Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Featured Doctor: Meredith Albrecht

Meredith Albrecht, MD
Meredith Albrecht, MD

Anesthesiology is all in the family for Meredith Albrecht, MD.

Her father was an anesthesiologist at University of Illinois at Chicago, and one of her siblings is also in the field.
Although Dr. Albrecht was always interested in science — and placed 10th in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search competition when she was a senior in high school – she wasn’t always interested in anesthesiology.

“My dad desperately wanted me to be an anesthesiologist,” she said.

Over her father’s objections, she rebelled — by going into the field of biomedical engineering. Eventually she enrolled in an MD/PhD program at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, where she studied neuroscience.
She strongly considered going into pediatrics. But her father had a request: Try out anesthesiology for one month at the Medical College of Wisconsin, one of the top 10 NIH-funded anesthesiology departments.

"He thinks everyone should have an anesthesiology clerkship because you learn practical skills, including how to handle an airway and draw blood, which is very useful when you are an intern," Dr. Albrecht said.
She did the clerkship and became hooked.

In 2001, she completed an internship at Ravenswood Hospital in Chicago. From 2001-2005, she completed her residency and fellowship at Mass General. She initially focused on research, but has recently returned to clinical work.

Dr. Albrecht said several aspects of anesthesiology drew her to the field.

"I liked going into anesthesiology for a variety of reasons," she said. "It's a wide body of knowledge you have to know with great depth. You have to be an expert in a lot of areas."

The field combines intellectual challenges with a hands-on element, she said.

"You're not always thinking, you're also doing," she said. "I really like that part of it."

She also enjoys clinical interactions. Currently, Dr. Albrecht works on the thoracic and obstetric teams, in addition to neurosurgery and general surgery.

"You get to help someone at a really vulnerable time and have this intense relationship with a patient," she said. "And it’s not always a one-time thing. You sometimes see patients come back, which I found surprising."

She hasn’t given up on research, however. Dr. Albrecht is currently working on several research projects.

In one, a nationwide case control trial, she's working with Dr. Robert Peterfreund and Dr. Lorri Lee to investigate why some spinal surgery patients permanently lose their eyesight.

"It seems to correlate with longer cases that have more blood loss," she said.

She's also working with Dr. Rebecca Minehart to investigate the effect of congenital heart disease on the anesthetic management of OB cases. In addition, she’s interested in researching innovative educational methods, including the use of video in training, and currently leads a committee on resident education in obstetric service.

"Anesthesia is a specialty in which you can easily do research. It's easy to niche out research time, which makes it easier than other areas of medicine," she said.

In addition, she praised the "diversity of interests" in Mass General's Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine.

"There's a lot going on," she said. "It's lots of fun."

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