Q & A with head and neck surgeon Patrik Pipkorn

Dr. Patrik Pipkorn cycling
Dr. Pipkorn serves as co-captain of our department's Pedal the Cause Team Heads Up.

What is your background and how did you end up at WashU?

I am originally from Sweden where I grew up and did my medical training as well as residency. I did my last year of residency in Cape Town, South Africa with Dr. Johan Fagan. I then pursued a fellowship in head and neck surgery in the United States, something that is challenging to get with a foreign background. I was fortunate to secure a spot at UC Davis in Sacramento under the mentorship of Dr. Gregory Farwell. My initial focus was on ablative surgery since free flaps had not been part of my prior training. I was originally planning on going back to Sweden, but after realizing how interesting free tissue transfer was, I applied for a second fellowship to get additional experience and a wider exposure to free flaps. I was lucky to be offered the head and neck fellowship here at Washington University. After fellowship I was offered a faculty position, and it was an easy choice to say yes.

Why did you choose head and neck surgery?

Dr. Pipkorn (left) discusses an upcoming patient with the head and neck multidisciplinary clinic team: Peter Oppelt, MD, Wade Thorstadt, MD, and Randall Brenneman, MD.

Head and Neck Surgery was somewhat of a logical choice for me, although it took me a while to realize that. During medical training I always knew I wanted to do a surgical specialty. I was also very interested and fascinated by the intricate anatomy of the head and neck. Once it dawned on me that head and neck was a specialty within otolaryngology, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I have never had any regrets. 

What do you like most about St. Louis and WashU?

St Louis is an easy city to get around. There is plenty of good food and easily accessible activities such as golf or running in the park. Sure, I miss the mountains and ocean at times. WashU is a very rewarding place to work for. There is always a new challenge around the corner. I enjoy collaboration with colleagues within and outside the department. There are very driven people around here that are constantly challenging current concepts and striving to come up with better ideas. I also very much enjoy working with residents and fellows and take great joy in seeing them grow as surgeons, teachers, and individuals.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I like to enjoy the outdoors. When weather permits, I like to go on long bike rides. Just outside the city there are plenty of good opportunities for good road biking. I also like to try new restaurants.

You’re a very instrumental part of the department’s Pedal the Cause effort. What does that mean to you?

Pedal the Cause has meant a lot to me. First, I really enjoy biking, and Pedal the Cause has allowed me to find other bikers, from other walks of life and professions. In addition, the cause is very noble. Although I personally think money raising can be challenging, it makes it a lot easier to ask for money, knowing that what is raised goes to local cancer related research projects. Pedal the Cause is certainly one of my favorite events of the year. The atmosphere is always fantastic.