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Backfield in Motion

Monday, October 31, 2011

This alumnus loves his up close and personal view of Dallas Cowboys games, but realizes his family is his own home team.

by Donna Parker

Andrew Clavenna, M.D., who received a degree in biochemistry from Trinity in 1996, has a million-dollar view of the Dallas Cowboys team, making any fan jealous but this energetic orthopedic surgeon who walks the sidelines during every home game takes it all in stride.

"In my five years on the sidelines, thankfully, I've only been called onto the field twice for potential serious spinal injuries," explains Andrew, spinal consultant for the Dallas Cowboys football team.

"One event that I was involved in was the Valley Ranch practice facility collapsed a few years back. I was relaxing at home when it happened and I ended up at Parkland Hospital that night performing surgery."

Andrew, who spends serious time on the field during football season, gets to Cowboys stadium early and stays late. He also is part owner of The Carrell Clinic, a private practice specializing in orthopedics and sports medicine, which he runs with more than a dozen partners.

It's the culmination of many years spent in training. After Trinity, he attended medical school at LSU Shreveport where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. Then came an internship and residency at Parkland Hospital in Dallas and a fellowship at the Los Angeles Spine Surgery Institute.

Learning how doctors operate-in and out of surgery-proved critical when his youngest daughter, Chloe, underwent open-heart surgery in Houston while still a toddler. It also set the tone for how he would eventually run his own clinic.

"I run my practice family first-even my employees know that."

"Work is just that-work. Family is first and I've found that approach makes the work atmosphere much more family-friendly for everyone," says this proud dad.

"Also, I conduct a service-oriented practice to make the patients feel more like family. There is much higher satisfaction for both doctor and patient; something that is getting lost in medicine today. I sit down and talk with my patients first, for as long as it takes. Surgery is always a last resort."

"The simple truth is-once a newborn comes into your life for the first time, it changes your perspective on life completely," says Andrew, who continues, "I'm most proud of our family. It's something my wife, Meredith Gilbert Clavenna '95, and I strive for-to operate as a family unit even though I'm away a lot of the time."

Meredith is a stay-at-home mom to Chloe, now a healthy and happy 5-year-old and her older sister, Sophia, 6. The family loves to hang out together and just have fun.

It all started on the Trinity campus, where Andrew and Meredith met, marrying just after his graduation.

"The great thing about Trinity was that you knew everyone in the school and vice versa. It really fostered friendship and everything that goes along with it."

On the academic side, Andrew says Trinity's professors prepared him well for the world of medicine.

"My adviser, Dr. Ben Plummer, department of chemistry, hired me to do research and enabled me to see the true realities of what I was planning for my career. He also helped me put the pieces together to apply and get into med school."

"Most importantly," laughs Andrews, "It's where I met my wife and life really began. I'm so proud of my family and spending happy times with them. That will be my personal goal for the rest of my life."

You may contact Andrew at aclavenna [at] WBCarrellClinic.com.