New York City plastic surgeon Scot Glasberg, MD—the current president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)—is a wanted man. His time, attention, and services are much in demand by patients, colleagues, and the media, and it’s practice manager Alexandra Guzman who makes sure he gets where he needs to be when he needs to be there.
For the past 5 years, Guzman has been charged with keeping Glasberg’s schedule and keeping him on schedule. It was always a busy practice, but this year has been the most hectic to date largely due to Glasberg’s increased responsibilities as the ASPS president.
“There always something to do,” she says. “The phones ring constantly.” On any given morning, a journalist may call looking for Glasberg’s comments on the plastic surgery trend du jour, from the rise of vaginal rejuvenation to the dangers of the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge and/or the annual ASPS Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. You name the topic, Glasberg is the go-to guy for media this year.
There is also a lot of society business that needs tending to, and ASPS members and staff call throughout the day seeking Glasberg’s opinion or direction on all sorts of matters. Then there are the patients, who always come first, she says.
Yes, Glasberg’s popularity affects appointments. “I try to squeeze everyone in, which means longer and busier days for all of us, especially if it is a month that he is traveling,” Guzman says.
“The ASPS president’s role is very demanding, and quick responses are often necessary,” says Heather Gates, director of communications at ASPS. “We can always rely on Alex to assist us in scheduling Dr Glasberg’s time and helping us to meet constant deadlines—while always putting the needs of patients as the first priority—which we admire greatly.”
A Day in the Life
Guzman’s day begins at 9 am, and appointments start promptly at 9:15 am. “I take the phones off service, set up the treatment rooms, and then check in our patients and escort them to their designated rooms,” she says.
While Glasberg does a lot of cosmetic work, many patients come in seeking breast reconstruction following a cancer diagnosis or a prophylactic mastectomy to reduce their risk of ever developing breast cancer. Guzman has become especially skilled in making these patients feel comfortable from the first phone call on.
“I am sensitive due to what they are dealing with and will do everything I can to accommodate them,” she says. “The consultations are longer because these patients often have a lot of questions, and Dr Glasberg explains everything to them.”
The initial intake is also more involved. “We ask them if and when they had a mastectomy, whether or not this is a revision procedure, primary reconstruction, or reconstruction following a prophylactic mastectomy,” she says. “Medical history, including how and when the breast cancer was found, is also a part of the process, along with collecting relevant documents such as the pathology reports.”
Guzman also handles the insurance for breast reconstruction patients—and fortunately, the overwhelming majority of insurers cover reconstruction without any hassle, thanks in large part to the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998. This Act requires health plans that offer breast cancer coverage to also provide for breast reconstruction and prostheses.
“Alex truly embraces the fact that caring for patients starts long before the first appointment,” Glasberg says. “When patients put their trust in a surgeon’s hands, it’s the responsibility of the entire team to assure patients that they have made the right choice for them. This happens through every staff member demonstrating patience and compassion at every stage of care—consultation to recovery. I can always rely on Alex to be that person for all our patients.”
Denise Mann is the editor of Plastic Surgery Practice. She can be reached at [email protected].