Celebrating the Man behind the Practice

This month, we wish Dr. Robinson a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY and
share part of the story that shaped our wonderful surgeon! 

Dr. Burke Robinson“I truly love my job,” proclaims Dr. Burke Robinson, FACS. “I wake up in the morning excited to come to work. I have the ability to help people change their lives and that’s how I always have seen my role. Whether it is correcting a child’s protruding ears to resolve the bullying, to improving the overly distracting nose of the shy overlooked teenager, to the reconstruction of the grandparent ravaged by an aggressive skin cancer. Over and over, I have seen how physical self-image really impacts a sense of self-worth and personal confidence. It can be frustrating and difficult if your external appearance doesn’t necessarily match who you feel you are on the inside. When I help patients overcome that frustration, they are no longer focused on imperfections.”

Dr. Robinson learned the impact of that type of frustration early in his life. He watched his mother, who was diagnosed with MS when Dr. Robinson was barely in preschool, struggle to overcome the limitations of her body. She remained upbeat and determined, despite the difficulty of raising her three children while the disease ravaged her system. Later, when Dr. Robinson reached his teen years, his father suffered a neck injury that would render him disabled. As the oldest child, Dr. Robinson became the caretaker – helping out with younger siblings, running errands, and taking his parents to all their medical appointments. “Yes, I guess I was the Uber of ’74,” he quips. “I shuttled them back and forth, so I was regularly on the patient-side of things when I was growing up… the worry, the confusion, keeping up with medications, I understand all of that very well.”

With both parents at limited capacity, financial strains in the home tightened severely. Dr. Robinson stepped in as much as possible to assist with bills and expenses. “For a while, neither one of my parents could work. It was tough, particularly at that age, “he recalls. “I got a job after school as the janitor… basically, I’d go to school all day, and then start cleaning up after my friends. Not fun, but it had to be done.” Even with that pressure, he achieved an academic level that qualified him for scholarship funding at The University of Arizona.

Off at school, Dr. Robinson continued to work and save in order to send money home. “Once, when I took the Greyhound bus home for Thanksgiving break, and my mom met me at the station,” remembers Dr. Robinson, “then went by the grocery store to do some shopping. As she checked out, I noticed her trying to hide from me that she was using food stamps.” His extracurricular jobs provided valuable experience that leave an indelible impressions for his future approach as a physician. “I’ve been an orderly cleaning bedpans and administering enemas; I’ve been an ER clerk typing forms and balancing triage,” avows Dr. Robinson. “Everyone on staff deserves to be treated with the utmost respect. It’s a team effort. The people around you contribute to your success.”

The work ethic instilled in him was too strong for anything to set him back. “Both of my parents stayed positive. Seriously, my dad should be a motivational speaker,” Dr. Robinson asserts. “Education’s a big focus for our family and I took that seriously. I still do for my kids.” Academic excellence in college led to medical school and opportunities from there consistently propelled him forward on his path. Every time an insurmountable hurdle would present itself, something would turn up to lift him over the roadblock and set him back in motion. From the sudden donation of the car he needed to complete his clinical rotations in med school to a last-minute change presenting an incredible residency opportunity to the perfect match for his fellowship linking him with a physician who’d become a lifelong friend and mentor, Dr. Robinson credits faith. “I see God’s hand in all of it. All of it. No doubt.”

In 1995, Dr. Robinson was scouted by huge Atlanta ENT practice of over 40 surgeons and moved here to join their team as their facial plastic surgeon. The medical group continued to grow, perhaps too quickly, and eventually folded in 2001. That’s when he decided to branch out on his own into private practice. “I took a gamble but I knew it was right for me. From the day I established this practice, I’ve wanted the primary focus to be client relationships and a family-friendly atmosphere for my team. In fact, I consider the staff to be a family. Family means more than anything else. When my kids were growing up, I’d coordinate their calendars with mine and managed to only miss five of their events in all those years. In my eyes, my children are definitely my greatest pride over any award I’ve ever won.”

That perspective balances every part of the business. Dr. Robinson’s steadfast resolution to uphold a beneficial quality of life translates into low staff turnover and staunch loyalty from employees and patients alike. He sees everyone as an integral part of the overall system and values his opportunity to serve others as part of his career. “I’m an empathetic person,” he admits, “and [in medicine] if you’re not compassionate, what are you doing in this profession? These are big changes in their life and I do get choked up when patients are overwhelmed by their results. It’s the ultimate satisfaction to give that kind of joy to someone’s life. You know, a few years after this practice had become successful, my mother, who I lost last year, sent me a prayer. I keep it on my desk at the office. Part of it says ‘Oh, Thou kind and gracious Father, grant me an ever grateful heart…Teach me, O God, to be rich in good works, always ready to come to the aid of my brethren, ever willing to communicate according to my ability…’ and as I read the verse each day, I feel centered in this purpose.”

Click here to read the entire prayer given to him by his mother