Photo by Cameron Wittig
Rosemary Kelly of the University of Minnesota
Cardiothoracic Surgeon / University of Minnesota
Top Doctors Designee:
2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
When did you decide you wanted to go into medicine?
Well, my dad is a doctor and my mom was a nurse. I think I was 7 when I decided this is what I wanted to do.
What are the most common questions or fears you hear from patients?
I do heart surgery or lung transplants, so most people are pretty nervous. I don’t try and minimize the fear. But then I spend a lot of time saying this is our team, these are our outcomes. I’ll walk through the statistics, but then I also say, “You’re right. This is a big deal, and we’ll do everything in our power to make sure we give you the best care.”
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
It’s hard to pick one, but my favorite moments are when I see a patient a year later and they look so different. They came in for a lung transplant and looked so weak and ill and frightened, and then I see them in the hall for a clinic visit a year later and I don’t even realize they’re a patient because they look so good.
And the worst?
I remember a patient who went into liver failure after heart surgery. We never understood why, but within 20 hours he had died. There’s really nothing harder than that—to feel you’ve done your very best and it didn’t do a bit of good. It heightens your awareness of how fragile life is.
If a friend or relative were getting surgery, what questions would you want them to ask their physician?
1. Why is this procedure indicated and what are the alternatives, with and without surgery? 2. Are you the best person for this procedure, how many have you done, and what are your results? 3. Who’s on the team that will be caring for me during this process, and how can I speak with you directly should the need arise?