Know Your Heroes: Dean Elterman

Name: Dean Elterman
Title: Urologic Surgeon
Number of years working in health care: 10
I was born and raised in: Vancouver, BC

I decided to get into health care because I gravitated to the sciences at an early age and became fascinated with surgery. I would watch medical/surgical shows on TLC when I was in elementary school. The rest is history.

My role here at UHN is to restore function in people suffering from urologic conditions. I sub-specialize in functional urology, which encompasses conditions such as overactive bladder, urinary retention, urinary incontinence, benign prostate enlargement (BPH) and sexual dysfunction. I also have roles as the Fellowship Director in Functional Urology at UHN’s Toronto Western Hospital and as the Medical Director of the Sexual Health Clinic at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

The thing I love the most about my job is being able to offer state-of-the-art treatments which are not available anywhere else. We have the largest sacral neuromodulation (bladder and bowel pacemaker) program in Canada. We also have numerous ways to treat prostate enlargement using techniques first performed by us in Canada. UHN is really at the forefront of bringing technological innovation to our patients, and I would not be able to offer these highly specialized treatments anywhere else. Urology is an amazing specialty as we are able to connect with patients about their most personal issues and find ways to improve their quality of life.

The most incredible thing I’ve seen at work is the complete life-changing outcomes given to patients after sacral neuromodulation. These patients have suffered so greatly from bladder and bowel problems, often to the point where they must wear diapers all the time and cannot leave their homes. After implanting one of these spinal cord pacemakers, we see complete cures of their symptoms and the ability to regain dignity, freedom and a positive quality of life.

I’m inspired by my fellow surgeons in The Sprott Department of Surgery at UHN. I am continually amazed when I hear about their ground-breaking work in their respective fields. We often work in silos, unaware of what is being done around us in different fields of medicine.  I am humbled to be part of a community of global leaders who are creating change both here and abroad.

One of my personal heroes is Dr. Mike Robinette, a now retired urologist at UHN, because he managed to lead a life of impact and balance. He was a fantastic mentor and teacher to all the residents, was a kind and pleasant colleague who was eternally in a good mood, and he maintained interests outside of medicine. He seemed to have it figured out and I respected him greatly for that.

I sometimes worry about losing sight of what is important and losing balance in my life. The demands of an academic career, busy clinical practice and research interests all need to be balanced with spending quality time with my family. While I know what the priorities are (family!), it can be a challenge to do it all.

I’ve found joy recently from starting a new fitness and nutritional program. It’s nothing special. Eat less, exercise more. But these simple changes in habits after reaching a certain age can lead to big health impacts. I feel a lot better about myself with more energy and a positive attitude.

My favourite movie is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off because it always reminds me of staying home from elementary or high school when I was sick.  It always seemed to be on TV when I was home.

My ideal day off is somewhere far away, on a beach, with my family.

Did you know you can recognize a UHN staff member through our Honour Your Hero program? Express gratitude for the care you or a loved one received and share a personal message of thanks with the people who supported you throughout your care journey. Your gift will supported research, education and the enhancement of patient care right here at UHN.

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