It takes a skilled doctor to ease a worried patient’s mind. After all, no one visits the doctor for fun. You go because something’s wrong or because you’re afraid something’s wrong. You’re looking for hope in the midst of pain, for answers when your own body feels unknown and uncertain. In these moments of stress and anxiety, a good doctor—with a comforting word and a desire to meet patients where they are—can have an incredible emotional and physical impact.
For Eric Jepson, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Colorado Springs Orthopedic Group (CSOG), this is the most critical and challenging facet of his job. For him, fixing the body is easy; the hard part is gaining trust and making patients feel cared for.
When I sat down to talk with Dr. Jespon in CSOG’s south office a few weeks ago, I experienced first-hand how relational he is. There’s something about him that exudes not only kindness and understanding but relatability and genuine interest in others. He has a keen listening ear, and though I came to his office to interview him, I was surprised when he often flipped questions back on me. How long have I lived in Colorado Springs? Do I love the outdoors? How did I handle my first Colorado winter? He wanted to get to know me, and I felt seen.
This small interaction is just a sampling of how Dr. Jepson interacts with patients daily. But to him, making patients comfortable and being present for them is fundamental to his day-to-day work. Anyone can work with a scalpel or heal a wound if they study hard enough, but learning to connect with others relationally? That’s what makes a stand-out physician.
“You need to spend time with your patients,” he says. “It’s not always easy. It’s hard and emotional. I’m probably more tired when I go home after a day in the clinic than I am after a day of surgery. But it’s important for patients to feel like they can share their individual needs with me and have faith in me.”
Dr. Jepson has been working with CSOG since 2007, specializing in hip and knee replacements. However, his roots in Colorado Springs—and the city’s medical community—run much deeper. Born and raised in Colorado Springs, he has seen the city transform over the decades.
Dr. Jepson was introduced to the world of medicine at a young age. His father worked as an ophthalmologist in town for 45 years, so he grew up surrounded by a tight-knit medical community. As he got older and started to consider his future profession, it was clear that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. “I would sometimes veer here or there, but at the end of the day, it always came back to medicine,” he says.
As Dr. Jepson progressed in his studies, he was drawn to orthopedics because of how tangible it felt. “If something’s broken, you fix it,” he laughs. “It’s very much my speed.”
He left Colorado Springs for several years to pursue his degree and get field experience, spending time in California, Missouri, Michigan, and Florida. However, he found that he missed the city and the outdoors once he was gone. “Having grown up here, I took it for granted,” Dr. Jepson says. “I left, and I realized how much I liked it. So when I eventually came back, I wanted to take advantage of the mountains and living here as much as possible.”
When he returned to his hometown to work for CSOG 16 years ago, he was surprised to discover how much the city had changed. Colorado Springs had broadened its diversity with the arrival of more and more new citizens, and with that came a greater open-mindedness to new ideas, mindsets, and cultures. Downtown similarly expanded. In the past, it felt like businesses came and left. Now, local restaurants and shops have thrived with greater support from the community, and the area has become a hub for visitors and locals to meet up.
To Dr. Jepson, the city feels more vibrant than ever before. However, becoming a larger city doesn’t come without struggles. As the population grows, there is more pressure for healthcare to keep up. Though there has been an increase in hospitals and healthcare workers, especially up north, there is still a need for more medical professionals and training in the area.
“We are the 40th largest city in the country now, but we really don’t have any postgraduate training,” Dr. Jepson says. “We are probably the largest city in America that doesn’t have that. We don’t have enough orthopedists for the population. So we have to do a better job of keeping up, and I think that is probably true across the board.”
One of the best things about Colorado Springs for Dr. Jepson is its medical community and the quality healthcare available, especially at CSOG. Since CSOG is unique as an independent group, it can be a one-stop shop for orthopedics, with everything they need—MRIs, physical therapy, and an urgent care clinic all under one roof.
“Because we are independent, we can do a better job for cheaper, streamlining the healthcare process for patients,” Dr. Jepson says. “We’re able to ensure that people are well cared for all in one place, and I think that’s the future. We want to be part of the solution for people, not the problem.”
Orthopedic surgery and care can have a powerful impact on a patient’s life. The function of your knees and hips is vital to performing basic tasks. Simply walking across a room or bending down to pick something up can become a monumental and painful undertaking when a joint is injured or infected. With a surgical replacement, patients not only have the ability to move freely, but they can start to live their lives fully again.
“It’s incredibly rewarding to take someone who is really impacted—they’re sick or have an infected joint—and walk with them through the long process to get them on the other side,” Dr. Jepson says. “We can give people their quality of life back, from being unable to walk to now they can play pickleball again. That’s why I do what I do.”
For Dr. Jepson, the core of his practice has always been tied to people. Whether it is making an unhappy patient smile or listening as someone voices their concerns or needs, it all comes back to building trust and holding patients’ hands through their journey and recovery.
“I learned this from my dad,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what happens to healthcare. It doesn’t matter how much you get paid. At the end of the day, the most important thing is taking care of people and doing good.”