Pediatric surgeon: In medicine, cultivate relationships as well as technology


Dr. Michael Scheidler

Dr. Michael Scheidler, pediatric trauma medical director at University Medical Center, was integral in building the hospital’s pediatric robotic surgery program, introduced in 2017. “Minimally invasive robotic surgery offers a number of significant advantages,” he says, “especially for pediatric patients. These include reduced risks of complications, improved recovery times and shorter hospital stays.”

Compared with open surgery, Scheidler says, robotic procedures typically result in smaller incisions with minimal scarring, less blood loss and a reduced need for narcotic pain medications.

When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?

I was in high school when I realized I wanted to be a doctor. I worked for and shadowed a family practice doctor who worked out of his home. He was kind and compassionate to his patients, and they loved his common-sense approach. Although I have devoted my career to surgery, I strive to follow his example by building strong relationships with my patients and their family members.

You could work anywhere in the country. Why did you choose Las Vegas to build a practice?

I moved to Las Vegas in early 2004 because the city had such a great need for pediatric surgeons. I chose a private practice in Las Vegas over more traditional hospital positions on the East Coast. When I arrived, there were only three other pediatric surgeons in the state. This number remained more or less steady until last year, when two more joined my practice. By comparison, California has almost 100 pediatric surgeons.

What procedures do you most commonly perform?

The most common procedures I perform include hernia repairs, foregut surgery, gallbladder removal and appendectomies. While these procedures are the most common, pediatric surgeons operate on a wide spectrum of conditions in the chest, abdomen and genital-urinary system from newborns to young adults.

What is unique about your approach and patient treatment?

I approach each child with respect. You can’t talk down to pediatric patients and you can’t talk over them. Sometimes, I have to joke around with the kids to get them to relax and tell me what’s going on. Other times, I just have to listen. Everybody has a story about themselves, and it’s my job to hear them. Children are often nervous about having surgery, and I work hard to engage with my patients and put them at ease.

I often talk to them about their interests, providing a welcome distraction while relieving stress.

How have advances in surgical technology affected your career?

Laparoscopic and robotic technologies have played key roles in my career. As a result of these advances, I now have new options for performing minimally invasive procedures.

The evolution of surgical technique is fascinating. Within the next 10 years, further computer integration into the diagnostic and therapeutic realms will enhance our ability to help people.

What is the next big thing in your field?

I am excited about the development of a pediatric weight management program being formed between various pediatric subspecialists. Nationally, pediatric obesity is the third-ranking health crisis. In Nevada, 30 percent of children are considered overweight or obese.

What’s the biggest issue facing Southern Nevada?

Pediatric obesity is one of the most significant health care issues. If we continue the current trend, 50 percent of the population will be obese and 85 percent will be overweight by 2030. The overabundance of food choices and the high percentage of high-calorie, nutritionally poor food is overwhelming. Teaching children can help reverse this trend.

What’s your favorite place to people watch or explore in Las Vegas?

I enjoy getting out of the city and visiting Lake Mead. I’m an avid hiker, and I enjoy paddleboarding.

Describe your management style.

I am incredibly loyal to my team members, which helps in creating trust and comfort. I also focus on remaining fair and consistent.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

I would live on the north shore of Kauai in Hawaii. I love the weather in Kauai, and I enjoy hiking there.

Whom do you admire?

While many mentors have helped me become the physician I am today, Dr. Henri Ford was one of the biggest influences in my life. As a pediatric surgeon, he taught me the value of integrity, hard work, analytical thinking and communication. We met at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and he currently serves as the dean of the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.

What is something that people might not know about you?

I recently learned to play the ukulele.


This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.