Geary Bush (BSA — Animal Science, ’03) always knew he wanted to work with his hands and fix things.
Before enrolling at the University of Georgia, Bush — an active 4-H’er while growing up on his family’s farm in Donalsonville, Georgia — had never been to Athens and didn’t have any close friends who’d ever been there. In retrospect, he’s grateful for the experiences and mentors that were crucial in illuminating his life’s path.
“I think it was a great blessing for me to end up at UGA and being part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Being an 18-year-old and not knowing what I needed, I was fortunate to find myself attending a fantastic university as a part of an incredible college, surrounded by people who helped me grow, mature as an adult and begin to make some wise decisions,” he said.
Originally a pre-veterinary student in animal science, Bush can still recall the summer day between his sophomore and junior years that he realized something didn’t feel quite right about his intended profession.
“I walked out of the vet’s office and I felt like the peace and assurance of that career path left instantly,” said Bush. After seeking counsel from those he trusted and praying about it, he decided to pursue medicine. “I feel like I made a great decision,” he said.
Already familiar with the professors and enjoying his major classes, Bush stayed in animal science, continuing to take the medical school prerequisites. Guidance from then pre-med advisor and entomology Professor Karl Espelie set him on track for success, ultimately leading him to the Medical College of Georgia (MCG).
“He went out of his way to make an extra-special effort, going over and above to help me get into medical school, and more specifically, the right medical school for me. His efforts were a tremendous help to me,” said Bush.
Not only did Espelie provide Bush mentorship in college, he attended Bush’s white coat ceremony during his first year at MCG. The annual ceremony is a tradition during which medical students don their white lab coats for the first time.
“He showed up to support me and the other advisees. That showed me that he cared. He made a real big impact on me,” Bush said.
Since 2014, Bush has been a general surgeon at the Longstreet Clinic in Gainesville, Georgia, literally using his “hands to larger service,” as stated in the 4-H pledge. General surgeons are specialists who routinely care for a variety of illnesses. Common procedures performed are gallbladder removals, hernia repairs, breast cancer operations, thyroid removals and skin cancer excisions, among many others.
Bush specializes in minimally invasive surgery. After developing advanced laparoscopic skills, he sought additional training in robotic surgery. Four years ago, he began performing surgeries using the da Vinci Surgical System. Robot-assisted surgeries are completely controlled by the doctor, who views magnified 3-D images of the patient through instrumentation guided into the body through eight-millimeter incisions. The surgeon’s hand movements are translated to precise instrument movements. Robotic surgeries often result in less pain and quicker return to normal activity for patients.
This year, Bush was named a Surgeon of Excellence in Robotic Surgery and a Surgeon of Excellence in Hernia Surgery by the Surgical Review Corporation, a nonprofit, patient-safety and accreditation organization for medical professionals and facilities around the world. He also serves on the board of the Good News Clinics, Georgia’s largest free indigent care clinic. In 2019, Good News Clinics provided $21 million of free service to its patients.
Day to day, Bush enjoys interacting with his patients and helping to address their needs. He constantly reminds himself to treat every patient as a person, not just another customer.
“In medicine I’m constantly reminded that my customer is a human being, someone God created and who is loved by God. I should love them too,” Bush said. “When I maintain that mindset, I’m a much better doctor and my patients have better results.”
Evidence of Bush’s commitment to his patients is stated in a quote he chose for his email signature, which says, “To truly care for your patient is the start to the healing process.’’