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Dartmouth Medical School Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Vital Signs

Clinical Observation

In this section, we highlight the human side of clinical academic medicine, putting a few questions to a physician at DMS-DHMC.

Mary-Margaret Andrews, M.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases)

Andrews is director of the DH Family HIV Program, which provides care to women, children, and families living with HIV. She also directs DHMC's Outpatient Parenteral Antibiotic Therapy program. She joined the DMS faculty in 1995.

What made you decide to become a physician?
After college I went to work in an immunology research lab in New York City. I thought that would be a way to figure out whether I wanted to become a Ph.D. scientist. In the lab, I met infectious disease physicians who were clinician-researchers. That was my first exposure to researchers who were also physicians, and that's when I decided on medical school.

What got you interested in infectious diseases?
I did my clinical rotations in New York at the peak of the HIV epidemic, and many of the inpatients I saw, both children and adults, had HIV infection. I also worked with an infectious diseases professor on my fourth-year rotation who was very dynamic, interesting, and helpful and was wonderful with patients.

What advice would you offer to someone contemplating going into your field?
You have to go into the field with a love of the underlying microbiology and pathophysiology. Medicine is very challenging and increasingly technical, and there's this draw pulling you away from being with patients. So two things I tell students to ask themselves are "Does this pathogen stuff really interest you?" and "Do you really like working with patients?" Those are the things that hold your interest in the field.

What is the greatest frustration in your work? And the greatest joy?
In medicine there is a demand for conformity, which is very hard on people's individuality. I'm also frustrated by the amount of computer work, which takes away from doctoring. The greatest joy is interacting with patients, as well as the diversity in my field. Many of us wear many hats, which adds to the complexity—but it also pulls you in and doesn't let you get bored.

If you weren't a physician what would you like to be?
I think I'd be a musician—I was a serious flute player years ago. Or a chef.

What kinds of concerts or performances do you enjoy?
I attend many different types of concerts. You name it, I probably enjoy listening to it. The most memorable concert that I've been to was seeing Grace Potter live on the shores of Lake Champlain. I'm also a big fan of baroque music.

What famous person would you most like to meet?
Bono of U2, because of both the music he's created and the important things he's done as an activist. I think he's an inspiring person (from what I know), with his social justice agenda.

What's the last book you read?
Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder. Not only is it an amazing, moving story, but I work with a number of refugees from Burundi and Rwanda, and I also had an association with New York similar to the one related in the book.

If you had a time machine, what's the first place you'd go?
A time in my own life that is irrevocably etched in my memory: the 1960s on Nauset Beach on Cape Cod with my family. All my happy summer memories are there.

Do you have a hero?
My mother. She decided to become a working mom, went back to school, and became a counselor and ran her own business for many years. She's really a model of how to continue to adapt and grow with equanimity.


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