Dr. Anthony Scarpaci Ends Up Where He Started Out
Tony Scarpaci grew up in Whitman Square, a subdivision in Washington Township, where his parents – retired schoolteachers – still live. Now a resident of Haddonfield, Dr. Scarpaci is the newest medical oncologist on staff at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Washington Township (SKCC-WT).
A 1997 graduate of Washington Township High School, Scarpaci’s interest in medicine goes back to his teen years, when he took part in a program called Medical Explorers that introduced high school kids to medical careers at then-Kennedy Memorial Hospital and UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine (now RowanSOM).
“At the time, both of my parents had orthopedic problems, so I thought that orthopedics or neurosurgery would be right for me,” says Scarpaci, adding that he later discovered each medical specialty has its own “personality.” The Medical Explorers program ignited an interest in medicine that followed him in college.
As a student at the University of Delaware, Scarpaci majored in biochemistry and met his soon-to-be wife Laura, as well as fellow student Michael Rotkowicz, now his physician colleague at the SKCC-WT. Scarpaci’s pre-med program at Delaware, called Med Scholars, guaranteed acceptance at Jefferson Medical College after four successful years of undergraduate studies.
Through Med Scholars, Scarpaci had an opportunity to work in forensic pathology, and also spent time in the Christiana Hospital ER, which spurred an interest in Emergency Medicine. He went to medical school with that specialty in mind; however, the Emergency Department rotations – although exciting – were missing one important thing for him: continuity of care.
Toward the end of medical school, he came to the conclusion that Emergency Medicine might not be the right choice for him.
Finding His Passion
“I preferred the idea of working with patients over a period of time, getting to know them as people and managing their ongoing care needs.” Scarpaci found that feeling of continuity of care with the cardiac patients presenting in the ER. He rearranged his last year of medical school to include a lot of internal medicine and cardiology rotations,” recalls Scarpaci.
As fate would have it, Scarpaci had a change of heart yet again after his oncology rotations in residency. An interest in long-term management of patients with challenging diseases was the deciding factor. “That has been a driving force for me. I really love having the long-term patient management.”
Interacting with Patients
In the oncology field, Dr. Scarpaci explains you have to be very good at talking to people about tough things and be able to help your patients through very difficult times,” he says.
After completing his residency, Dr. Scarpaci was an Attending Physician at Einstein Medical Center from 2011-2015, then spent almost five years at Abington Jefferson Health.
Back to His Roots
The opportunity to work at the SKCC-WT offered Scarpaci a chance to help expand the new practice in Gloucester County. The idea of being able to provide great care where he grew up is also an added plus for Dr. Scarpaci.
Dr. Scarpaci, a married father of two young daughters, Sarah, 9, and Ella, 5, describes his care philosophy as “holistic.”
“I tend to be very conversational with my patients,” says Scarpaci. “When I’m taking care of someone, I want to make sure I’m understanding not only what’s medically going on, but also how the disease fits into their life and how it’s affecting them. And I also want to make sure that they understand their options as a patient and the care plan. I want them to be active participants in their experience with us.”
To make an appointment with Dr. Scarpaci, or to learn more about the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center - Washington Township, call 856-557-7900.