Get to Know Your Physician: David Ritzow, MD

June 19, 2014

David Ritzow with Medical Mentoring Student Morgan Seidler and nurse practitioner
Kim Willison.

Here’s Dr. Ritzow, orthopedic surgeon, family man, and athlete.

Where is your hometown? How has that influenced who you have become?

I was born in Milwaukee and moved to Waukesha when I was 7 years old. We lived in a pretty rural area in Waukesha and I think that offered me opportunities to explore the outdoors without much oversight. That was also before hyper-vigilant parenting, so as kids it seemed that we had a lot of independence. When I feel the need to be recharged, I tend to gravitate toward doing something outdoors.

Tell us about your family. 

My wife Kim and I met and started dating early in my freshman year at college. We dated for nine years before we were married and recently celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. Kim’s previous career involved developing statistical computer software and consulting. After our son Max was born, she started Dilly Bug, a home based business designing custom invitations and stationery. She has profound interests in reading, cooking, photography and travel. Max is 16 years old and a junior at Appleton North High School. He has a strong interest in anything tech related and just about every week I learn something new about my iPhone from him. He is active in cross country and track at North, and plays percussion in the band.

Where did you go to medical school? Why orthopedics?

I went to medical school at UW-Madison, which is also where I did my undergraduate work. I was initially interested in orthopedics because of my interest in sports and athletics. While that still is true, as I went through different rotations in med school, orthopedic surgery appealed to me on multiple levels because it combined the science of medicine and engineering with the physicality of shop class.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

A big part of orthopedic surgery is restoring mobility and function, which allows patients to return to their jobs, sports, and hobbies. It can give someone a chance to maintain their independence, and I find that rewarding. I think there is a satisfaction in being able to help relieve someone’s pain.

What activities do you enjoy outside of work?

I enjoy running, biking, hiking, and spending time outdoors at our cottage.

Any health recommendations?

My advice is to do something active every day, and focus on maintaining flexibility and core strength.

If you weren’t a physician, what profession would you have chosen?

I would have been a trail maintenance worker in a National Park.

Tell us about any memorable trips you have taken.

I have always enjoyed taking a fall hiking trip with my family. A trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire will be remembered for the great food, a crisp chill in the air, and a territorial ‘killer’ grouse. We recently went on an extended trip to Argentina and Antarctica, which was epic. Regarding Antarctica, there is nowhere like it on Earth, literally. In some ways it was life changing for our family and we will always rank that trip among our favorites. And while on a medical mission to St. Lucia, I realized how much we take for granted and, in fact, how little we actually need.