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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.

Joseph Cravero, M.D.
Professor of Anesthesiology and of Pediatrics

Cravero specializes in anesthesia and sedation for children undergoing surgery or other procedures. He is the founder and medical director of the PainFree Program at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD). He joined the DMS faculty in 1996.

What got you interested in your specialty?
I've always been drawn to interactions with children and their families in the medical setting. And I became interested in anesthesiology when I observed pediatric anesthesiologists during my pediatric residency. They were especially skilled at managing the most critical situations we face in pediatrics: airway management, difficult vascular access, and severe pain amelioration.

What's your favorite nonwork activity?
Lots of choices here. Playing baseball with my son, cooking with my daughters, etc. If you made me choose, I'd take a bike ride in the hills of Vermont with my wife, including a stop for some ice cream.

What famous person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
I just finished Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography of Abraham Lincoln, Team of Rivals. Lincoln was a fascinating person—brilliant, imperfect, introspective, resilient, and with a great sense of humor. He had an amazing ability to deal constructively with adversity and his political enemies. I would love to have the opportunity to have a beer with him.

What kind of music is on your iPod?
Several thousand songs, including Ray Lamontagne, the Avett Brothers, and Puccini opera.

Are there any misconceptions that you have found people have about your specialty?
A lot of people think that anesthesiologists don't need to be very interested in (or very good at) interacting with patients and families. I believe that is incorrect. We often don't have a lot of time to build trust with patients and families, so good interpersonal skills are really critical to provide care that leaves patients and their loved ones confident that you can care for them and will assure their safety and comfort through the perioperative period.

What is your most memorable accomplishment?
I'm pretty proud of the PainFree Program at CHaD. I initiated the program about 10 years ago (along with my colleague George Blike) with the thought that we could take the suffering out of medical care and tests for children. While we will never be completely successful, I think we have a great group of people working toward this goal, and we have a program that the rest of the country has used as an example of excellent patient care.

If you could travel anywhere in the world that you've never been, where would it be?
The Piedmont region of northern Italy. It has great scenery and great food, and it's where my grandparents emigrated from, so there are a lot of Craveros there I have never met.

What historical event would you most like to have been present at in person?
It's impossible to pick just one. A few that come to mind are Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" address at the Lincoln Memorial, the 2004 Red Sox World Series win, Woodstock, and Morton's first administration of ether anesthesia at Massachusetts General Hospital.

What's the best piece of advice you were ever given?
My mother often told me, "Don't worry about things you have no control over."

What was your first paying job?
Lifeguard and swimming teacher on Long Island.


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