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Gary Simonds

“Let's talk about neuroscience, medicine, burnout, education, science and spirituality, the paranormal, death and dying, and my latest book”


About Me

I am a neurosurgeon, author, educator, and public speaker. I am the former Chief of Neurosurgery at Virginia Tech and am currently a professor and advisor at the medical school and at the School of Neuroscience. I have cared for tens of thousands of patients at level 1 trauma centers and have taught learners from junior high school students to practicing brain surgeons. I have a number of keen interests including those listed above as well as healthcare socioeconomics, access to healthcare, malpractice, bad doctors, getting into and thriving in healthcare graduate schools, speaking with patients, breaking bad news, compassionate care, grief, leadership, professionalism and more.

I have written and given talks nationally on burnout and building resilience. I have recently published and have given many interviews on a novel, "Death's Pale Flag." In it a brain surgeon's life comes unglued when he is visited by an escalating series of ghosts. I also have begun writing blogs for Psychology Today.

I am very comfortable with audiences of any size and any type, and am known for a warm, easy-going, and irreverent approach to interviews and talks. I very much like to challenge audiences to think outside the box and engage their critical thinking and inherent skepticism.

Reviews of Death's Pale Flag:

by Author Martin Clark:

Death’s Pale Flag is pretty darn amazing, just a delight, a book by a real-life neurosurgeon who can write like nobody’s business (think James Lee Burke or John Hart), who has built a smart, clever, challenging story (think Roland Merullo), and who—no surprise here—takes readers on a fascinating and often heartbreaking private tour of what it’s like to patch up people’s brains and spines. This is a ghost story that’ll make you cry and a marriage tale worthy of John Cheever that’ll scare the daylights out of you. A big hat tip and a deep bow to Gary Simonds—I was moved and entertained, and more important perhaps, I’m a little better person for having spent time with Ryan Brenan. Definitely five-star work.

by Kirkus:

“A fantastic medical and supernatural thriller with a memorable hero.” “The supernatural elements are well developed and believable, creating scenes of insanity that feel truly consequential. Readers will be drawn in by the novel’s great characters, steady pace, and satisfying ending.”

by Burnout Expert Wayne Sotile:

This book is magnificent. While weaving a fascinating paranormal mystery tale, Gary Simonds has artfully depicted the pain and poignancy (and nobility) of life in neurosurgery, both for the surgeon and his/her spouse/family. Like all good art, he engages the reader, then takes them on not just a narratively-described but an emotionally-cathected journey; the relentlessness of brain surgeon, Ryan’s work/life and existential/humanistic conflicts are grueling to experience, as is the endless compassion and questioning that his wife, Kelly, must live with. In fact, despite the increasingly unsettling paranormal events and the heart-racing peeks into the neurosurgery universe, the heart of this novel lies in the Brenan’s struggle to save their marriage.

Lovers of medical trillers will enjoy the accurate portrayal of the minute to minute critical decision making involved in caring for the tidal waves of sick and injured patients crashing upon our hospitals every day. Lovers of ghost stories will savor this story of a man who is relentlessly and inexplicably haunted, rather than a dilapidated house or mist-laden hollow. And, this is a novel that should be assigned reading for anyone who wants to explore the fallout of workaholic overcommitment to even the most noble of causes, and those who wish to TRULY understand life in medicine and life in a “medical family.”

A number of my interviews are featured on this page of my website:

Please check out my pieces on Psychology Today Online

Discover More

Gary R Simonds

Author, Educator, Surgeon, Speaker

Death’s Pale Flag

By Gary Simonds Brain surgeon and unlikely war hero, Ryan Brenan, has it all. A booming practice, a beautiful home in an idyllic setting, and a happy loving family. Then, the apparitions begin. Sub…

Gary R. Simonds: books, biography, latest update

Follow Gary R. Simonds and explore their bibliography from's Gary R. Simonds Author Page.

Gary R Simonds MD MS FAANS

Gary Simonds, M.D., teaches medical school and undergraduate neuroscience courses at Virginia Tech. He is the author of three books on burnout and resilience, as well as the novel Death’s Pale Flag.

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