At Beacon Orthopaedics, we have some of the finest doctors in the region, if not the country. And we have the receipts. Dr. David Argo is just one example of how our physicians are leaders in sports medicine and orthopedics. This year alone he’s been recognized not once but twice. In June, AlloSource® presented him with the Annual Dr. Steven Gitelis Inspiration Award. He’s one of only five recipients of the honor. If that wasn’t enough, Becker’s Spine Review followed up by naming him as one of the 10 orthopedic surgeons in America to know.
However, growing up Argo would’ve never guessed that he’d end up here. He had no intention of having that “D-R” ahead of his name or “M-D” after it. In fact, he came from humble beginnings in Tennessee.
“Coming from a low-income, hardworking, get-it-done kind of family, I’ve had to do just about everything. I’ve cleaned out horse stalls, done construction, been a valet parker, and even worked at Sonic,” said Argo.
It’s that strong work ethic that Argo applied to chores and jobs from a young age and to his schoolwork that ultimately landed him at Vanderbilt University as a scholarship student. While there, he chose to pursue a degree in mechanical and materials engineering, which gave him the opportunity to work on high-profile projects with NASA and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Mentioning that he was also captain of Vanderbilt’s men’s soccer team, which would be a peak accomplishment for many, almost feels mundane to follow up with. However, it did introduce him to the field that would eventually help bring him to sports medicine — not before having an entire career at Procter & Gamble (P&G) first though.
After graduating from college, the first in his family to do so, Argo was hired on by P&G as a mechanical engineer for Duncan Hines cookies. He went from there to Pringles corn chips (RIP) to Metamucil and then added on Pepto-Bismol. It was during this time that he rightly or wrongly acquired the nickname, “Stop and Go Argo.”
Around the same period, Argo started to have a change of heart about his career path. It’s not clear whether it was the moniker or meeting his bride-to-be, Deanna. Based on how Argo tells the story though, it’s likely the latter.
“We were on our first date, and I asked Deanna what she would do for a career if she could do anything in the world. She answered and then flipped the question on me, but I was prepared with an answer that I hoped would make her heart melt,” said Argo. “I’d like to be a doctor and put little pink casts on little broken arms.”
He went on with a smile in his voice, “The next day Deanna shows up at my house with a stack of books. She went and registered me for classes at UC, paid the tuition, and bought the textbooks. We’d only been on one date! But it stuck, and we’ve been married for nearly 30 years.”
Argo chose pursuing a marriage license over a restraining order — along with a medical degree from the University of Tennessee — and hasn’t looked back.
“Deanna gave me the inspiration and drive to get started on a new path,” Argo added. “I had worked at P&G for eight years. It’s a great company with very talented and accomplished people, but I wanted to be the guy who helps people and makes them feel better. I was ready to do something with my hands and brain to directly improve the lives of others.”
With his mind made up, Argo put his head down and got to work on pursuing his dream. From medical school, he completed his residency and then started a fellowship in Mississippi. It was there that he had the privilege of learning alongside the man who he believes is the “greatest shoulder surgeon in the world,” Dr. Felix Savoie III. (Don’t worry, Dr. Argo, none of our shoulder specialists will ever find out…)
Having spent time in Cincinnati during his tenure with P&G, Argo had gotten to know Beacon’s Dr. Robert Burger. The two reconnected, and he soon found himself practicing at Beacon where he’s been able to combine his life experiences with his profession to bring it all full circle.
“When someone says. ‘Doc, I can’t take six weeks to get back to work. I have a family. I have bills to pay.’ I can fully appreciate that and really empathize with my patients because I’ve been in their position at some point in my life,” said Argo. “I can tell them, ‘Ok, I’ve got you. We’re going to follow this roadmap and hit these goals to get you better.’ That’s when I see them light up. Now they have a plan, and if you give patients a plan, that gives them the power to do better, faster.”
The opportunity to help people get back to doing what they want to do is more than a passion for Argo. It’s a calling. In fact, if he had to do it all over again, he wouldn’t change a thing. It’s all of those life experiences that give him insight into what his patients need. He doesn’t have to imagine walking in their shoes because he’s already done it.
For anyone considering going into the field of orthopedics, Argo has these words of advice, “Being an orthopedic surgeon is challenging and rewarding. It’s a physical job. It’s a mental job. It’s an emotional job. But there’s not a better job in the world for me, and anyone who has an interest should jump in and go for it.”
Those words might come as expected from the man who quotes the old adage that when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. So, if you ever ask Argo if he’s going to work, don’t be surprised at the response, “No, I’m going to Beacon.” To him, he’s just blessed.