Story and Photos by Kaitlin Hill
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said of doctor’s offices, “When you go to see the doctor, you don’t see the actual doctor first. You must wait in the waiting room. There is no chance of not waiting, that’s the name of the room.”
We’ve all been there. The vinyl seating, fluorescent lighting, and outdated magazines are all par for the course at a typical medical facility and are certainly not instruments of a comfortable or inviting experience.
And the discomfort doesn’t end there. From life stuck on standby in the waiting room to impersonal practitioners and the inevitable billing dispute, a visit to the doctor can often add “headache” to your list of symptoms.
“I wanted to do things a little differently. So I decided just to hang up a shingle here in Middleburg and practice the way I practice, which is very unique.”Dr. Andrew Bishop
That’s Middleburg-based Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Andrew Bishop speaking from his Federal Street office where his cozy waiting room, full of family heirlooms and squashy armchairs, is as warm and inviting as he is.
(Above: Dr. Andrew Bishop)
Bishop, an Atlanta-native, admits that while he comes from a long line of doctors, a general practitioner grandfather and cardiologist father, his path to the white coat wasn’t a straight line. He says, “In high school, I was interested in one thing and that was playing football.” He continues, “I had signed a letter of intent to play college football at the University of Georgia. My senior year of high school, at the next to last game, I tore my knee to shreds. I had a bunch of surgery and that was the end of that.”
With his football dreams dashed, Bishop confides, “Frankly, I was a little lost.” He continues, “My knee was doing pretty well, so I moved out West and was a ski bum for a year, and then I decided I needed to figure out what I was going to do.”
Bishop returned to Atlanta and enrolled at Emory University for his undergraduate studies, where he set his sights on medical school. “I stayed at Emory for med school, and I thought I would be a cardiologist, which is what my dad was…but once I started rotations, I quickly fell in love with surgery.” He continues, “I was just drawn to orthopedics for a couple of reasons…I love interacting with patients, and I figured out through rotations that the orthopedic guys were doing a whole bunch of different operations. It was a lot of variety, so you weren’t bored.”
His teenage knee injury contributed to the decision, too, albeit indirectly. He remembers, “After that experience, I knew there has got to be a better way. It was a terribly miserable and painful experience…I can’t say the moment I got hurt I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon, but it did evolve that way. And I always liked being around athletes.”
Fittingly, Bishop would unite his two passions and build his orthopedic career in Atlanta as the Atlanta Falcons’ team physician for 15 years.
His move to Middleburg was in pursuit of another love, his wife. He remembers, “We met when I fixed her mother’s hip down in Atlanta. We ended up dating and eventually married.” He adds, “She was practically born on a horse and did the Grand Prix circuit in Europe after college and then returned to Middleburg.” He continues, “So I came up here and didn’t know exactly what I was going to do. I looked at joining some practices, but kind of wanted to do something different.”
Different indeed. Bishop works alone. He doesn’t have secretaries, nurses, or staff, except for a dog who usually occupies his office with him. His practice is centered on building close personal relationships with his patients, accessibility, and serving the community.
He confesses, “Most medicine today is very impersonal. Generally, these big offices you can’t get anything but a voicemail and a recording, push one for this and two for that. I answer my own phone when I can. I’ll leave my cell phone on my answering machine if someone needs to get me quickly…It’s awfully convenient for people to come in here and there’s never a wait. No hassles, no barriers between me and the patient.”
In addition to seeing patients in his Middleburg office and at his surgery facility in Reston, Bishop is also available out in the field, literally. He shares, “Last Saturday, I had to interrupt my hunt because somebody fell off [their horse] and was hurt pretty badly. I stopped and tended to them and got them sorted out. I do that in a totally unofficial capacity.”
(Above: Jane and Andrew Bishop at Orange County Opening Meetx, Photo by Joanne Maisano)
He also serves the community in an official position, as the doctor for the International Gold Cup and the Orange County Hounds Point-to-Point Races. For the Gold Cup, he says, “I do it as a volunteer. I consider it a community service. I think horse sports and racing is very important to this community, and without volunteers to make it happen, it would be tough.”
Though injuries are never pleasant experiences, Bishop proves that the process of treating them can be. From his welcoming nature to his purposefully personal medical practice, Bishop is undoubtedly an asset to this small town and will continue to be for years to come.
“I’m not nearing the end of my career. I plan on practicing for another 20 years if my health allows it.” He adds, “The way I practice, I believe my patients love…The reward is that I have as much time to spend with my patients as I need to…And I’ll plan on seeing patients as long as I can get through the door.” ML
This article first appeared in the January 2020 issue of Middleburg Life.