By Mercy's Todd Nighswonger
The two OB-GYN doctors at Mercy Clinic Women’s Health in Joplin, Missouri, are celebrating National Best Friends Day on June 8 about 10 years after they met as medical students at St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine in the Cayman Islands. That friendship also led them to the same residency program, where they first discussed the idea of working together.
“It was kind of just a dream when we first talked about it,” Dr. Manley said.
It was during their residencies at Central Michigan University Healthcare when the two trained in robotic surgery for gynecology procedures. Dr. Manley performed about 180 robotic surgeries, the most of any resident in the United States at the time, only to be topped by Dr. Merkley the following year with by a few surgeries.
That accomplishment led an attending physician to dub them the “Dynamic Duo” because they both focused on robotic surgery and spent a lot of time together.
“We worked together as much as possible and would observe each other operate,” Dr. Merkley said.
Dr. Manley was recruited to help start Mercy’s robotic program. Although the program’s launch was delayed after a newly arrived robot was damaged in the May 22, 2011, tornado that destroyed the hospital, he still wanted to join Mercy and now is the women’s health department chair.
Dr. Merkley had an Army commitment to fulfill after his residency, then joined Mercy late last year and at last is teamed up with Dr. Manley.
“When I got recruited to Mercy, I told (Dr. Merkley) that this place is pretty awesome and would love to have him join me in the practice,” Dr. Manley said. “It finally all fell in place.”
“We’re so similar in the way we do things, are easy to approach and have the same practice style and bedside manner,” Dr. Merkley said. “Both of us doing robotic surgery is just a plus.”