For most of his young life, Samuel Critides, II, MD, says he planned on becoming a neurosurgeon.
“My father was a neurosurgeon, so from my earliest days I had a role model,” says Critides. “I loved the idea of doing brain surgery and performing spinal reconstruction. I enjoyed the technical aspects of becoming a ‘spinal carpenter.’”
He and his wife, Maricarmen, and four children recently moved to this area from Pensacola, Fla., where he served as a neurosurgeon and medical director of the Gamma Knife Center at Sacred Heart Hospital. Critides completed medical school at the University of Medicine of New Jersey, is board certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgeons, and is a retired commander in the U.S. Navy.
As a way to help with the costs of school, Critides joined the Navy, though his interest in the military started when he was a child. Growing up, he watched many war movies and he says he loved the esprit de corps of the military.
“In particular, I was mesmerized by watching Marines, and I gave serious thought to becoming a Marine during my college days,” he says. “Eventually, I spoke to a Marine recruiter, who told me the Marines didn’t have ‘doctors’ but had navy doctors and corpsmen assigned to them. So I put aside the dream of being a Marine to become a doctor.”
While in the Navy, Critides volunteered to serve with the Marines. And although his commitment to the Navy only required him to serve two years, he found that wasn’t enough.
“The attention to detail, the respect for tradition, the sense of purpose and the commitment to excellence, were so infectious that it inspired me, and gave me focus and purpose in my own life,” says Critides.
He ended up serving 20 years in the military, part of that serving as medical director for the Wounded Warrior Regiment of the U.S. Marine Corps. He was also deployed to Haiti on an earthquake relief mission where he performed more than 60 urgent neurosurgical procedures.
Neurosurgery, like most areas of medicine, continues to change and adapt as newer treatments become available.
“I think one of the greatest innovations in neurosurgery has been the ability to use technology to develop and execute precise surgical treatments with a great deal of accuracy and reliability,” Critides says.
He says he is particularly optimistic about the effectiveness of stereotactic radiosurgery (form of radiation therapy focusing high-power energy on a small area of the body with extreme accuracy) in the treatment of tumors, spinal disk replacements and spinal cord stimulators.
Outside of neurosurgery, Critides enjoys working with his hands, doing small home projects. He enjoys debating history, philosophy, religion and sociology, and has an eclectic music taste, including 40s big band, crooners, punk/alternative, country and opera. He enjoys boating, fishing, mentoring and coaching, both academically and athletically.
A Christian, he says he enjoys learning more about his walk with God through everyday events.
“As a neurosurgeon, I am in a unique position where I am called upon to minister to people who are acutely and gravely ill,” he says. “I enjoy the opportunity to help the families of my patients with the grieving associated with the end of life.”
He says physical fitness is an important part of his life.
“I guess I learned, or perhaps reinforced, that it is important to maintain a healthy mind and body from my time with the Marines,” he says. “Although totally different kinds of athletes, my wife and I have imparted to our children the sense of being athletic and hardening yourself through daily exercise and competition.”
Most of all, he says, he enjoys the companionship of my wife and the fellowship of their four children and five dogs.