GAINESVILLE - Betsy Hughes Grunch, M.D., is proof of the saying that "life comes full circle."
The Gainesville native was just 13 when her life took an unexpected turn.
Grunch's mother, a Hall County Sheriff's deputy, was critically injured in the line of duty. The accident damaged her mother's C4 vertebrae, leaving her a quadriplegic and unable to control her arms or legs.
A student at West Hall, Grunch became certified as a nursing assistant so she could help care for her mother. While she pursued her undergraduate degree in biology/pre-med at the University of Georgia, she worked as an assistant in the office of neurosurgeon Nabil Muhanna, M.D., the same doctor who performed surgery on her mother when she was rushed to Northeast Georgia Medical Center after her accident. Grunch also worked closely with Muhanna's partner, Bruce J. Nixon, M.D., during the year she took between college and medical school.
"I decided I wanted to work with people with spinal injuries and neurotrauma," Grunch said. "A lot of people don't understand neurological injuries and that it is possible to recover from them. You really can make a difference in someone's life."
She earned her medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia in 2007, where she was a recipient of the Merck Manual Award, an honor presented to graduates with a 4.0 GPA. She completed both her internship and a six-year residency program at Duke University School of Medicine. While at Duke, Grunch completed a spine research fellowship and received the Spine Young Investigator Award.
She now works alongside her "early mentors" Muhanna and Nixon, and Karl D. Schultz, Jr., M.D., as a neurosurgeon at The Longstreet Clinic, P.C. She is one of fewer than 250 female neurosurgeons in the United States.
Grunch is board-eligible under the American Board of Neurological Surgery. She is a member of the American College of Surgeons, Association of Women Surgeons, American Association of Neurological Surgeons and Congress of Neurological Surgeons. Dr. Grunch has medical staff privileges at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
Dr. Grunch is welcoming new patients. The Department of Neurosurgery at TLC is located at 1240 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Suite 300 in Gainesville. For more information, contact 770-533-7288 or visit www.longstreetclinic.com/neurosurgery.