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Hi I'm Dennis

I'm a Mormon. I am a 5th generation Arizonan. I'm a spine surgeon, teacher, and researcher. I ride quad motorcycles in the desert.

About Me

I love the intricacy and harmony of God's greatest creation: the human body. I decided I wanted to become a doctor after learning about the different organ systems in biology class in high school. The idea that from the same set of chromosomes could come such diverse tissue as heart, nerve, and bone amazed me. That fascination continued through my undergraduate and medical school studies. Learning about such an incredible thing as life never grew old, no matter how long the days or late the nights in the library. Education and learning have always been important to me and my family. Teaching has long been a part of our family tradition, with my grandmother, mother, sister, aunts and uncles all career teachers and principals in public schools. My wife's great great grandfather was one of the founders of public education in Arizona under its first territorial governor. A love of learning seems to require an open and inquisitive mind. Being in mid-career, doing the same types of things I have done for years no longer gives me the same level of satisfaction it used to. The thing that gets me going in the morning is a drive to innovate, invent, create, and refine the way we care for our patients. I satisfy my need to be on the cutting edge (so to speak) by being actively involved in clinical research into better ways we can treat back pain, spinal deformity, nerve compression, and other topics.

Why I am a Mormon

It would be easy for me to go with the flow of family tradition and remain numbered among the Mormons, like my ancestors before me. One big problem: I am fiercely independent with a rational, measured, evidence-based mind. I am skeptical of zealots, reject half truths, and am always looking for the real story. The scientific method is unconsciously applied to most all of the questions I face in life. My choices are based on the arguements or data. Believing in God is actually not in conflict with my usual thought pattern. As a 19 year-old college student, I needed to know for myself that God was real, that He cared about me, and that His church was present and available for me to attend and to learn from. After considerable and earnest prayer, I received a clear and unmistakable feeling within my mind and heart that these things were true. My next question was whether I was in the right place, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Again, the answer was mistakable and affirmative. I have had many such experiences in answer to prayers about my family, career, and important decisions I have faced. I regularly recieve answers to my prayers, often on a daily basis. Often the impressions are simple: that God knows me, is aware of my concerns, and He loves me. Funny thing, I know these spiritual truths with the same confidence that I know the results of our clinical research. The answers is just as clear to me though they come through a feeling rather than seeing or hearing. From a practical perspective, having a guiding framework such as the church is hugely valuable to me in my roles as husband, father, grandfather, etc. Family is the most important thing in my live. As a protective father, I will do anything for my family. Help from inspired leaders and personal answers to prayer are invaluable to me. I find peace in the council I give and the decisions I make for my family as confirmed through answers to prayer, and by following God's prophet.

How I live my faith

I think true christian discipleship requires that we reach out to those who are neediest among us, and lift where we can. I try my best to do just that. I have been involved in teaching both young people and adults in Sunday School for many years. I have served as a Boy Scout Troop Committee chairman, and in leadership of my ward (local leadership group for the local congregation). I want to be counted among the "doers of the word", and not just among the "hearers". Recognizing some significant needs among people with spinal disorders, I organized and run a not-for-profit spine research and education foundation. The Foundation's purpose and function is three fold: 1) support research on spinal disorders and treatments, 2) support local and national education and support group efforts on spine topics, 3) provide college scholarships for young people who have undergone spinal deformity surgery and want to attend college. The Foundation supports several research projects, funds several community outreach meetings, and grants several college scholarships to deserving students every year. In our neighborhood, I have helped plan our Halloween party for several years now. Both my wife and I are active in supporting political candidates and causes that are consistant with honor, integrity, and patriotism. We are active in the booster club for our local high school and support their extracurricular activities and sports teams. My wife works in a volunteer organization that prepares thousands of weekend sack lunches for underprivileged kids in our area who would otherwise go hungry on the weekend. I think a person's faith is evident in his or her actions. The Savior reminded Peter to "feed my sheep". The sheep in my community have many needs. I want to do what I can to make a meaningful impact on the quality of life of my neighbors and friends. This kind of work doesn't seem like work at all. It is fun, fulfilling, and it is an expression of my faith.