggling with reflux, or dysphagia (trouble swallowing), or delayed gastric emptying, or obesity, the effects can be severely lifestyle limiting. We have an outstanding group of surgeons and physicians who are dedicated to improving the care of patients with these conditions, and I really believe in the benefit of a multidisciplinary approach to achieve the best possible patient outcomes.
I also have a background in environmental health; my research interest is focused on the impact that climate change will have on post-operative outcomes and provision of surgical services in our changing climate.
If you give your younger self one piece of advice what would it be?
Lean in and enjoy the ride! Don’t be in such a rush, breathe in the moments and be present. The wonderful thing about a career in medicine, is there is no end to your education, so there is no ‘final’ exam to constantly push toward. We should always be challenging our preconceived notions and looking to push the boundaries of our existing knowledge, and we are surrounded by an incredible group of colleagues and patients who are our best resources in this endeavor. As surgeons we should cherish this incredible trust our patients place in us, and really push ourselves every day to make sure we are focusing our efforts on improving the lives of our patients.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I have an inexplicable love of science fiction and fantasy books, and I can’t wait to share that love of reading with my kids. I love the creativity in the storylines and the worldbuilding, and the hope in the visions of humanity’s potential.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
Spending time with my family, reading, hiking, drawing, and listening to live music. More recently, trying to find creative ways of hiding vegetables in my kids’ food.
How would you describe yourself in one word?
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
Being able to split into multiple versions or clones of myself would be useful-one for having fun, hanging out with the family, cleaning the house, paying bills, operating, doing research, etc. Then we can all recombine at the end of the day to synthesize the information and get some rest!
What is one thing you wish your patients or coworkers knew about you before they meet you?
I have two young children; if I say ‘tummy’ or ‘potty,’ please don’t judge me too harshly! More seriously, I care tremendously about the success of my patients and the success of my partnerships. I want to work with you to set goals that we can achieve together, and I see every patient as an individual. You are never alone in your struggles, and I look forward to sharing the successes with you!
For more information about Dr. Hodges, check out her UNC Surgery faculty profile or UNC Health Care profile (coming soon).