Sen. Rand Paul was a doctor before he was a politician and he spent part of his spring recess in the operating room, keeping in practice for what he says is the day he returns to medicine.
Paul, a Republican from Kentucky who is believed to also have his eye on the White House, performed pro-bono cataract surgeries on Tuesday for four patients who do not have insurance at an eye-surgery clinic in Paducah, Ky., during Congress’ current spring recess.
It’s “an amazing thing to see someone sit up and be able to see better,” Paul, an opthalmologist, told CNN. The pro bono work helps the senator keep his surgical skills sharp so he can eventually return to the medical field, he said.
The procedure, Paul said, can normally range from $5,000 to $8,000.
Paul is a graduate of Duke University School of Medicine. Before entering Congress, he practiced as an ophthalmologist for 17 years in Bowling Green, Ky.
In 1995, the senator founded the Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic, an organization that provides eye exams and surgery to needy families and individuals.
Since Senate ethics rules prohibit Paul from practicing medicine for profit while he’s in Congress, Paul has performed several pro-bono surgeries over the past few years.
The senator told Politico that performing the surgeries was a nice break from his work on Capitol Hill. “Nobody is arguing about anything today. We just decided what was wrong and we all came to the same conclusion pretty quickly and we worked together. It’s kind of unfortunate [that in] politics we don’t get a little more of that,” he said.
“I guess my frustration in politics [is] even when we agree on things,” Paul added, “we can’t anything done in Washington, and that is disappointing to me.”
The Kentucky senator who is a potential candidate for the 2016 presidential election recently revealed in an interview that he could see himself going back to being a doctor again at some point.
“I think that we need to have people who are willing to reclaim their place in regular life after politics and not just say, ‘You go into politics and that’s what you’re going to do forever,’” Paul told CNN. “So I envision myself coming back to Kentucky and practicing medicine at some point.”
In August, Paul plans to travel to Guatemala where he will perform similar surgeries with a group of surgeons from the University of Utah. Together they plan on performing some 200 surgeries in three days.
“We’re excited about that,” the senator said. “I operated on a bunch of kids, oh, 15 years ago in Guatemala. Some of them are grown now.”