northern nevada business weekly

Exchanging a job for a passion: A neurosurgeon’s story

John Seelmeyer, 9/12/2011

Christopher Demers sat in a hospital room in 1996, waiting while his wife, Linda, gave birth to the couple’s first son.

Waiting and thinking, actually.

Waiting and thinking and preparing to make a breath-taking decision, all the more breath-taking because of the increased responsibilities that he would face as a father.

Christopher Demers prepared to chuck a successful, good-paying career in marketing and go back to school.

And not just any school. Medical school.

Today, Max, the son who was born that day, is a freshman at Reno High School. And Demers, who decided to start over, is starting over as a neurosurgeon in practice with Sierra Neurosurgery Group in Reno. For months before he sat in that hospital waiting room some 15 years ago, Demers had known that he needed to change direction.

A native of New Hampshire, he earned a degree in English from the University of Chicago and got a job in the financial services industry. Within a few years, he had landed a job in the marketing department of Citicorp Diners Club. The job proved less than fulfilling.

“I knew I wasn’t really happy doing what I was doing,” says Demers, who like many people began to think about a career change, but — again like many people — didn’t get serious enough to do much more than think about the possibilities.

An epiphany arrived in the hospital waiting room.

Demers looked around and saw people doing exactly what he had established as his goal: A lifetime of challenging work.

“I wanted to wake up in the morning and say, ‘I love what I do,” he says.