St. Luke’s Nampa has been lucky enough to work with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Tracye Lawyer since last September when the accomplished surgeon and athlete moved from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she was doing a sports medicine fellowship to Idaho to work in the new hospital. The hospital, which opened in October of 2017, can now provide the services of an accomplished doctor like Lawyer so no patients needing such specialized care no longer need to drive to Boise or Meridian.
Orthopedics is a fairly natural field for Lawyer to have ended up in considering her history in athletics. She was recruited to Stanford as a track athlete in high jump but then ended up segueing into heptathlon, a competition where athletes compete in seven different track and field events over a period of two days.
“Being an athlete in college and going into sports medicine is pretty natural,” Lawyer said. “Having been an athlete and had injuries, relating to my patients in orthopedics seemed like a natural pathway.”
Lawyer comes from an athletic family, making it no surprise that she went on to get so many accolades. Her father played basketball at Princeton and her brothers David and Kerry ran track and played football at Boise State.
“I guess I had no choice but to be athletic!” Lawyer said.
From athlete to doctor
Lawyer also ran in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic trails but the Olympic dream did not come to fruition until she attended college at Stanford.
By the time she graduated from Stanford with a biology degree, she had won three consecutive Pac-10 titles in heptathlon, the only woman in Pac-10 history to do so, earning her a spot in the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010. She also walked on to the soccer team at Stanford and earned a Pac-10 player of the year in the sport. After college, she competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in track and field.
Despite her athletic prowess, the medical field was always Lawyer’s true calling.
“I knew I wanted to become a doctor when I was 8 years old,” Lawyer said. While in medical school at Ohio State University College of Medicine, Lawyer explored all of the surgical specialties and ended up gravitating toward orthopedics in general and then chose to do a fellowship in sports medicine.
“I think it was more of a struggle becoming a doctor than an athlete,” Lawyer said. “I always tell young aspiring doctors that the path is like a marathon and not a sprint. I don’t regret at all the amount of years it took to become an orthopedic surgeon because I love what I do everyday and how I can make a difference in somebody’s life.”
Ties and family ties to Idaho
While Lawyer hadn’t lived in Idaho before last year, she has a few connections to the state. In a press release from St. Luke’s Nampa, Lawyer said she came to Boise in 1999 to compete in an NCAA championship in heptathlon which she won. In addition, Lawyer’s two older brothers attended Boise State University and have lived in Boise ever since.
“Being close to family was a big part of why I took the position at St. Luke’s,” Lawyer said. Lawyer also knew many of the sports medicine surgeons in the area who have served as mentors to her, particularly Dr. Michael Curtin, an orthopedic surgeon at St. Luke’s Clinic — Sports Medicine in Boise.
“He’s kind of mentored me through my training,” Lawyer said. “I’ve known him since 2004.”
With her training in sports medicine and specialty in arthroscopic and open surgery of the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee — as well as a Ph.D. focusing on cartilage regeneration — Lawyer is providing quality sports medicine care to the people of Nampa.
“I see all kinds of sports injuries, mostly ACLs and kids,” Lawyer said. “I also specialize in cartilage restoration so I see a lot of patients that are young and active, from about middle school age up into mid-30s.”
Lawyer is also the team physician for the Middleton High School Vikings and assists with the care of high school and college athletes in Canyon County.
“We’ve gotten patients who are saying, ‘I’m so glad I don’t have to drive all the way from the western part of Idaho all the way to Meridian or Boise. Now we can stop in Nampa and get the care that we need,’” Lawyer said in a press release from St. Luke’s.
When not working at the hospital, the Eagle resident stays active, playing soccer on co-ed leagues, running and working out. The mother of two children — ages 7 and 8 — Lawyer is also expecting a third baby with her husband in just a few short weeks during which time she will take several months off for maternity leave.
“I’m happy at St. Luke’s Nampa, the staff are great and the hospital is beautiful,” Lawyer said. “I’m hoping to continue to build my practice there. It’s getting people to know that we’re here and that you can get the same or even better care at our facility.”