Dr. Michael J. Maynard, MD
I grew up in a large family that was madly in love with the ocean, in Rhode Island.
We spent our summers basking on the beaches, sailing on the waters, and savoring the fantastic seafood in places like Narragansett, Point Judith, Block Island, Newport, Hyannis, and Orleans.
As the oldest of eight siblings, I began shouldering responsibility for the care of others at an early age. This gentle imperative stimulated me to evolve as a leader—but also as a cook, babysitter, lifeguard, and—of course—first aid technician.
Lending me great support in this early-age endeavor was my involvement in Boy Scouts. My progression to Eagle Scout provided an essential framework for the efforts close at hand, and became a solid foundation for what was to follow.
High school provided my first awakening to the world of competition—and, thereby, the gifts with which I have been divinely graced. I competed in track, gymnastics, and football….. but. I excelled in wrestling—winning Rhode Island and New England championships. It was also my honor to give the valediction at graduation.
It seemed, to me, to be in keeping with a life that was nurtured beside the sea to choose a college education at Annapolis. At the Naval Academy, I developed leadership skills and character strengths which have since proven indispensable along my gradual trajectory into a medical profession. My gifts allowed me to continue to excel there in academics and I continued to compete on the football field and on the wrestling mat. Eventually graduating in the top 1% of my class, I earned the privilege of choosing to serve my first tour of duty as a junior officer on a ship home-ported in Pearl Harbor.
After Pearl, I served a second tour of duty as the Missile Officer on a cruiser home-ported in San Diego. And finally, in what turned out to be my last active duty assignment, I was dispatched to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue a graduate degree in engineering and to perform duties as Instructor in Naval Science. I taught celestial navigation and marine engineering to NROTC students from Harvard, MIT, and Wellesley while I pursued graduate studies in Mechanical Engineering. However, during this period I became passionately enthralled with the then-emerging field of bio-engineering. It was at this point that I decided to leave the Navy for a career in medicine.
I chose to come to New York for my medical education based upon a peculiar experience—I ran the New York City Marathon while I was still a grad student at MIT. Literally while I was running, it dawned upon me that I had never really “been” to this great city before. Ironically, at that point, in my Navy life I had already “been” to London, Paris, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, San Francisco and Los Angeles. I had always merely gone “through” or “around” NYC itself when travelling between New England and Annapolis—and the rest of the world.
Although I love Boston, I eschewed the “ivory tower” attitude its denizens had declared to me with respect to their view of New York—and accepted an invitation to study at Cornell University Medical College, located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
The first two years at Cornell, conducted almost exclusively in an intense classroom environment, were a bit of a culture-shock for me. Most of my classmates arrived in the midst of a lock-step progression which had taken them directly from high school to college to medical school with their study-habit disciplines intact. My worldly experience as a junior naval officer had fostered a dissipation of such habits that a relatively leisurely grad school experience at MIT hadn’t quite whipped back into shape. Luckily, we had ample time off during the summers of those first two years. During this time I was able to “recover” and reconnect with my Rhode Island roots. I worked those summers as a commercial shell fisherman diving for hard-shell clams in Narragansett Bay. In fact, this helped me pay my way through medical school.
On the other hand, the final two years of medical school saw my “worldly” education pay strong dividends. These years were conducted nearly exclusively in a clinical “on-the-job-training” environment. The “people skills” I had obtained at Annapolis and honed in a real-world social environment made me shine. As a result, I again ended up in the top group of my graduating class.
Mechanics, engineering, and medicine merge together in the field of Orthopedic Surgery. For this reason, I gravitated toward orthopedics .