The first member of his family to attend college, he came to Adelphi thanks to a hard-earned academic scholarship.
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Chief of Vascular Surgery, North Shore Hospital Glen Cove
Favorite Professors: Sung Moon, Fred Bettleheim “with whom I published my first article,” and Sal Primeggia, “we used to fight to get into his classes.”
Favorite Adelphi memories: cheering for the soccer team, and relaxing in the Rathskeller with friends.
Advice for pre-med students: “As a doctor, you commit yourself to being in tough positions. You have to really want it, to be successful.”
Putting with Surgical Precision
Gerard Vitale ’78, the first member of his family to attend college, came to Adelphi thanks to a hard-earned academic scholarship.
At the time, he already knew he wanted to be a doctor. A summer college program at North Shore LIJ Hospital cemented his ambition to be a surgeon.
“They trained us to hand the surgeons the right instruments, and we observed all kinds of surgeries. We worked 40-hour weeks, and we didn’t earn a penny, but it really heightened my enthusiasm for surgery.”
Dr. Vitale has been the Chief of Vascular Surgery for North Shore Hospital in Glen Cove for 15 years, and he has maintained a solo practice for almost 20. He performs 5-10 surgeries each week, and sees over 300 major cases per year.
Typical cases include arterial sclerosis, aortic aneurysms, and problems with vein thrombosis and varicose veins. To hear him describe it, even passing a specially designed blood clot filter from a small incision in the neck to the abdomen is merely routine practice.
And yet, Dr. Vitale may take an urgent call at any time to discuss a patient’s need for an amputation or an emergency operation. “Vascular patients tend to be high risk patients. Circulatory problems go hand-in-hand with diseases such as diabetes and others.”
Dr. Vitale opened his solo practice almost immediately after finishing his residencies. “This is such a specialty field that you need to be doing just vascular surgery to be really good at it.” He has seen technology bring rapid change to this young medical field. “Increasingly, the trend is to do less invasive procedures, such as using stents and grafts that require only minor operations.”
Dr. Vitale attended medical school at the University of Buffalo and completed a competitive five-year surgical residency at North Shore Manhasset Hospital. In his final years, he was named chief resident.
Always one to challenge himself, Dr. Vitale selected the young field of vascular surgery as his specialty. In 1987, he moved to Portland, Oregon for a one-year residency with renowned surgeon Dr. Toshio Inahara, one of the founders of the field.
He is a member of the American College of Surgeons, the Nassau Surgical Society, the Society of Clinical Vascular Surgeons, the New York Society for Cardiovascular Surgery, and the International Society for Vascular Surgery.
At Adelphi, he pursued a chemistry major, was a member of Theta Kappa Epsilon, and the National Honors Society. “Adelphi gave me a solid base in the liberal arts and sciences.” He also helped teach a laboratory course for nursing students, and remembers his nervousness on walking into the classroom for the first class, and being asked if he knew who the teacher would be.
Dr. Vitale credits his success in college, medical school, and in medicine to the work ethic he learned from his family. “Money was tight for my family, and I knew that college was a real opportunity for me.” It is a tradition he proudly tries to instill in his children.
Several years ago, Dr. Vitale downshifted from working seven days a week to five. He has since become a “golf addict,” even sometimes toying with the idea of leaving medicine to play every day. He also serves on the board of directors of the local YMCA and has served as president of the board of the Grenville Boys and Girls Club.
Dr. Vitale and his wife, Jeanne, “the only nurse I ever dated,” live in Lattingtown, New York. Two of their three children are in college, and one is in high school.
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