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Doctors' Day profile: Frank Gaffney, M.D. goes from selling furniture to healing hearts

(March 30 is National Doctors’ Day. Oklahoma Heart Institute would like to thank our physicians for the dedication and passion they show for their patients. In honor of National Doctors’ Day, we would like to noninvasive cardiologist Frank Gaffney, D.O.)

Frank Gaffney, M.D., has established himself as a noninvasive cardiologist at Oklahoma Heart Institute for the past 16 years. But his journey into the medical field is anything but typical for the New York native who began his professional career in the retail industry.

“When I first became a physician, I didn’t know if I had the ability to handle the academic load,” Gaffney said. “To become an expert in a complex subject matter has been almost unthinkable when I think of where I started from.”

Born on Long Island, Gaffney graduated with a psychology degree, a degree he never used. Instead, he opted to sell furniture. That decision afforded Gaffney a home in the Hamptons and a life many would admire.

But something was missing.

“I was living a normal middle-class life, but was completely unfulfilled,” Gaffney said.

Around this time, Gaffney’s mother fell ill, which first piqued his interest in medicine.

“I think everybody who goes into medicine with the sense they will be able to care for their loved ones,” Gaffney said.

Gaffney went back to college, this time at Stony Brook University in New York to get into medical school. He later took a scholarship from the U.S. Army while attending Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. It was during this time Gaffney met his current wife, Catherine Gaffney, D.O., a Tulsa native.

Following his residency in internal medicine, Frank Gaffney again changed gears, this time switching his focus to cardiology. He spent three years in Fort Hood, Texas to fulfill his military commitment, then, at age 42, began his fellowship at Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas.

“One of the things about cardiology is we are so technically-driven. Cardiology had so many things they were doing,” Gaffney said. “I wasn’t done learning and evolving, so it was just a natural fit.”

After his time in Texas, Gaffney’s wife brought him back to her hometown of Tulsa and eventually to Oklahoma Heart Institute. The medical field is now a family business for the Gaffneys with Catherine at Utica Park Clinic. Two of their three daughters, Montana and Madeline, work as a scheduler and RN, respectively.

While Gaffney’s path to become a physician may have taken some twists and turns along the way, he could not be more pleased with where the journey has led him.

“One the tales of my life is you can redirect yourself at any step of the way,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of delayed gratification (in becoming a doctor). The journey, for me, has been completely rewarding.”