Dr. Anna Spivak, DO, Colon and Rectal Surgeon, is not your typical amateur baker. She leans toward the more complex pastries and desserts, creating decadent treats from French macarons to profiterole cream puffs. She enjoys skiing, playing tennis, reading, yoga and spending time with her family, including her husband and three daughters.
Her love of challenges comes as no surprise given her dedication to her work. After leaving accounting to pursue medicine, Dr. Spivak chose colorectal surgery — a field that requires significant patience and care. On October 1, 2020, Dr. Spivak joined the Chester County Hospital (CCH) community.
Dr. Spivak earned her Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her general surgery residency at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, PA. She went on to complete her advanced subspecialty training in Colon and Rectal surgery at Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh, PA. While in her residency and fellowship, Dr. Spivak participated in research studies and presented at multiple conferences on colon and rectal surgery outcomes and robotic surgery.
We sat down with Dr. Spivak to learn more about her medical career and hear what excites her about being part of the Chester County Hospital team.
We know challenging yourself was a key reason you entered medicine. Why did you choose to specialize in colorectal surgery?
Dr. Spivak: I chose colorectal surgery because it allows me to work with patients who suffer from a variety of different diseases- cancer, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and diverticulitis being just a few. Some of these illnesses are life-long while others come into and out of their lives rather quickly. We build relationships and take care of the disease together. I find it to be demanding and professionally satisfying.
What are some of those challenging and rewarding aspects of your job?
Dr. Spivak: The most difficult part of the job is telling a patient that they have cancer. It is hard to deliver news like that. But that also goes along with the most rewarding aspect of my job, which is telling patients they are cured. When a patient comes into the hospital with a severe diagnosis and you manage to help them, seeing them recover and go home is one of the most rewarding things professionally for me.
Let’s talk about your patients. What do you admire about them?
Dr. Spivak: Resilience. I absolutely admire patients’ ability to recover and keep going while fighting their disease.
Let’s say someone comes into the emergency room with a serious issue. They undergo an operation, often followed by a long hospitalization. When they get up and walk around, they smile. It is this strength that I find admirable.
That is ultimately what brings me to work every day — the fact that I can help cure them.
What is one of the most important things you’ve learned in your medical career so far?
Dr. Spivak: Surgery is a team sport. It’s not just me taking care of patients. It’s the nurses, physicians assistants, social workers, case managers, office and support staff in the hospital. But it is the patients and their families who are the most important people in this equation. All of us work together to help the patient heal.
Going into medicine, a lot of people don’t realize that, but eventually, they understand, “Oh, it’s not just me — it’s truly a team effort.” You have to work as a team in order to provide the best care for your patients.
You’ve been at Chester County Hospital just a few months now. What do you like about it — and what excites you about your future here?
Dr. Spivak: Chester County Hospital is a well-run community-based hospital with excellent resources, including those from Penn Medicine. We have fantastic pathologists, radiologists, oncologists, radiation oncologists, gastroenterologists, internists, and specialists— there are experts in each discipline.
At the same time, we are within the community, serving the community. We help people stay close to home for their treatment while providing a full spectrum of services that are necessary, as well as the best possible care for their condition. We’re able to get patients state-of-the-art care within the community setting.
Chester County Hospital is a personal place, where everybody knows each other. Ultimately, that affects how people interact and how people are taken care of. There’s a feeling to that — it’s not a big place where people just pass by one another. People tend to work here for many, many years, and it certainly shows.
I am excited to join an excellent group of physicians at CCH and add my expertise in colorectal diseases to provide an even broader and comprehensive care to the community.
Last question — if you could tell the Chester County community one thing, what would it be?
Dr. Spivak: Wear your mask, wash your hands, and stay safe. And, of course, call Chester County Hospital for any of your colorectal needs.
Do you have questions about how a colorectal surgeon like Dr. Spivak can help you with your colorectal health? Call 610-431-5000 to learn more.
Related Information from Chester County Hospital: