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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.

Edward Catherwood, M.D., M.S.
Associate Professor of Medicine

Catherwood is the interim chief of cardiology. His own focus is critical care, pulmonary hyper- tension, and acute coronary syndromes. He joined the Dartmouth faculty in 1989 and earned an M.S. in the evaluative clinical sciences from DMS in 1997.

How did you decide to go into medicine?
As a senior in high school, after I was accepted to college, I decided to change my anticipated major from math to biology. My high school biology teacher was a major influence on me because she was so excited about science. I became attracted to medicine as a natural extension of what I felt was an aptitude for biology. Although there were no physician role models in my family, I believed I had the mind-set for the prolonged educational commitment and delayed gratification that medicine requires.

And how did you decide on cardiology?
During medical school and residency, I found cardiovascular pathophysiology to be more concrete and logical than other areas of medicine. Cardiology made sense, and I was attracted to the idea of focusing on a distinct area of medicine. The idea of being a generalist, on the other hand, seemed quite overwhelming.

If you weren't a physician, what would you most likely be?
Probably a math or biology teacher at the high school or college level.

What is the greatest frustration in your work?

The process of change can be quite slow at times. It's especially important to understand this if you are in an administrative role.

And the greatest joy?
It is wonderful to participate in the care of an acutely ill person, especially when the physicians, nurses, and other members of the care team bring that person back from the brink. Cardiology offers many such opportunities.

What kinds of things do you enjoy outside of work?
My home is a refuge from life's stresses, and I enjoy entertaining friends there. Also, having grown up in the Philadelphia area, I'm an avid Philadelphia sports fan. With satellite TV, I can watch many professional games.

What about you might surprise people who know you?
I am a fairly sensitive person and more emotional than many might think.

Finish this sentence: If I had more time I would . . .
Read more of the classics, something I did not put a high priority on when I was younger.

What do you admire most in other people?
Kindness and consideration for others.

What famous person, living or dead, would you most like to spend a day shadowing?
I am currently reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It would be

fascinating to have a day with Lincoln to better understand his adjustment to the stresses of the presidency and his philosophy on dealing with crisis.

What do family and friends give you a hard time about?
They chide me for taking things too seriously. Admittedly, I sometimes have to givemyself permission to have fun.

What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
I dressed in drag for our annual fellows' dinner, which I emcee, as part of the fun at this annual roast. This was about as outrageous as I get. I suspect it was quite shocking for many in attendance, who would not have considered me capable of such a transformation. Pictures of the episode will likely haunt me for years to come.

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