Meet Dr. Burden
Combining a nimble intellect with compassion and empathy, Dr. William Burden embodies the ideal traits of a plastic surgeon. Since establishing Destin Plastic Surgery east of Pensacola, Florida, Dr. Burden has remained a visionary and innovator, using his experience and training to adapt top-of-the-line technology for the benefit of his patients. At the same time, he's a down-to-earth, devoted family man who coaches youth basketball and is a hands-on dad. He's creative, possessing a sense of aesthetics that comes naturally, and, at his core, he's a people person.
"You go into medicine because you like engaging people," says Dr. Burden, a board-certified plastic surgeon whose practice serves Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee, and Northwest Florida at large. "You have to enjoy making those connections. You should consider helping others a privilege and a responsibility."
You can meet with Dr. Burden personally to discuss the cosmetic procedure you're considering by requesting a consultationrequesting a consultation online or calling Destin Plastic Surgery at
As a high school student, you were chosen to participate in special anatomy classes. Were you already thinking about becoming a doctor at that point?
I was influenced by NASA and the lunar landings. My algebra II/trigonometry teacher, Mr. Taylor, had experience with programming computers in the military. He was able to recommend me to advanced computer courses at our Science Center and to advanced anatomy classes at The Medical College of Virginia. At the time, I did not realize how these classes would greatly influence my life.
When did the focus turn to plastic surgery?
I attended college with 2 prospects in mind: 1) computer systems engineering; 2) medical school. As I went through the classes, I realized that I would rather be involved with people and have a chance to make a positive influence in their lives directly as a surgeon. During my anatomy classes at The Medical College, I worked with several plastic surgeons who had impressed me with their technical abilities, their precision, and their ability to restore function after injuries.
What's a typical work day like?
A typical day with me starts at night. I clear my mind and sleep on a larger thought — "What can I do tomorrow to make for a better day?" Every morning I wake up refreshed and read. I check my email and make appointments in Outlook for upcoming astronomical events. The space lab flies over occasionally in the morning and is very easy to see over the Gulf of Mexico. I'll read plastic surgery articles or prepare for a presentation or for basketball practice.
Joan and I usually see patients who are on their way to work in the morning. Then surgeries are scheduled. In the afternoon, I see patients. This is when the fun begins. I enjoy seeing people in various stages of their surgical journey, but the final visit is my favorite! The patients are so happy and they really enjoy seeing their before and after pictures!
What about when you're not in scrubs, consulting with patients, or in meetings?
At home is where the real work begins. I've always been a part of my children's educational process — tutoring them in everything from basic sciences to Spanish, advanced physics, calculus, and chemistry. My wife, Pam, and I like to cook. We each have our own kitchens. You may see us on cable soon with our cook-off show starting in the spring.
Another passion is coaching basketball. I played basketball with my children to get them interested in sports. Many of their friends started coming over to play and this led to me coaching rec league teams. Eventually, I had the opportunity to coach AAU basketball and middle school basketball. Our middle school team won the district championship in 2013.
Is there a key to being a successful surgeon?
I think the key to being successful in whatever endeavor you pursue in life is the same. The people who have been entrusted to your care have to be taken care of as if they were you or your family member. You cannot be lackadaisical. You must pay attention to details and respond to people appropriately. In summary, you have to care about what you are doing.
You have numerous interests in addition to plastic surgery — building design, art, computer technology. Are you just naturally curious?
I think it's important to be engaged in life. We all have our jobs, our families, and things we like to do. Don't let those things limit other interests. For example, growing up I didn't have the time or money to take music lessons. I started taking guitar lessons for fun a few years ago. I involved my children in these lessons, and now we are all more musically inclined.
I understand you wrote a song for your wife?
Our 20th wedding anniversary was approaching. I was listening to some country music and thought of the fun times I have had with my wife in Louisiana dancing to Cajun waltzes. This inspired a poem to my wife. I tried to highlight some of the wonderful moments we've had in the poem. I had a basic tune in my head and played it for my guitar instructor. He embellished the tune and then we had a song.
It really all comes back to being engaged in life. As you pursue interests and open doors, they will quite often lead to another door, and before you know it, you have expanded yourself in an area that you would never have thought of.