June 23, 2020
Dr. Thomas Leipzig is one of Goodman Campbell’s most experienced neurosurgeons and has been a close colleague and friend to so many of us. Because of this, announcing his retirement this month after 34 years of service to our practice is certainly bittersweet.
But mainly we’re happy for him, and for his family, because now he’ll have the chance to spend even more time with them. He’ll also have more time and energy to pursue some favorite non-medical pastimes, which in the past have taken a back seat to the attention he devotes to his patients, colleagues, and students.
Dr. Leipzig joined Goodman Campbell in 1986 from the University of Chicago Medical Center, in large part because of the reputation and demeanor of our founder, Dr. Julius Goodman.
“Julius was a very forward-thinking guy, and the way they had the practice structured, the way they embraced distinct subspecialization, and the emphasis on evaluating and employing cutting-edge technology and techniques told me that this was a very progressive practice,” Dr. Leipzig said. “My wife was from the Chicago area, so it was a big decision. But this was around the time the Colts had moved to Indianapolis, and the town itself was really starting to have a renaissance. It felt like it would be a good fit.”
It did turn out to be a great fit for Dr. Leipzig—and for Goodman Campbell. “Dr. Leipzig has been a constant, guiding presence in our group for 34 years,” said Goodman Campbell president Dr. Jean-Pierre Mobasser. “His commitment to Goodman Campbell has been evident in everything that he has undertaken throughout the course of his career. He has been loved and respected by patients and partners alike.”
What stands out to Dr. Leipzig about those years? Not just the successful surgeries or cases where patient recoveries were especially remarkable—although there were plenty of those. It was also the teamwork, and the chance to share ideas and expertise back and forth with his colleagues. “Especially when I started out, on the major surgical cases we always scrubbed with another one of our partners,” Dr. Leipzig said. “And I learned a lot because I was always scrubbing with people who had been trained at a different institution.”
“It’s been a hallmark of Goodman Campbell to remain a very democratic group where everyone is viewed as a partner,” he added. “Maybe not formally at first—although we also do a lot to help the younger guys to build up their practices—but we do view them as such. And in most institutions and neurosurgical practices, that is extremely unusual.”
Along with that collegiality, Dr. Leipzig is also struck by the strength of doctor and patient bonds formed over the years, still strong even in cases where medical issues have been long resolved.
“You bump into patients, or they come back for visits,” he said, reflecting on some of the distinctions between neurosurgery and family medicine. “It’s the nature of neurosurgical practice, but in those moments, you realize the impact you’ve had on patients and families, and you realize that you really did save somebody’s life. And that’s a spectacular feeling.”
“As I look at retirement, it hits me more and more the level of trust our patients place in us,” he said. “It has to do with their health and their lives, and to have someone put that kind of trust in you, it really knocks your socks off.”
Goodman Campbell neurosurgeon Dr. Carl Sartorius, who has known Dr. Leipzig since they were in high school together, remarked that Leipzig’s strengths as a surgeon are matched by his intelligence and reflective qualities. “He is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, and respected physicians I have ever met,” Dr. Sartorius said. “As chairman of the Goodman Campbell quality committee for 10 years, I always requested that Tom be on it because of his very wise approach to dealing with quality and peer review issues. It’s difficult to sit in judgment of your peers, and he did it with consistency and fairness. I believe he was the heart and soul of our committee.”
In addition to his committee work and his cases, Dr. Leipzig helped to shepherd Goodman Campbell initiatives such as Goodman Campbell’s service line at ProHealth Care in Wisconsin. Outside the practice, he has long been actively involved with the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and served as director of the AANS Maintenance of Certification Preparation and Neurosurgical Update course. He will continue to have an active role in AANS into his retirement.
“I always did try the hardest that I could, whether it was giving a lecture or doing a surgery,” Dr. Leipzig said. “I may have been smart enough to just walk in and do it—but I always felt I had to be even more prepared, and I always was. I always gave 100 percent.”
In retirement, Dr. Leipzig plans to spend more time with his family and catch up on some reading—of historical fiction in particular—that he hasn’t had a chance to get to in a while.
“We will miss him as he moves onto the next phase of his life, but we wish him all the happiness and relaxation he deserves,” Dr. Mobasser said.
From all of us here at Goodman Campbell, congratulations, Dr. Leipzig, and best wishes on the start of your new journey.