We sat down with Penn Medicine’s new cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. Marisa Cevasco, to learn a bit about herself and what motivated her to pursue a career in cardiac surgery.
Could you tell us about yourself?
Originally I am from New Jersey, as is my husband. I went to University of Pennsylvania undergrad, and then actually worked in finance for a few years before going to medical school. I did my general and cardiothoracic surgery ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) training in Boston, and then spent two years at Columbia University Medical Center in New York as a junior attending doing all adult cardiac surgery, but with a focus on mechanical support, ECMO, and transplant. I am excited to be back at Penn. We live outside Philadelphia with our two children.
What inspired you study to medicine?
I like being able to take care of the individual patient. One-on-one patient care is incredibly gratifying. It is a privilege to help others when they are sick and vulnerable. We have a moral obligation to each other, and as a surgeon, this is how I fulfill that.
Why did you choose the field of cardiac surgery and decide to become a surgeon?
I love physiology, big open cases, transplant, and taking care of critically ill patients. Also, cardiac surgery requires a broad range of skills, from sewing distal coronary anastomoses, to working deep in the chest at difficult angles, catheter- and wire- skills, and managing extracorporeal support. I also like working closely with other people in dynamic situations, and cardiac surgery is certainly a team sport. Patients do well when we work together, from the bedside nurse to the ICU to the cardiologist to the surgical team.
Do you have any advice for young women thinking of pursuing a career in cardiac surgery?
I have the same advice for women as I do for all students interested in cardiac surgery. Dedication, compassion, hard work, and being meticulous will get you where you want to go. Do the right thing for your patients, be good to your colleagues, and protect your juniors. Also, in the operating room, everyone has gowns and hats and masks on, and gender of the surgical team is irrelevant.
Dr. Marisa Cevasco is an assistant professor of surgery at Penn Medicine and sees patients at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. Dr. Cevasco specializes in cardiac surgery. Her clinical interests include coronary artery bypass grafting, valve replacement, heart and lung transplant, minimally invasive valve surgery, and mechanical circulatory support including ventricular assist device therapy (VAD) and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.