A former collegiate and semi-professional soccer player, Nicholas (Nick) LeBlanc, MD, earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. He then attended Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans.
“I’ve always had an appreciation for the human body and its impressive capabilities, from athletic endeavors to the disease state and everything in between,” Dr. LeBlanc says. “Early on, I knew I wanted to devote myself to learning about it and using that knowledge to help people.”
When he befriended a general surgeon in medical school, Dr. LeBlanc knew where he would help people. In the operating room.
A Doctor on a Mission
To finish his studies, Dr. LeBlanc completed a residency in general surgery at Virginia Tech-Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, Virginia. This was followed by fellowship training in thoracic (chest) surgery at the University of Manitoba Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, Canada.
Since joining Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group, Dr. LeBlanc has felt he’s where he belongs. According to him, the thoracic surgery department is a family.
“Our advanced care providers all share the same goal,” Dr. LeBlanc says. “We work together to provide patient-centered care and the best possible results.”
To reach this goal, Dr. LeBlanc and his colleagues make use of advanced surgical techniques, including robotic assistance. While many thoracic surgeries once required large incisions and long hospital stays, robot-assisted surgeries changed that.
With the help of surgical robots, Dr. LeBlanc can perform many procedures with small incisions. This leads to less pain, reduced time spent in the hospital and faster recovery.
Recently, thoracic surgery has made tremendous advances. For Dr. LeBlanc, these advances have led him to have a particular interest in esophageal surgery.
Just a few years ago, precancerous lesions and early-stage cancers were removed from the esophagus by performing a major operation and resulted in lengthy hospitalization. Today, the procedure can be done through a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope. The surgeon guides the tube down the throat to the site of the mass. The surgeon then removes the suspicious or cancerous area leaving no external incisions or visible scars.
Should a patient require esophagectomy (removal of the esophagus), the robot is put to use. Again, a minimal invasion with a quick recovery.
For Dr. LeBlanc, this is a reason to celebrate. It’s also part of what draws him to thoracic surgery.
Thankful to Be Home
On top of surgical robots, being with Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group has another appeal. For Dr. LeBlanc, Louisiana is home. Originally from Lafayette, he’s grateful to work near his family and friends, where he can enjoy his Cajun roots and bask in the community’s resolve and joie de vivre!
Over the years, Dr. LeBlanc has competed in several triathlons and other endurance races. Now that he’s back in Louisiana, he plans to compete in as many local races as possible. His goal? Finish an Ironman-distance triathlon in less than 10 hours. (That’s 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking and 26.2 miles running.)
Between training sessions, Dr. LeBlanc can be found hanging out with family, all of whom live in Louisiana. An avid traveler, his favorite trip was to Botswana in southern Africa. He made the trip to visit a college roommate. Together, they went to Rustenburg, South Africa and attended the 2010 FIFA World Cup as the US Men’s team (and another of Dr. LeBlanc’s college roommates) took on Ghana.
What other passions does Dr. LeBlanc have? Animals. He currently has an Australian shepherd named Chloe and a calico cat, Ophelia. And when he found an abandoned squirrel, he rescued her, raised her and named her Petunia.
“If I wasn’t practicing human medicine, I would want to be a veterinarian,” Dr. LeBlanc says. “In fact, whenever I retire from surgery, I plan to volunteer in a veterinary clinic.”
But don’t worry. That’s not happening any time soon. Surrounded by family and friends in the community he loves, Dr. LeBlanc looks forward to serving his neighbors for years to come.