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Faculty Spotlight: Patsy Park, MD

Friday, September 18, 2020
Patsy Park, MD

This week's Faculty Spotlight shines on Patsy Park, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics in the Division of Cardiology. Park talks to us about her responsibilities as a pediatric cardiologist who also specializes in fetal cardiology and the wide range of patients she sees in the course of a typical day. She also talks about how she became interested in congenital heart disease and what inspired her to go to medical school. In addition, she details what she enjoys the most about her work and how her most significant mentor, Dr. Angelo Milazzo, offered her invaluable professional guidance as well as crucial life advice that helped her through a difficult transition.  

How long have you been at Duke? How did you decide to come here?
I came to Duke in 2016 from Charleston, SC after finishing my pediatric cardiology fellowship. I was born in NC and lived here until after I graduated college at the University of North Carolina. My entire family still lives in Dunn so it made sense to move closer to home. I came to Duke because of its national reputation to provide excellent cardiac care to the children of North Carolina. I also really loved the people that I met when I interviewed here. My husband is a pediatric ER physician who now works at UNC so this was a great spot for us both to find an ideal job.

What are your current responsibilities within the Department of Pediatrics? What does your typical day look like?
I am an outpatient pediatric cardiologist that also specializes in fetal cardiology. I rotate between our Raleigh, Apex and Fayetteville clinics. In a typical clinic day, I can see everything from healthy patients with heart murmurs and chest pain to diagnosing complex congenital heart disease in a fetus. I am typically on call a few days a week and will read echocardiogram and ECGs from outside hospitals in addition to the studies done on my own patients. I also spend part of my day teaching the medical students, residents and fellows that are rotating in clinic with us.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work? What’s one strategy you and your colleagues have used to adapt or compensate?
At the beginning of the pandemic, our outpatient clinic locations closed. We were able to quickly transition over to telemedicine visits to continue patient care. We are now back to our regular clinic schedule with precautions in place to keep everyone as safe as possible while also continuing telemedicine visits (which surprisingly I have really enjoyed).

How and when did you initially become interested in medicine and pediatric cardiology in particular?
When I was in college, I worked for the pediatric cardiology department at UNC. While there, I became very interested in congenital heart disease, which inspired me to go to medical school. During medical school, I loved both my pediatric and surgery rotations. I ultimately chose pediatric cardiology to get the best of both worlds. I now take care of patients with congenital heart disease that will require surgical repair, refer them to surgery at the appropriate time and follow them postoperatively. I love being part of a multidisciplinary team working closely with our inpatient and critical care teams as well as our surgical colleagues.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I really enjoy the relationships that I form with my patients and their families.  I diagnosed many of my patients during fetal life and have walked with them through multiple cardiac surgeries. Many are starting pre-K or kindergarten this year. It is very rewarding to see how well most of our patients do outside of the hospital. This was a refreshing change from fellowship where I did mostly inpatient cardiology. I now have a growing stack of Christmas cards from my patients each year. 

Who was your most significant mentor and what knowledge did you gain through this collaboration?
I have had some great mentors along the way, but I would have to say my most significant mentor would be Dr. Angelo Milazzo. When I started at Duke over four years ago, I found the switch from fellowship to new attending life to be difficult at times. Dr. Milazzo took me under his wing and offered not only invaluable professional guidance but also crucial life advice that propelled me through a difficult transition and into a successful first few years at Duke. I am very grateful for his mentorship and friendship. I hope to pay it forward to other young faculty members one day.

Do you have any advice for trainees?
Stop waiting for the perfect time to do the next big thing on your list. There will never be a perfect time. Go ahead and take the vacation, get healthy, have the baby. You will make it work.

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of Duke?
I enjoy spending time with my husband and three girls (ages 6, 4 and 2). In my rare free time, I used to practice hot yoga, but thanks to COVID, I am now obsessed with my Peloton (which was in impulse buy a few weeks before quarantine started). Another quarantine win was joining Book of the Month club and really upping my reading game in 2020. I also love a good reality tv show and a strong margarita.