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Faculty Spotlight: Matthew J. Bruehl, MD

Friday, March 22, 2019
Matthew Bruehl, MD

This week’s faculty spotlight shines on Matthew Bruehl, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics in the Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine. Bruehl talks to us about his special interest in cystic fibrosis and how he was introduced to medicine as a career while volunteering as a medical assistant at University of Oklahoma home football games. He also shares his interest in clinical informatics and his work creating a prospective disease-specific patient registry to identify trends and risk factors for adverse health outcomes in cystic fibrosis.

How long have you been at Duke? How did you decide to come here?
I’ve been at Duke since September 2018. My wife, Kelsey, and I moved to the Triangle in 2012 and love this area! Duke offered a wonderful opportunity to care for pulmonary patients and pursue my career interests.

What are your responsibilities within the Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine? What does a typical day for you look like?
I am primarily a clinician taking care of children with acute and chronic pulmonary conditions with a wide range of complexity. I have a special interest in cystic fibrosis and serve as the Associate Program Director for the Pediatric CF Care Center at Duke. My days are spent seeing patients, coordinating care with our pediatric CF care team members, and optimizing workflows in Epic.            

How did you first get interested in medicine? What made you decide to pursue pediatric pulmonary and sleep medicine in particular?
I’m from Oklahoma, and as a Boy Scout, I was able to volunteer as a medical assistant during home football games at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Hal Belknap was our supervisor and introduced me to medicine as a career. I was always going to be a pediatrician, and pulmonary medicine appealed to me both because of the physiology and the ability to practice in a wide variety of clinical settings.

What’s one thing you wished more of your patients knew about pediatric pulmonary and sleep medicine or medicine in general?
Sometimes watchful waiting is both the best and hardest thing to do.

What are your specific interests in the field of pediatric pulmonary medicine?
The care of children with cystic fibrosis and other suppurative lung diseases of childhood. I also have an interest in clinical informatics and am a certified physician builder for Epic.

Is there any research or other special projects you are doing or plan on doing?
I am working with the clinical informatics team at Duke to create a prospective disease-specific patient registry to identify trends and risk factors for adverse health outcomes in cystic fibrosis. I’m also involved in expanding the multidisciplinary care in the cystic fibrosis clinic to involve pharmacists.

Who was your most significant mentor and what knowledge did you gain through this collaboration?
Hard to name just one! Drs. Marianne Muhlebach and Chuck Esther for fostering intellectual curiosity and being infinitely patient, Dr. Elisabeth Dellon for teaching me compassion with bite, and Dr. Terry Noah for his ability to consider underappreciated aspects in any situation.

Do you have any advice for trainees?
Avoid the error of assumption! Teachers assume that learners know a topic and don’t want to go over things they already know. Learners assume they should already know something that they don’t know. The result: topics don’t get taught or learned!

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of work?
My wife Kelsey and I enjoy biking, exploring North Carolina from the mountains to the coast, exploring our Netflix queue, and exploring internet memes.