The Art of Patience and Pitching Heart Healthy Lifestyles from a Cardiac EP | Cardiology Magazine
Profile | Andrew Lawrence, MD, FACC, is a cardiac electrophysiologist (EP) at Illinois Heart and Vascular, which is where he ended up after a long road that ultimately began with sales when he was a young boy. Like most physicians, Lawrence draws on his experiences — and lessons from mentors — when facing the daily challenges of providing quality patient care. Cardiology recently talked with Lawrence about his path to becoming an EP.
Why did you decide to study medicine?
I thrived on the one-on-one interaction with customers and enjoyed helping them find what they needed while selling outdoor gear at a young age. As I entered high school, I intended to be an engineer like my father; however, I soon found that my interests were in biology and chemistry rather than math and physics. My mother encouraged me by facilitating a trip to a research lab where a friend of hers worked. I studied biochemistry and cell biology at the University of California, San Diego, not knowing what I would do after I finished my undergraduate degree. Medicine was a natural fit with my academic interest and involved a love of personal interaction that I have had since I was very young. There is more than a little salesmanship involved in convincing someone to take their health seriously.
How did you become interested in the field of cardiology?
Trial and error. I found that I liked to work with my hands, as well as my mind. Most of the surgical programs that I was familiar with were far too abusive to the trainees. While family practice offered personal interaction and mental stimulation, it didn’t seem to have enough of the high stress situations to which I found myself drawn. Internal medicine had the most options in terms of specialization. Cardiology, in particular, allowed me to use my interest in procedures, research and physical diagnosis. The first day of my EP rotation I was entranced with the technology and realized I had found my calling.
Do you have a mentor? What qualities does he/she possess?
My EP program director Richard Trohman, MD, FACC, taught me most of what I know about cardiac electrophysiology and quite a bit about life in general. He has the most patience of any teacher I have ever met, and the amazing ability to guide a student to discovery of the answer rather than spoon feeding the information. One of the most memorable things he said to me was “don’t just do something, stand there.” This phrase has taught me to be patient in a field where patience is often required.
What does patient-centered care mean to you?
I often joke about the fact that many of my patients failed to read the textbook before getting sick. A patient-centered approach recognizes the differences among patients in both their presentation and response to treatment. I firmly believe it is essential to address the many ways patients experience the same illness. Individualized diagnosis and treatment ensures that each patient receives the best care possible.
If you could spend a day with anyone, who would it be and why?
W. Proctor Harvey, MD, MACC, was a great teacher and the best physical diagnostician I have ever seen. During my internal medicine residency at Georgetown University, I had the honor of helping gather patients for his auscultation course. It seems that the art of physical examination and thoughtful diagnosis has been phased out by diagnostic testing. it would be great to have a little more time with him. His passing was a great loss to the art of medicine.
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