A Heart Surgeon’s View of His Work

Michael Argenziano, MD, chief of adult cardiac surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, likens heart surgery to flying on a commercial airliner. Though getting and keeping a 100-ton metal tube airborne is complex, the risk of disaster is low because pilots and their teams are highly trained professionals who have completed many successful flights.

Dr. Argenziano, who is also associate professor of surgery at CUMC, is particularly sensitive to the impact on patients’ extended families of the operations he does. In a blog post on the ABC News site—he appears on ABC’s “NY Med”—he writes,

I am reminded of the importance of human life every day when I walk into the family waiting room after performing surgery, to find as many as dozens of people, usually from multiple generations, waiting on pins and needles to learn if their family member is going to be OK.

He also finds gratification in his role as a teacher—the word “physician,” he points out, means “teacher”—explaining to patients complicated, often life-threatening, heart problems and how he is going to fix them. “And I understand,” he says, “that one of my most important jobs is to take the burden of anxiety away from the patient by taking control of the situation.”

Dr, Argenziano is a 1992 graduate of Columbia’s College of Physicians & Surgeons.

Read the full blog post here. “New York Med” airs Thursday nights this summer.