Beth Peterson, M.D.
General Surgeon, Vice Chief of Staff, Trauma Medical Director
Pursuing a medical career has been a life-long dream for Dr. Beth Peterson. Today, she works as a general surgeon at Wadley Regional Medical Center, CHRISTUS St. Michael’s, and Texarkana Surgery Center. She is also a partner at Collom and Carney Clinic and serves as Wadley’s Vice Chief of Staff and Trauma Medical Director. “I have wanted to be a surgeon since I was four. I spent a month in the hospital and came away knowing that surgery is what I wanted to do,” Dr. Peterson says. “I wanted to get to know people and make a difference in their lives just like the physicians and nurses who cared for me. I still get cards from one of the nurses who cared for me 34 years ago.”
For Dr. Peterson, a healthcare career is not just a job or profession, especially in fields like surgery. “It can become your life,” Dr. Peterson says. “The technical execution of precise surgeries and the beauty of anatomy drive me to keep up an often demanding schedule.”
In the future of medicine, Dr. Peterson says that we will undoubtedly continue to see new technologies that make surgeries less invasive and more precise. “I think we will see an integration of advanced imaging technologies to surgical platforms to assist intraoperative decision-making and improve outcomes with quicker recovery times for patients,” Dr. Peterson says. “I also hope we see changes across healthcare to decrease the high levels of moral injury in our teams. I hope that changes will refocus healthcare system priorities to more patient-centered goals and less on the business of medicine with its associated check-box metrics. I believe that the future of healthcare is bright when it is led by patients and their physicians, not private equity. We need to ensure that medicine stays patient-focused so that our loved ones have the best care in the future.”
The great lessons Dr. Peterson has learned as a surgeon came from being both a patient and a patient’s family member. Her aunt was diagnosed with rectal cancer while Dr. Peterson worked on her residency. “She and my uncle had retired and were traveling in their motorhome when she began having problems. They came to visit me, and she was diagnosed a week later. Their travel plans had to be put on hold, and I got the privilege of them staying with me throughout her initial chemo radiation, surgery, and more chemotherapy,” Dr. Peterson says. “I often treat rectal cancer, but living it from the family’s side was an eye opening experience that helped me grow as a physician. I am elated to say that she is thirteen years disease free.”
Looking back at her professional career thus far, Dr. Peterson is proud of becoming a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and developing a fulfilling practice providing cutting-edge care. As far as her personal life is concerned, Beth is proud of the horses she has raised with the help of her family. “We have a few born here and are now starting on successful competition careers,” Dr. Peterson says. “I am not a big talker unless you get me talking about my horses.”
Dr. Peterson’s future goals include developing a local gastric stimulator program for patients suffering from gastroparesis, a condition where the stomach does not empty properly. This can lead to chronic nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, which can be very debilitating. “We have high rates of gastroparesis in the Arklatex associated with the high incidence of diabetes here. Historically these gastroparesis patients have been treated medically with varying degrees of success. Now some patients who fail medical management are candidates for surgically placed gastric stimulators. Studies show that most of these patients significantly reduce their symptoms and that we also see improvements in cellular functions within the GI tract and in the brain over time,” Dr. Peterson says. “It is a technology that I find very fascinating. We have completed the regulatory process for an approved gastric stimulator program and our initial implants. I hope to see this program grow and improve patients’ lives.”
No matter what the future holds, Dr. Peterson wants to continue to use her knowledge and expertise to better the lives of her patients and the people in this community. She says that the best part of her job as a surgeon is that she can often change patients’ lives for the better in a matter of days or weeks. “Getting to know my patients and becoming part of their journey is a blessing. The gratitude of my patients inspires me,” Dr. Peterson says. “It never seems to fail that when I have a rough time, a patient or family member reminds me of the privilege it is to care for others.”
1. I am passionate aboutHORSES!
2. My favorite place to eat in Texarkana is Los Ruvalcaba, and I always order enchiladas potosinas with steak.
3. The best tipfor staying healthy is to develop a passion that keeps you active and spend at least 15 minutes daily tending to that love.
4. If I could create a magical prescription drug, it would cure hate because we need less division and more compassion for our fellow humans.
5. Most people don’t know that I love to two-step.