As director of the MGH Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and “co-director” of three young children at home, David Dudzinski, MD, will tell you he has his hands full on a weekly basis.
But that hasn’t stopped him from mentoring other cardiologists coming up through Ellison 9, serving as assistant Cubmaster to his 7-year-old’s troop or volunteering at a local science night at his two eldest kids’ Belmont school.
“I half-jokingly call these activities my best prevention against burnout, but it’s true,” says Dudzinski. “And it feels great to see the wide-eyed reaction to science from these children.”
Dudzinski says wide – and wary eyes – greeted him at the March 15 Winn Brook Elementary School Science Night. A local grocery store had donated animal hearts, which Dudzinski dissected, to show students the chambers and valves similar to those of the human heart.
“About a third of the kids were afraid to even touch the hearts at first. But then almost all of them got right in there, picked them up and really studied them quite intently,” says Dudzinski. “And interestingly, a couple of parents disclosed their own experiences with heart surgeries and also stopped by to take a look and ask questions.”
Science nights and “scouting” out potential careers
Just a few days later on March 19, Dudzinski took the show-and-tell up a notch, during his second year of hosting a Medicine Merit Badge Night for Boy Scouts of the Boston Council.
Twenty-two Scouts ages 12 to 16 visited MGH for a night of learning through conversation and demonstrations. In keeping with the Boy Scout motto, the group learned how to “be prepared” for a path in school that might lead to careers in medicine, asking questions of Dudzinski and the MGH Heart Center’s Vlada Usherenko, NP, and Shauna Sullivan, RN.
“MGH has state-of-the-art technology, but we also discussed the art of the conversation and making a connection through taking a full patient history and conducting the physical exam,” says Sullivan.
“We wanted the Scouts to learn not only about modern medicine and our careers but also something special about their own health,” says Dudzinski. He led the Scouts through an echocardiogram – or ultrasound of the heart – using the transducer on five of the Scouts to allow them to see and hear their hearts beating and blood flowing across the valves in real time.
Adds Dudzinski,“We may have inspired a few future cardiologists.”
Read more articles from the 04/06/18 Hotline issue.