News & Stories


Red Hot Gala Q&A: John Chovanes, DO


John Chovanes, DO is an attending surgeon at Cooper Trauma Center. Dr. Chovanes also serves as a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Corps.

Q: Why did you become a Trauma Center surgeon?

A: I grew up as a volunteer EMT,  first with Narberth Ambulance when I was 13 or 14 years old (I didn’t tell them my real age).  I skipped many of my high school classes because I was too busy volunteering on the ambulance but I did always make it in for chemistry. After high school, I worked as  an emergency medical technician, then a paramedic, and was part of the flight crew on the first medical evacuation helicopter in Philadelphia. I got a degree in nursing and became an emergency department registered nurse – as I watched the surgeons,  I knew that was what I wanted to do. After medical school, I came on board at Cooper and I haven’t looked back since.

Q: What has serving as a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Corps done to help you become a better surgeon? How have you used your military experience to help save lives at Cooper?

A: Over the years, I have served in the US Army Reserve Medical Crops. I completed three tours in Tikrit, Iraq and Khost, Afghanistan. I constantly use my experience from the military in the hospital and vice versa. Those two aspects of my careers have really helped in giving the best care that I can. I have learned a lot from the opportunity to care for many heroes.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of working as a Cooper Trauma Center surgeon?

A: Helping people in a time of need and trying to do that in the best way possible.

Q: What makes Cooper Trauma Center stand out from the other trauma centers in the region? 

A: Cooper Trauma Center was the first of its kind in the region, accredited by the American College of Surgeons early on. And it has stood the test of time. It is one of only three Level 1 Trauma Centers in New Jersey. It covers over 2 million people living in South Jersey. It really is the epicenter for dealing with the seriously injured and wounded.

Q: What do you do to make yourself a better surgeon each day?

A: The support of a loving wife and kids is very important. My incredible mom and dad have given me skills, teaching me to act humanely, compassionately and professionally.

When I’m at work, knowing that everyone at Cooper wants to do the best job possible makes me want to do the best job as well. I could have worked anywhere but I chose to come to Cooper.

Q: What does the future of the Cooper Trauma Center look like in your opinion? Do you see continued growth and development? What type of advancements would you like to see? How do we make those advancements happen?

A: We will continue to be efficient and ensure that there is more rapid delivery of patients. We will have better research on topics like whole blood transfusion, tourniquets and what works and what doesn’t for caring for patients. Hopefully we can ensure that trauma care is delivered quickly. We are always looking for new ways to improve.

I hope that we can help other hospitals in the provision of caring as well. We are in such a unique area that is both urban and rural. I hope that we can get our teaching skills and abilities to other southern Jersey communities.

And we can’t forget the lessons learned in war. We can’t forget about caring for the battlefield wounded.

 Q: How important is the 2015 Red Hot Gala to the Cooper Trauma Center? Will raising money from this event help in making some of those wanted advancements a reality?

A: The Red Hot Gala is crucial. The community support provides funding to the Trauma Center so we can do the best research, give the best care, have the best equipment and create the best environment. We need more Galas!