Dr. Lee Friedman: From Flight Surgeon to Interventional Radiologist


Envision Physician Services
Envision Physician Services
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In honor of International Day of Radiology, November 8, Envision Physician Services is proud to feature Lee Friedman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Radiology Physician Solutions of Florida, and Executive Regional Medical Director, Envision Radiology Services, West Florida, as part of our ongoing recognition of clinicians who have served their patients – and their country.

Lee Friedman, M.D., originally wanted to be an attorney, but a freak accident led him down a much different path in life. After breaking his leg, collarbone and finger in high school, the surgery needed to repair his injuries sparked an interest in medicine. He initially was interested in a career as an orthopaedic surgeon, but an opportunity to pursue his goals as a commissioned officer in the Navy steered him toward a future as a flight surgeon.

After graduating from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia – paid for by the Navy – Dr. Friedman completed a surgical internship in San Diego before entering flight surgical school and joining the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar outside San Diego.

Treating Patients During Operation Iraqi Freedom

FriedmanIn 2003 during his first year as a flight surgeon, Dr. Friedman spent two months helping build and maintain runways in Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Then in March of that year, his flight squadron moved to the Iraqi border, where they seized an airbase in southern Iraq. They repaired the base and used it to treat patients. In the base’s first week of operation, Dr. Friedman and his team treated 120 casualties, mostly Iraqi soldiers and civilians.  

During his time in uniform, Dr. Friedman developed a course to train Navy Corpsmen for medivac and casualty evacuation missions while in combat, often flying in CH46 and CH53 helicopters. But the most exciting missions, Dr. Friedman said, took place stateside, where he supported NASA space shuttle launches by securing and clearing the shuttle’s fly zone off Cape Canaveral.

“I love flying,” said Dr. Friedman. “I’ve flown everything from small T-34 planes to helicopters to C-130s, which are large cargo and troop transport planes. Supporting and serving my country was an amazing experience.”

Transitioning from Surgery to Radiology

FriedmanDr. Friedman completed his service in 2005. A radiology rotation during medical school had piqued his interest, so he completed a residency in the discipline. His military experience impacted his residency and continues to influence his practice today. He has been able to share the knowledge he gained in the military about biological weapons like anthrax with his civilian colleagues to ensure the hospital is better prepared.

“As a flight surgeon, I had to develop confidence quickly and learn when to ask for help from people with more experience,” Dr. Friedman explained. “When I came back for my residency, I was naturally more mature and already had leadership skills I learned while in the military.”

After working as an interventional radiologist in private practice, Dr. Friedman joined Envision Physician Services in November 2012. Coming from a small practice with limited resources, Dr. Friedman said he appreciates Envision’s leadership model, which supports clinical leaders and provides resources for managing the business side of medicine.

“The resources that Envision has in terms of things like information technology, billing and management are unmatched,” Dr. Friedman said. “And for a physician moving into a management role, the leadership model is helpful because you work side by side with someone who is focused on the same goals. I have learned so much about the business side of medicine since joining Envision.”

Like in his military role, Dr. Friedman continues to respect the views of more seasoned colleagues: “Doctors can learn a lot from nurses, techs and the rest of the team,” he said. “The other people in the room always have something important to offer.”

Improving Life in His Community

FriedmanWhile Dr. Friedman has already served his country, he continues to serve his community in personal ways – as a coach for his daughter’s soccer team and by applying his experience as an Eagle Scout to volunteer as an assistant scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts. Dr. Friedman also welcomes local high school students interested in careers in medicine to shadow him while he’s working clinically. Professionally, he is a member of Pinellas County Medical Association, Society of Interventional Radiology, American College of Radiology and Radiological Society of North America.

“Serving our country has made me more confident, and I’m a better physician from the experience,” said Dr. Friedman, the father of four girls. “I am thankful for my wife Amy’s support through the years. I love what I do. It’s a good lifestyle, and I’m grateful for it.”