Humans of the U: Giavonni Lewis

“I am originally from Florida. I did my general surgery residency at Loyola Medical Center in the Chicago area. My residency is where my interests began in burn because a lot of our patients came in with a lot of psychosocial issues. They didn’t have the ability to cope with just normal life and they had burns on top of that. Significant support from an interdisciplinary team really is what helped them to be successful in life after they went through such a devastating injury. And so, they were extremely grateful.

Every surgery is a moment where you impact someone’s life. For me, surgery has always felt like almost like a gift in a way. I think about the individual that I’m operating on and what that patient needs. So, I feel hugely responsible for their surgery and their outcomes. If it’s a kiddo, I’m with them until they’re 18 and they’ve grown through all of their grafts. For adults, it’s until at least a year to two years when their graft has stabilized. They will see this forever. It’s a part of their life. And I want to make sure that they have as good a result as possible.

Remember that each person who arrives in your clinic to seek care is already in a vulnerable space. It’s important that we allow them to have a space that’s open for communication and that’s nonjudgmental.

Triathlons remind me that I have more physical capabilities and I’m not just a surgeon. I am a person that can do other things. When I dance or when I paint or when I use a clarinet or anything outside of work, those things help to remind me of life and why people want to get back to it and help me to keep an even temper and provide a calm, safe space for the patients to thrive.”

—Giavonni Lewis, burn surgeon, University of Utah Health