Medical Spotlight: William A. Longo, M.D. (M'77)

Retired Surgeon

"The uniqueness about my experience at Georgetown was the broad range of exposure to a myriad of illnesses in a variety of settings. From the suburbs surrounding Arlington Hospital, to the inner city of D.C. General, to the rare and unusual cases treated at Walter Reed Hospital, I believe the depth of our experience led to a well-rounded and educated physician."

Dr. William Longo (M'77, Parent'01) reflects on his time as a student at Georgetown School of Medicine. Dr. Longo also shares his experiences working as a surgeon in New Zealand after his retirement in 2012. Read the complete interview to learn more.

Please describe your career path after graduation.

After graduation from Georgetown School of Medicine in 1977, I did a 5 year General Surgical Residency at Brown University at Rhode Island Hospital. Upon completion of my residency in 1982 I joined the Middletown Surgical Group in Middletown, Connecticut, where I practiced until the end of 2012. During that time I held many positions at Middlesex Hospital including Chief Section of General Surgery and Chairman of the Department of Surgery. I was also the managing partner of our practice for 25 years.

What led to your decision to move to New Zealand and take a position as a consultant general surgeon at Whakatane Hospital?

My desire to retire led to my decision to take the position in New Zealand. I wanted to step back from the rat race of surgical practice but not stop operating entirely. My wife and I also wished to travel.

Can you please share a little about your experience working in New Zealand? What lessons did you learn and how has this impacted your career and life?

I learned that quality health care is available outside of the United States and it can be delivered at a fraction of the cost of American health care. I worked 40 hours per week, which allowed for a healthier work life balance. It was a welcome relief to be treated with respect and dignity without being put on a pedestal. It was the most wonderful experience of my life. My only regret is that I didn't do it sooner in my career.

Can you please share an experience, relationship or organization at Georgetown that had a meaningful impact on your life and/or career?

My fourth-year clinical rotations in surgery and medicine at Arlington Hospital were the rotations that helped build my confidence and I knew then that I was well prepared for my surgical residency. In particular, I was fortunate to be mentored by Dr. Frank Cardenas in surgery and by Dr. Donald Knowlan in medicine, two outstanding clinicians and educators.

Reflecting back on your time at Georgetown, what do you think is unique about the education and training you received?

The uniqueness about my experience at Georgetown was the broad range of exposure to a myriad of illnesses in a variety of settings. From the suburbs surrounding Arlington Hospital, to the inner city of D.C. General, to the rare and unusual cases treated at Walter Reed Hospital, I believe the depth of our experience led to a well-rounded and educated physician.

What advice would you give to a student interested in specializing in general surgery?

I would tell them to do what they are interested in and not to worry about lifestyle and money. If they are truly happy with what they are doing, then everything else will follow. I realize that this is probably easier said than done but it is a good starting point.

What advice would you give a student interested in working outside of the United States?

I would strongly encourage students to do this, especially during medical school or residency. It will open their eyes as to how foreign health care systems compare to the American system. I think that they will be surprised by how much can be done with less without compromising quality.