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Dr. Earl Gaar

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Dr. Earl Gaar

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Dr. Earl Gaar


I am a Professor of Surgery and Chief of Surgical Services at the Louisville Robley Rex VA Medical Center which is one of the main affiliated teaching hospitals of the University of Louisville School of Medicine. I graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine and completed a straight surgical internship and residency in generay surgery here at the University under Dr. Hiram Polk, as well as a fellowship in surgical research at the Price Institute of Surgical Research. Following my training I was in private practice in the Louisville metro area with Dr. John Spratt.

I founded the surgical endoscopy service at the VA, performed the first laparoscopic procedures at the Louisville VA, and was a founding member of the National VA Bariatric Surgery Workgroup - which formulated policy and procedures for Bariatric Surgery nationwide within the VA system. A state of the art endovascular surgery service was instituted in addition to expanding services in thoracic surgery, orthopedic surgery, and otolaryngology. Additionally, through changes to policies, procedures, and systems re-design, the Louisville VA has become a national leader in surgical quality metrics, through the National VA Surgical Quality Improvement Program. Also through further systems re-design, surgical clinic wait/appointment times have markedly decreased and patient satisfaction markedly increased.  While facing an ever increasing clinic and operative workload yearly, the department, with a $25 million dollar annual budget - has come either at or under budget consistently since I arrived. Many previously contracted surgical services have been brought back "in house" resulting in significant dollar savings to the medical center as well as improved quality and continuity of care for the patient. In working for central office in Washington as a member of the National VA Field Advisory Council in Surgery, I have been fortunate to be able to perform site visits and review numerous VA medical centers throughout America. Faced with working in a 60 year old facility with only 50% of required square footage for current workload, I co-authored, along with Dr. Dale Freeman, the initial proposal to build a new state of the art VA Hospital for Louisville. This initial proposal has come to reality with plans to construct a 1 million square foot facility with a one billion dollar price tag, that will serve America's veterans for the next 60 years.

I have had a long interest in student medical education, being once a student here myself. I instituted the "Gaar Sessions" in the medical student surgical curriculum some twenty years ago and have been honored to receive multiple Golden Apple, Thomas Calhoun, and Alpha Omega Alpha awards. It is an honor to be able to serve as an Academic Advisory Dean at my alma mater. Getting to know my advisees on a personal level and helping to shepherd them through medical school on into post-graduate training is consistenyly enjoyable, rewarding, and I always find them teaching me new things that I previously did not know!

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