American Board of Orthopedic Surgery
Fellow, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
“It’s an exciting time to be in orthopedic surgery,” Dr. Jimmy Tamai says, as he enthusiastically describes new developments in the field. “With these advancements, we can help patients to have faster, more complete recoveries from injuries and other traumas in arms, legs, joints and tendons.”
Dr. Tamai is an orthopedic surgeon at The Surgery Center of Fairbanks in addition to heading up his own practice at Orthopaedic Surgical Associates in Fairbanks.
He notes that procedures which were required to be performed in a hospital not long ago can now be completed as an outpatient at The Surgery Center, with patients returning home the same day. Some of the most common orthopedic procedures he performs in an outpatient setting range from repair of small bone fractures, injures to soft tissues, biceps, elbows and Achilles tendons, to knee, hand, finger and ankle trauma. He says many of his patients are referred by their primary care physicians after reporting, “Something popped in my leg.”
The many advancements in orthopedics have caused a major paradigm shift in treatment methods, says Dr. Tamai. The exploding growth of arthroscopic surgery is only one example. “Many of the patients I see today are choosing joint arthroscopies on ankles, knees, elbows and shoulders as non-traumatic, elective procedures for activity and lifestyle improvements.”
Dr. Tamai is also working with Dr. Stewart Kerr, an Anchorage specialist in neck and spine surgery and complex trauma, to develop this treatment proficiency in Fairbanks, again eliminating travel to larger cities. These new treatments will be fully in place at The Surgery Center by fall 2019.
In addition to his medical practice, Dr. Tamai spends time as a musician. He studied wind and brass instruments during school with a career goal of becoming a musician. At the same time, he was active in football and other sports, and an injury caused loss of his front teeth. When he was no longer able to play the instruments, he turned to medicine — to the advantage and appreciation of his many patients throughout the years.
The passion for music continued; however, and he is now a member of Encore Alaska, a Fairbanks music group that includes several professors from UAF. Dr. Tamai is a vocalist and performs with Encore throughout the community, often with the group contributing their talents to benefits and fundraisers, as well as performing at weddings and a variety of other events. Music genres range from pop to rhythm and blues. Dr. Tamai has traveled with the group throughout Europe, with performances in venues from night clubs to the Vatican. He says, “It has truly been an awesome experience for me to perform with such outstanding local musicians.” Dr. Tamai also sings with the opera and light opera productions in Fairbanks when there is an opportunity.
Jimmy M. Tamai, MD
“I’ve lived and practiced orthopedic surgery in Fairbanks for 27 years. It has been my privilege to serve our community professionally and I look forward to continuing.”
Dr. Tamai was born and raised in the small farming community of Oxnard, California. He completed his undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Nevada, earned his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine (New Orleans), and completed his internship at St. Francis Medical Center (University of Illinois) and residency in Orthopedic Surgery at Brooke Army Medical Center (San Antonio).
Dr. Tamai arrived in Fairbanks in 1992 and served as a Staff Orthopedic Surgeon at Bassett Army Community Hospital. After his military service, he worked at the Tanana Valley Clinic for 12 years followed by 4 years as an orthopedic surgeon at Advanced Medical Centers of Alaska. He started his own practice, Orthopaedic Surgical Associates, LLC, in 2009.
He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and Fellow with the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.