By: The Wellington Team | Published: June 20, 2012
The Wellington Hospital has a large team of cardiologists, treating patients with a variety of heart conditions; we spoke to a senior member of the team Dr Robert Greenbaum about life as a busy cardiologist.
TWHblog: How did you come to choose a career in medicine and decide on cardiology as your speciality?
Initially my interest wasn’t in medicine but science; I knew as a schoolboy that I wanted to do a scientific job, but one which could also help people. After some thought I decided that medicine was the best way to do this. I passed my A levels and attended University College Medical School. I was so fascinated about the way the body worked I decided to take an extra 18 months to study this in more detail. I achieved a First Class Honours Degree in Physiology – a rare occurrence at that time.
Being particularly fascinated by the workings of the heart and circulation, I decided early on in my career that I wanted to be a heart specialist. At interviews during my training I was often asked about this choice, I would explain that cardiology was the speciality, I felt, was most likely to develop new ways to help improve patients quality of life – during my lifetime. With the development of drugs such as statins; techniques such as angioplasty, bypass surgery and pacemaker implantation; as well as a host of investigations such as CT and echocardiography, I think I made the right decision. Today, the treatments I can offer my patients are are so varied in comparison to what was available at the start of my career.
TWHblog: How does a typical day unfold for a busy cardiologist?
My days are quite varied, combining activities in both NHS and private hospitals at a range of sites. I usually leave home by 8am; my time is then divided between a mixture of seeing inpatients and conducting ward rounds, seeing outpatients’ and spending time in the cardiac catheterisation laboratory – carrying out investigations and performing angioplasties or pacemaker insertions. I also have to make time for administrative and educational tasks. Modern technology has meant that doctors have to be much more accessible to their patients. I get emails nearly every day from patients. This was unheard of even five years ago, now I have to make time to give a rapid and personal response. This leads to a full day – meaning I often don’t arrive home until 8pm.
TWHblog: What do you find the most rewarding part of the job?
I am very fortunate to be doing the job I wanted to do in a city I love to live in. The most rewarding part of my job is treating patients who have experienced a heart attack. When using the angioplasty technique, I can open a blocked artery and see the patient visibly improving in front of my eyes. Feedback and opinion are so significant in today’s culture, I really appreciate it when a patient takes the time and trouble to send a thank you note –it’s a very personal thing to do.
TWHblog: What do you do to relax?
I think family is very important. My wife and I try to spend time together often, making room for an evening out together at least once in the week. I like reading and foreign travel, so we try and get away on a regular basis. I speak passable French and am learning to speak Spanish (as we seem to visit Spanish speaking countries more and more). I love driving and have spent time with my son on race tracks trying out some incredible cars that I would not dare take on the road!
Further information on Cardiac Services at The Wellington Hospital is available on our Cardiac Website