Get to Know Dr. David Phillips, Advanced Prostate Cancer Clinic Champion
How and Why Did You Become a Urologist?
When you’re a third-year med student, you don’t have a clue what you want to do, and you have to decide. My decision was based on my urology rotation in San Antonio, where I went to medical school. The residents and professors were all people I thought I’d like to be like. They all treated patients well and were smart and had an interesting job. But most of all, they were happy. Urologists, as a rule, are likeable, happy people. They also do a nice mix of surgery, office and practice. Plus, there’s not a lot of seeing patients when it’s dark outside.
What’s an Average Day Like for You?
My life is not much different from a lot of other urologists. I do seven half days in the office each week and three half days in the operating room. As my career has matured, I’m spending less time in the OR than I used to and am doing fewer big procedures such as removing prostates or bladders. My career has morphed into being more clinic-centric than OR-centric.
What’s Your Favorite Part of Working in Urology?
The thing I have come to cherish most are my relationships with patients. Having been in town almost 30 years, I have taken care of many people and their families, and have gotten to know them well over the last three decades.
I was the founding president of UA for about six years, and was actively involved in getting the company together. I enjoy being in the OR the most, but for the last eight years I’ve been most focused on advanced prostate cancer, which accounts for about 70 percent of my practice. I have been the head champion of our advanced prostate cancer clinic. We help people who are often not curable of the disease because it has spread or because they have had failed treatments.
I’m a curious person who likes to learn, and it’s been an interesting new thing for me to focus on this area, since none of what we’re doing now are things we learned in school. A lot of new treatment options have shown up in last few years, such as systemic therapies, hormone manipulation, various forms of immune and gene therapy, and radiation therapies. Today is a better day to get sick than yesterday.
What’s Your Approach to Patient Care?
I emphasize shared decision making with the patient. It’s all about everyone agreeing to what we are doing. It’s been a long time since I told anyone what to do. I guide them, but shared decision making is what it’s all about now. With APC, it’s definitely a balancing act of benefits vs. side effects. There is a lot of that stuff to discuss, and it’s up to the patient to decide if a treatment is worth doing for a modest benefit.
What Do You Like To Do Outside of Work?
I’ve been married to Sara since 1993, so this year is our 30-year anniversary. We live in central Austin, and have lived on the same lot since we moved here. We have two boys who are 20 and 23, and we were empty nesters until our 23-year-old moved back home temporarily a few weeks ago.
The longer I live, the more I’m happy when I’m outside. I love hiking, fishing and playing tennis. I like to fly fish, especially salt water fly fishing.
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