A cardiologist’s tale

Being a doctor certainly is not easy; it means having to work long hours and holidays. It also means seeing multiple patients a day and hoping not a single one gets bad news. It is a hard job, but for Abdallah Kfoury, this is what he has worked for his entire life. Kfoury is a cardiologist for Intermountain Healthcare who specializes in advanced heart failure and cardiac transplantation. He has always been fascinated with the medical field, but it definitely was not an easy route to get there.

Born and raised in Lebanon, Kfoury did not come to the United States until 1987. While he came to go to med school and earn residency, one of his main reasons for coming was to escape the war in Lebanon. The Lebanese Civil War lasted from 1975 to 1990 and still to this day is facing many hardships trying to recuperate. Kfoury knew better opportunities awaited in America, so he boarded a plane and created a new life for himself here.

Originally wanting to be an architect, Kfoury found his way to the field of medicine after going to a hospital when he was younger. He observed how the doctors gained the attention of everyone. It was an experience that peaked his interest and he was determined to make his dream a reality.

“Back home is such a small country. Everyone was either an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer.”

Kfoury followed this path and started his long journey to become a cardiologist. He pursued an education at the American University of Beirut Lebanon in New York. After that, he received his residency at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, MD in Internal Medicine from 1988 to 1991 and was invited to continue his practice with a fellowship at the University of Utah Medical Center in Cardiovascular Disease from 1991 to 1995.

One can choose from many specialties when entering med school. For Kfoury, he drew a particular interest into cardiology because he liked the logical aspect of it. He especially liked that cardiology had a mixture of both science and medical factors.

“There are not a lot of organs in the body like the heart,” he said enthusiastically.

Cardiology is an extensive specialty. Kfoury dedicated many years learning the practice and becoming proficient in it. Apart from what he called “basic stuff,” for example measuring images of the heart and learning to read EKGs, he also had to learn to be a consultant.

On a typical day, when Kfoury is on clinical service, his day starts at 8 a.m. He can see anywhere from 35 to 40 patients a day. If he is at the hospital, he does rounds with his team, which includes a nurse, a fellow, and a pharmacist. They go around and see a patient and discuss how they can treat them. They can also gather together to discuss research and publish a future paper.

The job is very demanding and “high intensity,” but Kfoury still finds motivation in doing his job. “We are in a specialty where it is very rewarding.”

Kfoury finds hope in seeing the transformation of someone who is near death to someone quite healthy after treatments. He is able to help multiple people and to him, this is what motivates him to move forward. However, the job is not always happy. Sometimes, he has sick patients that he has to learn to let go. “Show compassion, and show you care. Tell it the way it is,” he said with a somber expression.

Being a cardiologist requires and extreme amount of patience and understanding. Kfoury spends countless hours in office, but he is proud to be able to help so many people. He wants to retire soon, but is looking forward to fostering and mentoring others who hope to enter the field.