Meet our Docs: Aimee Gough, M.D., brings colon and rectal surgery to patients across Wyoming
By Kristy Bleizeffer Oct 9, 2018
Wyoming Medical Center welcomes colon and rectal surgeon Aimee E. Gough, M.D., to Wyoming Surgical Associates in Casper.
Dr. Gough is board certified in general surgery and recently completed a fellowship in colon and rectal surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif. She is the only colorectal specialist in Wyoming, and she is excited to offer her services to patients across the state.
Read more about Dr. Gough in the “Meet Our Docs” interview below.
Where did you grow up, and how did you become interested in medicine?
I grew up in a little town in Montana, south of Livingston, called Emigrant. It only had 400 people or so, and was a wonderful place to grow up. As for medicine – in high school and college, I was studying chemistry with plans to work in a lab. I really enjoyed the science aspect, but I felt like with most kinds of research or drug development, you wouldn’t be able to see the effects of your work helping people for many years, if ever. I realized I wanted to find a way to use my science background to help people more directly. Medicine seemed like a perfect way to achieve that goal.
Had you or anyone in your family had a significant exposure to hospitals or specialists before med school?
No, neither of my parents are in medicine. To see if I would enjoy the medical field, I volunteered at a hospital near where I went to college, and then I trained as an EMT to gain experience in emergency situations. I really enjoyed both of those experiences, so I concluded that medicine would be a good fit for me.
Why did you want to become a surgeon?
I think the same logic that took me from studying chemistry to pursuing medicine, led me into surgery. Surgery is an even more immediate and hands-on way to make a positive difference for someone who is ill. To be able to use my knowledge and training to perform an operation that helps a patient get better is such a privilege, and having the improvement be so immediate makes the field very personally rewarding.
As for colon and rectal surgery, I enjoyed being able to specialize my practice, but still be able to offer a wide variety of procedures to patients of all ages. Plus, colon and rectal conditions can be complicated and fascinating, and there are so many new treatment options available. In addition, the majority of colorectal surgeons are men. Some female patients tell me they are relieved to be able to discuss having a colonoscopy or conditions like hemorrhoids with a female surgeon, so I felt entering the specialty was a way to really make a difference in the field.
Tell us about your training.
My residency was in general surgery, and I made sure to learn the basics well, because I knew that I wanted to go back to a small city somewhere in the West in the mountains. Even though I was going to be a specialist in colon and rectal surgery, I knew I wanted to be able to offer care for trauma, breast cancer, or hernias, for example, and to be comfortable working in a rural area. So the broad spectrum of general surgery was my focus for five years.
The past year I have gone through intensive colon and rectal surgery training, learning new techniques and working with the experts at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Colorectal surgery is a specialty that includes care for colon and rectal cancer, diverticulitis, inflammatory diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, plus common conditions like hemorrhoids. Specialty care for these conditions can be difficult to find in smaller towns and cities – prior to my arrival there had not been a colorectal surgeon in Wyoming for several years. There is one colorectal surgeon in western Montana, so really the closest specialists were all the way down in Colorado, so I’m very excited to be bring colorectal care to Wyoming.
What has you most excited about your specialty right now? What advancements are on the horizon?
Everything is getting more and more minimally invasive. I have trained in robotic surgery, so I will be able to use the hospitals Da Vinci robot for rectal cancer and other cases. We are also making significant progress in improving post-surgical care that allows patients to have less pain, need less pain medication, be able to eat food sooner and even go home more rapidly.
What do you think of Casper so far?
The town itself is exactly what I was looking for. Living in Los Angeles for a year definitely confirmed that I’m meant to be a small-town person, and Casper fits the bill. I love the pace of life here, the access to the outdoors, friendly neighbors but still having a variety of options for entertainment, shopping and restaurants. My wife and I visited twice before coming, and we are in love with the area.
From the medical center perspective, Casper is a healthcare hub for the majority of the state. Wyoming Medical Center has more specialists, more capabilities and can offer more specialty care than most towns of Casper’s size. I was happy to learn that we have high-quality MRI, radiation oncology, neurosurgeons, and a trauma program, just to name a few. I think the quality and breadth of care that patients can get here is beyond what one might usually find in a town the size of Casper.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Growing up in Montana, we hiked and backpacked, and I am excited to get back to that. I don’t know how to fish, but I am sure I can find one or 30 people who can get me started. In the winter, I’m definitely going to bundle up and snowshoe and ski up on the mountain. The outdoor opportunities in Casper are incredible!