This week's Faculty Spotlight shines on Kristin E.D. Weimer, MD, PhD, MHS. Weimer talks to us about how she always knew she wanted to be a doctor and how she fell in love with neonatology during her rotations at Duke. She also talks about her research focused on preventing and/or identifying CMV infection early to facilitate better outcomes as well as her work to expand newborn screening; and her advice to trainees to ask plenty of questions--a sign of thinking and learning.
How long have you been at Duke? How did you decide to come here?
I came to Duke in 2013 for my residency in Pediatrics, stayed for fellowship in Neonatology and am now in my first year as an attending Neonatologist. I chose Duke because of the strong pediatric training program, research reputation and location. My husband and I chose to stay here after fellowship because of the career opportunities for each of us and because Durham is a great place for our family.
What are your current responsibilities within the Department of Pediatrics? What does your typical day look like?
I work in the Duke Intensive Care Nursery and DRH Special Care Nursery. We take care of babies that were born premature, have a congenital or genetic disease or other difficulty transitioning after birth. On a typical day on service, I spend the morning rounding with our teams (NNPs, residents, fellows, pharmacists, dieticians, respiratory therapists, etc). The afternoons are spent meeting with families, teaching and supervising medical students, residents and fellows, at deliveries, etc. You never know what will happen and that’s part of what I love about it. When I am not on service, I do research on Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and other infections in neonates. I work on grants, data analysis and manuscripts.
How did you first get interested in medicine? What made you decide to pursue neonatology in particular?
I am one of those people that always knew (or thought I knew) that I wanted to be a doctor. I was fascinated by how the body worked and microbes. I always thought I would go into Infectious Diseases, but fell in love with Neonatology during my rotations at Duke. I love the combination of delivery room resuscitations and taking care of critically ill infants, but also being able to see them get better, go home and being with the family through that process. There is also a lot of infectious disease in the NICU.
What’s one thing you wished more of your patients knew about neonatology or medicine in general?
Medicine is an “art” not a “science”. Often times there is not a right or wrong decision. Most decisions are weighing the risks and benefits, long-term consequences and goals of the family. There is an entire multidisciplinary team taking care of each baby to make sure we are addressing all aspects of care.
What are your specific interests in the field of neonatal-perinatal medicine?
I love the variety of patients we see in the NICU, but, from a research perspective, am interested in neonatal infections, especially CMV. CMV can cause infection in utero or after delivery and can have devastating consequences, especially for preterm infants. My research focuses on preventing and/or identifying infection early so that infants can receive the appropriate care.
Is there any research or other special projects you are doing or plan on doing?
I am working with Dr. Sallie Permar (Duke) and others to expand Newborn Screening to include congenital CMV. Our goal is to add CMV to NC Early Check– voluntary, expanded newborn screening – that would provide needed data prior to implementing national screening.
You completed your residency and fellowship here at Duke--do you have any advice for trainees?
My biggest advice is to ask a lot of questions, especially when you are working with experts in their fields. Asking questions is a sign that you are thinking and learning, not a weakness. You only have a few short years before you’ll be the one expected to know all the answers!
What passions or hobbies do you have outside of work?
I spend most of my time outside of work with my husband and almost 2 year old son. I love spending time outside, running, playing sports and all things Disney.