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November 30, 2002

Conversations with... Brian Novinska

From: Portage County Gazette, WI - 30, Nov. 2002

of The Gazette
Dr. Brian Novinska is one of the newer doctors on staff at St. Michael's Hospital in Stevens Point. Unlike the others, he's a Stevens Point native who returned to his hometown to begin his career.

Dr. Novinska, a son of David Novinska and the late Charlene Novinska, went to kindergarten at Jefferson School, then went to Washington School for first through third grades because of a hearing disability. He was in Emerson School for fourth and fifth grades, at St. Stanislaus School for sixth through eighth grades, went to P.J. Jacobs Junior High School for a year and then attended Stevens Point Area Senior High School, graduating in 1988.

He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry. After working in a lab for a year, he went to medical school at the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., and served his internship as an anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

He and his wife, Kristin, have three children, Madeline, 5, Hannah, 3, and Samuel, 6 months.

Gazette: What does an anesthesiologist do?

Dr. Novinska: "Basically, he assists a surgeon in making a person pain-free during an operation. An anesthesiologist can give a patient everything from a light sedative, a heavy sedative, a block or just put them to sleep. We try to assess what level of anesthesia will work during surgery, plus will give shots for people in pain."

Gazette: What made you decide to go into anesthesiology?

Dr. Novinska: "I think the biggest thing for me was going to medical school. Anesthesiology is so much technology. You get to be in the operating room, watching the surgeon. You give specific drugs to monitor, you see the drugs work.

"I wanted the skills to help people. It's really gratifying for me to help patients."

Gazette: Did you have any classes or teachers that inspired you to go into the field?

Dr. Novinska: I wanted to go into the medical field since high school. I think the biggest thing that really inspired me was reading "The Family Health Guide," a book with a blue cover that my family had. I would read it for fun when I was 11 or 12.

"When it came time to choose a career in high school, I just said I was going to do that. Medicine is a science, and I was always interested in science. I also had a chemistry set that I played with.

"I like interacting with people and medicine is good for that. Going into medicine has always been kind of a given for me, all through high school."

Gazette: You've had a hearing problem since your youth. How have you overcome that?

Dr. Novinska: "Hearing has been my biggest challenge, the biggest barrier I've had to come to terms with. I've had so many people help me along the way.

"I had meningitis when I was less than a year old and am totally deaf in my right ear and 40 to 60 percent deaf in my left ear. I went to Washington School where they helped me to adapt by using a hearing aid and do lip-reading.

"When I was a kid, because of peer pressure, I sometimes didn't wear my hearing aid full time. When I got to college and had to take notes and dictate, then I wore it all the time.

"In medical school at Rochester, I had a really great bunch of people who helped me with buying an amplified stethoscope. They had counselors for me to help with hearing, and I had help with note taking. They helped me a lot that way.

"At Mayo Clinic, I had the full backing of the staff there and they helped to keep the communication going."

Gazette: Why did you decide to come back to Stevens Point?

Dr. Novinska: "I could have gone pretty much anywhere I wanted. There's a lot of job opportunities for anesthesiologists.

"It's kind of funny. The group here was looking for anesthesiologists. I decided to just check out Stevens Point and call, and at the same time I got a call from a recruiter saying there was a job here.

"I have so many friends and family here that it would have been the greatest thing to come back. The people here in Stevens Point, everyone is so nice and helpful.

"The operating room can be a hostile environment with the stress. At St. Michael's it amazes me how everyone gets along so well.

"It's a great place to raise a family. It's safe to be here. You can get into a conversation with anybody and no one thinks anything of it. On the East Coast everyone was suspicious. And other places in the country are also different.

"My wife Kristin grew up in Minnesota but she taught at Almond-Bancroft and liked this area. We met at Rainbow Falls (Family Park). She worked there and I worked at the go-cart track."

2002 © Portage County Gazette