Resident Profile: Frank Rutigliano, M.D.
Posted on May 24, 2021 by Casandra Andrews
By all counts, Frank Rutigliano, M.D., was on his way to becoming a pharmacist when he had a change of heart.
Rutigliano graduated from Purdue University’s College of Pharmacy in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology. At Purdue, he also took part in breast cancer research, worked as a biology teaching assistant and was a student ambassador for the university.
After being accepted to pharmacy school at Purdue and beginning the program, he began to question his career path.
“I did a lot of soul searching,” he said. “I decided I wanted to have a more active decision-making role in a patient’s care and to interact more with patients on a daily basis.”
After withdrawing from pharmacy school, he was accepted at Indiana University School of Medicine, where he received a medical degree four years later.
He has never looked back.
In 2016, Rutigliano matched into the general surgery residency at USA Health to begin his surgical training. While the trauma program, and Jon Simmons, M.D., drew him to the Alabama Gulf Coast, he said, eventually colorectal surgery became his focus.
“It’s really pretty incredible that you can take a brand new physician and over five years turn them into a surgeon,” he said. “We do a very good job of making safe surgeons here at USA Health. We receive excellent training on how to handle complex surgical problems often on patients with very complicated medical histories.”
Rutigliano credits USA Health colorectal surgeon Leander M. Grimm Jr., M.D., as being a mentor and a driving influence behind his decision to pursue the surgical specialty. Grimm also serves as the director of the general surgery residency program at USA Health.
In mid-June, Rutigliano will complete his five-year residency and head west to Houston for a fellowship in colon and rectal surgery at the University of Texas’ McGovern School of Medicine.
“When I got around to surgery, I fell in love with it,” he said. “I love the process of mentally mapping out steps of a surgery and then being able to compensate and overcome difficulty on the fly when necessary.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Rutigliano served as one of two administrative chiefs for the general surgery residency program.
As he contemplates the past five years, he has a message for younger residents: “Try to soak in as much as possible. The days are long, but the years are short, and your training concludes much faster than you think it will. As a resident, life can come at you rather quickly. Lean on others around you, and find a way to accomplish your tasks.”