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Interview with Dr. Ziv Beckerman

by Swati Iyer |

Written by Swati Iyer

Dr. Ziv Beckerman is a Congenital Cardiothoracic Surgeon, working in Austin, Texas, as a member of the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease, at Dell Children’s Medical Center. I had the wonderful opportunity of speaking to Dr. Beckerman about his passion for medicine, his daily life as a surgeon, and his advice to young students. Here’s what he said:

Q. Can you describe a typical day as a congenital cardiothoracic surgeon?
A. I tend to arrive at the hospital around 6 am, and begin reviewing patient’s files and statuses. Beginning at 7 am, the heart team starts our intensive care rounds, following up on all of our patients in the hospital. After rounds, I attend morning meetings, since we have a different heart center meeting every day, and then typically head to the operating room. Depending on the complexity of the case, a surgery can take anywhere from four to twenty-four hours. Because we tend to take a more conservative approach, in regards to our surgical care, a surgeon will typically only operate on one child a day, to ensure that us surgeons can be as meticulous as possible while performing surgery.
Following surgery, depending on when it ends, we round again, and try to catch up on some administrative work, and research, among other typical duties. Once a week, I have a clinic day in which I try not to operate. 

Q. What are the most common Congenital Heart Defects you tend to see, and how do you treat this condition?
A. The most common congenital heart defects are ventricular septal defects, a heart defect in which there is a communication between the two cardiac ventricles. To treat this condition, a patient is first placed on a cardiopulmonary bypass machine (heart-lung machine). We typically work through the right side of the heart and close any defects with patches of the pericardium. At the end of the repair, we close the heart, and wean the patient off the cardiopulmonary bypass machine, and close the chest. Once again, depending on the complexity and severity of the defects, these treatments can take varied amounts of time. But there are many different types of malformations and my team and I can treat them all. There is no congenital heart malformation which we cannot take care of at Dell Children’s Medical Center today. 

Q. What is your favorite part of your day?
A. I enjoy talking to the family of a patient after a successful operation. 

Q. Why did you choose to be a doctor, and what drove you to be a congenital cardiothoracic surgeon?

A. I decided I want to be a doctor during my army service. I had spent three years in the army and had gotten injured and had to spend a considerable time in rehabilitation. During that time period, I realized I want to become a doctor. The decision to become a cardiac surgeon, or better to say a congenital heart surgeon came very shortly after. I just knew I want to repair hearts. 

Q. Do you have any words of wisdom for children who want to follow in your footsteps?
A. I truly believe that everything is achievable. The journey can be long and arduous, taking up to fifteen years to be a heart surgeon, but it is very fulfilling and rewarding.  Be decisive, and pursue your goals, never give up! And you will succeed.

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