DOCTORS OF INTEREST
Dr. Drew Brown IV
enjoys his busy spine
surgery practice at
the Orthopedic and
Spine Institute at St.
Lucie Medical Center.
He enjoys the outdoors,
exercise and surfing outside
seeing patients and in
the operating room.
Treasure Coast Medical Report
The SURFING SURGEON
BY GREG GARDNER
Big wave surfing and performing spine surgery are the two
great passions of Drew Brown IV – he craves the mental
discipline they both require.
“It is high stakes with high rewards and you need the
same serenity and calm in the arts of surfing and surgery,” says
Brown, who moved his practice to Florida Orthopaedic Specialists
at St. Lucie Medical Center last year after spending the past
10 years in Hawaii. “It (surfing in Hawaii) is a hierarchical sport.
There is a pecking order. You wait your turn. Surfing is dangerous
and you learn what it takes to be accepted as part of the crew.”
While he is a peaceful guy, Brown, at 6 feet, 4 inches and 230
pounds, is certainly a big man looming in any surf lineup. He
played basketball for the University of Texas for two years.
“In medicine, it is a lifelong journey,” Brown says. “It also has a
hierarchy. You gain experience and you move up. Just as the ocean
is extremely humbling, so is medicine. You think you have conquered
one aspect and two obstacles arise. The ocean shows you
how little you know. The human body and the ocean never stop.”
Like doing a high-wire act without a net, Brown has always
surfed without a leash, which means you have to be good. Swimming
in to get your board in big surf can be deadly.
The obvious and common question is, “Why did you leave
Hawaii?” Brown says it was a career move and he saw this area
as underserved for spine surgeries. He considered Denver, Colo.
and Austin, Texas, but the nearby Atlantic Ocean made Port St.
Lucie look pretty good. “I have to be near the water. I wanted to
expand my practice and get busy right away,” he says. “Hawaii is
a wonderful place. I miss it dearly. Hawaii lives within me. It will
always be home, but Hawaii is not going anywhere.”
Packing up and moving was easy for Brown. Born in Texas
to a Navy A-6 Intruder pilot, Brown moved around the country
until he settled in Memphis, Tenn., for his junior and senior high
school years. Born in Harlem, N.Y., Dr. Brown’s father at one
time was the only black fighter pilot in the ranks of Navy carrier
fighter pilots, with the call sign “Dark Gable.” Today, Drew
Brown III is a motivational speaker with audiences from children
to corporate executives and author of the best-selling book You
For 26 years, Dr. Brown’s grandfather, Drew Bundini Brown Jr.,
trained both Sugar Ray Robinson and Cassius Clay, later known
as Muhammad Ali. In the movie Ali, Drew Brown Jr. was played
by Jamie Foxx.
“I was always a science buff,” Dr. Brown says. “I liked biology.
I wanted to specialize in neurosurgery, but I found it too tedious.
I was sports-oriented, so I decided on orthopaedic surgery.” After
completing medical school, Brown received an additional eight
years of training in Hawaii and California. He has made nine presentations
to his peers on knee and spine surgeries, among other
topics, and considers himself a “techie.”
Just about every day, Dr. Brown wakes up at 4:30 a.m. and
works out or watches sports highlights before heading to St. Lucie
Medical Center. He is usually home around 7 p.m., but sometimes
it might be 8:30 or even 11. He hasn’t had a full day off in
five or six weeks. “You leave when the work is done,” he says. “It
is what we do. It honestly doesn’t feel like work. The work is the
paperwork. My life revolves around the hospital.”
of the long hours