|David Arnold, M.D. ’92, a surgical oncologist specializing in head and neck surgery, makes the most of life.
Highly regarded Miller School head and neck surgeon David Arnold, M.D. ’92, is a man who wrings maximum value from each tick of the clock.
He greets a visitor to his small University of Miami Hospital & Clinics office with a quick, viselike handshake before diving directly into the business at hand, preserving precious time. Tick. Arnold answers questions with crisp, staccato responses, followed by a barely perceptible head tilt that practically says, “Next!” Tock.
None of this comes off as brusque—actually Arnold’s demeanor
is friendly and open. It’s just clear that he’s an earnest, intense oncology surgeon who has patients to see and places to go, and who puts a premium on time management. There are 86,400 seconds in every day, and Arnold has them all accounted for, lined up, and marching in tight formation. Tick.
He has to. In addition to regularly performing exacting, multi-hour cancer surgeries, Arnold is helping UHealth implement a state-of-the-art computer software system that will store electronic medical records and improve patient-physician communication. He’s also raising three young daughters with his wife, Mary, and is determined not to be an absentee dad.
Arnold’s knack for optimizing time surfaced long before fatherhood or taking the Hippocratic Oath. It was evident back when the Miami native was attending Ransom Everglades High School.
“In 1986 when I graduated, there was a Miller School program called the HPME—the Honors Program in Medical Education,” says Arnold, whose office walls are festooned with pictures of his family. “It allowed you to get simultaneous acceptance to undergrad and medical school. So you’d go to college for two years, and you’d start medical school the third year.”
At the age of 17, Arnold not only knew what he wanted to do for a living, but had mapped out the most time-efficient path to get there. Why take eight years to do what could be accomplished in six?
However, life sometimes throws curves even at consummate planners. During Arnold’s third year of medical school, when it appeared obstetrics beckoned, he decided to observe a neck cancer surgery on a whim. The attending surgeon was W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., who was chair of otolaryngology at the time.
“It’s complex, technical surgery, without a whole lot of room for error,” says Arnold, who was mesmerized to the point of being hooked on the spot. “You have to understand the anatomy of the area you’re operating in, and you have to be vigilant about how you operate. Technique is paramount.”
Arnold really hit the jackpot that day because he also picked up a mentor in Goodwin, now director of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of the University of Miami Health System.
“I think he’s a very high-quality person who cares a great deal about his patients,” Goodwin says of Arnold. “I also recognize in him someone who can work with others. Finally, I find him to be very good as a surgeon.”
As busy as Arnold is, what literally and figuratively floats his boat is recreation. The son of a boat-owning dentist, Arnold earned a professional captain’s license at 19 and currently owns a 27-footer he tries to sail at least twice a week.
No doubt while extracting maximum enjoyment from every second spent on the water.