Paul Brisson, MD, MS, FACS, FAAP

Paul Brisson, MD, MS, FACS, FAAP

Graduation Date: 1982
United States

Dr. Paul Brisson has dedicated nearly 30 years to caring for others, including 20 years in private practice as a general and pediatric surgeon at St. Clare’s Hospital in Schenectady, New York, where he also served as Chair, Department of Surgery.  Despite all of this commendable experience, it was during the past year that his skills and training have been of great consequence and personal impact:  Dr. Brisson recently spent 90 days as a combat surgeon in Iraq.

In September 2003, on the heels of arguably one of our nations most desperate and tumultuous times, Dr. Brisson volunteered for the United States Army Reserves.  In January 2008, like countless others, Lieutenant Colonel Brisson left his family, home and established career, and began a 90-day tour of duty in a forward operating base just south of Baghdad.

Dr. Brisson described those 90 days as ‘incredibly rewarding,’ performing high level damage control surgery to the critically injured.  With many US soldiers returning home in 2008, Dr. Brisson explained that many of his patients were Iraqi soldiers and civilians, and that his expertise as a pediatric surgeon was in frequent need.  “It was clear that the Iraqi healthcare system was not equipped to care for the volume and severity of injured,” said Dr. Brisson, “and the Iraqi people were incredibly gracious and appreciative of the United States’ efforts.”

This is not Dr. Brisson’s first time serving the United States government.  For several years, just after receiving his Bachelor of Science from East Tennessee State University, he worked for the Indian Health Service, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services responsible for providing federal health services to American Indians and Alaska Natives.  Dr. Brisson explained that an unexpected incident at a local rabies clinic actually sparked his interest in medicine. “It is ironic, particularly as a surgeon, that injecting a dog during a rabies clinic forced me to not only face my lifelong fear of needles, but actually got me thinking about a career in medicine,” he said.  He noted that even his family was surprised by his ability to conquer this genuine anxiety and often teased him, albeit proudly, about his ultimate choice of careers.

Throughout his career, Dr. Brisson has dedicated much of his time to many foreign humanitarian projects.  In 2005 he founded Laparoscopy International™, an organization which supplies laparoscopic training and donates surgical equipment to third world countries.  In fact, Grenada Hospital is one of the many facilities which has benefited from Dr. Brisson’s work.   According to Dr. C.V. Rao, Dean of Students, he has been a tremendous asset to the Island and the University, donating well-needed medical equipment to the local hospital.

Additionally, Dr. Brisson has worked extensively in the Dominican Republic, returning to the Caribbean nation twice a year for the last 12 years performing what he refers to as ‘simple, yet life-altering surgical procedures to a very prideful, grateful and needy community.’  Dr. Brisson’s children have accompanied him on several occasions, a wonderful and thought-provoking opportunity, he explained, as they not only learned to appreciate another culture, but actually participated in the mission to assist the local communities.

Since his return from Iraq in July, Dr. Brisson has been serving an extended tour at the DeWitt Army Hospital at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.  He is soon to be reunited with his wife and daughter who will remain in Northern Virginia until his tour is completed, a term which can last indefinately. Dr. Brisson’s son, Michael, is also in the army, training to become a helicopter pilot.  He plans to follow his father’s path of practicing medicine, and has expressed interest in attending his father’s alma mater.