Burnout? Not a problem for Paul Burkhart, DO. Whenever the stress of practicing medicine gets to him, Burkhart turns to the silver balls, flippers, and flashing lights at his “barcade.”
Explore This IssueFebruary 2021
During the day, Dr. Burkhart is a partner physician at Ohio ENT & Allergy Physicians in Columbus, Ohio. But as a pinball fanatic, he’s also the owner of Level One Bar and Arcade, a pinball and video game emporium and bar in Columbus, Ohio. The business is stocked with nearly 20 pinball machines and dozens of video games from his own personal collection, as well as a couple of Skee-Ball lanes.
“I’ve seen a lot of colleagues who complain about burnout, and thankfully I’ve never really felt that,” he said. He has found that running a successful bar and arcade while working in medicine is the perfect way to combat stress. “It’s using two sides of your brain,” he explained “Medicine and bar ownership complement each other. If it gets really tough in one area, you can go to the other thing for a while. I’ve never considered stopping either one.”
Creating a Pinball Wizard
Burkhart grew up in Carlisle, Penn. “I’m old enough that when I was younger, arcades had pinball machines, and I became a pinball junkie—I loved it,” he said. “I would mow lawns and run a paper route to get rolls of quarters at the bank to play.” He steadily fed those quarters into the machines at the local mall arcade, although his favorite was the Gold Strike machine at the Carlisle YMCA.
Dr. Burkhart also pursued other interests as he grew up. He played on his high school and college tennis teams and long considered medicine as a career, following in the footsteps of his uncle and aunt, both ophthalmologists. He attended Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, where his father taught speech and communications, and explored different subjects. “In college, I started out as a history major, then business, then psychology, but all the while I took basic science classes so I could also be pre-med,” said Dr. Burkhart. He found his connection after learning about osteopathic medicine during a presentation at Shippensburg, “I liked what they were saying about the holistic view of the body,” he said. He applied to several osteopathy programs and eventually graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine with a doctorate in osteopathy.
Dr. Burkhart discovered a passion for otolaryngology after completing an ophthalmology rotation. “Because of my aunt and uncle’s focus, I kind of thought I’d be an ophthalmologist too, but I found out it’s basically [dealing with] cataract after cataract,” he said. “It’s fine, but it didn’t appeal to me.”
His next rotation was otolaryngology, and it was there he found his specialty. “I did otolaryngology for two weeks not expecting anything,” Dr. Burkhart said. “I was with a busy surgeon in Philadelphia, and I loved it. I saw kids, middle-aged people, the elderly. It was so diverse and there were so many options.”
Today Dr. Burkhart is a generalist at Ohio ENT & Allergy Physicians in Columbus. “What I enjoy the most is pediatrics—tubes, tonsils, and the interaction with the kids,” he said. “I also enjoy nasal sinus surgery and basic laryngology.”