While he may not have known from an early age that he wanted to become a pediatric surgeon, Dr. John Crow, associate chief medical officer and pediatric surgeon, had lots of practice honing his skills. From working with his hands at an early age as an apprentice electrician to helping raise nine kids, he has routinely been selected by his peers as one of the nation’s best physicians – a sure sign that his skills landed him in the right profession.
Dr. Crow grew up in a small farm community in Knox County, Ohio. He came to the Akron area to attend college and medical school at Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown. He completed his residency in adult surgery at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago and fellowship training in neonatal ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) and pediatric general surgery at Children’s Memorial Medical Center, also in Chicago.
Below Dr. Crow shares more about his career and life both inside and outside the hospital.
Tell us about your background.
I started my career at Akron Children’s in 1992 as a pediatric and burn surgeon and never left. Highlights of my time here include trauma medical director from 2002-2013, chair of surgery from 2013 until Aug. 2020, Burn Center director from 2016-2021 (expected) and associate chief medical officer since 2017.
Tell us a little about your role as Associate Chief Medical Officer.
I am the first person in the role of associate chief medical officer and have been working with Dr. Rob McGregor, our chief medical officer. My time for this role was previously limited but improved in August when Dr. Mark Wulkan replaced me as surgery chair.
I am an active member of the Executive Leadership Team whose primary function is to make the many decisions needed for our large health system. There are countless tasks, small groups and spreadsheets to fill the day. This has been a very exciting reinvention of myself.
What do you like about working at Akron Children’s?
Akron Children’s is an incredible place because of the people and the mission. It has a small-town flavor in a major pediatric health care system. During the organization’s unbelievable growth, the friendliness and caring attitude is as wonderful today as the day I started here 28 years ago.
Why is employee engagement important to you?
Health care is about people, and we are only as good as our employees. This is what differentiates us from other health care institutions. Staying connected to our employees is especially important with our expanding footprint and complexity.
If you didn’t work in health care leadership, what would your dream job be?
Nothing can compare to my journey – at least not for me. As a child, I thought I may want to be a pilot or judge. More recently, a drummer in a rock band has a lot of appeal!
Tell us about your family.
I have helped raised six children and three stepchildren over the years and now have many grandchildren. Our family is spread all over the world. One lives in Amsterdam and another in New Zealand. Two of my step kids live in the region, including Dr. Megan Sampson from hematology/oncology. My other two step kids live in Atlanta and Stow.
How do you relax?
I enjoy biking and other fitness activities, maintaining two saltwater fish tanks, reading and travel (pre-COVID).
Most interesting place you’ve been and why?
I love the history, people and stories from other countries, especially Europe. I thoroughly enjoyed Hawaii as a cross culture experience of Asia, Polynesia and the Americas. My most interesting professional experience was at St. Damien’s in Port-A-Prince Haiti. I went for a week with Dr. Jeff Kempf, retired director of the global health program, 10 months after their devastating 2010 earthquake and have looked at life differently ever since. Somehow giving back at that level is a goal as my career changes. There are so many less fortunate than me.
What was your first paying job?
I worked for my father as a plumber, electrician and in excavation from my teen years until I graduated from medical school. My first health care job was as a phlebotomist at Akron General.
What would you change about yourself if you could?
I have not done well with work/life balance. I never say “no,” and while this has certainly made my life richer, there has been a cost especially to those around me.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra you live by?
“Always be humble and kind.” I strive to live by this and hope that is how I act.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
I love water skiing and could ski backwards and barefoot (when I was younger and had a boat).