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Physician Spotlight: James Greelish, MD


A desire to become a phy sician was rooted in his firsthand observation of the crippling power of disease and the potential of medicine to improve the lives of others. When asked why he chose cardiac surgery as a career, James Greelish, MD, said [cardiac surgery] “is a field in which you literally get to save lives and can dramatically extend a person’s life expectancy and quality of life.” Read more about Dr. Greelish’s story below:

Why did you decide to become a physician?
My older brother, Billy, was born with Duschenne’s muscular dystrophy and was severely disabled and wheelchair bound. Caring for him growing up was just part of our normal routine. In so doing, however, I watched how disease can take a young life. You can’t experience something like that and not have it deeply affect you. Tragically, my brother died at the tender age of 25, just weeks before I started medical school. I took my emotions surrounding his death and channeled it into my studies. It was therapeutic and a productive way to grieve.

How did you become interested in this field of medicine?
The field of cardiac surgery demands excellence, both technically in the operating room and intellectually. I liked the intensity of the challenge the field would provide. Cardiac surgery is a field in which you literally get to save lives and can dramatically extend a person’s life expectancy and quality of life. I feel very privileged to be part of a team that is able to do this as a profession.

What are some of the conditions you treat?
Coronary artery disease (blocked arteries that cause heart attacks), diseases that effect the valves of the heart and make them too narrow or leak (aortic, mitral, tricuspid), certain types of aortic aneurysms, pulmonary embolisms (clots in the lung) and lung cancer. Pulmonary embolectomies (removing the clot from the lung) is a particularly satisfying operation for me, as my father died at age 51 from a pulmonary embolus while I was a third-year medical student.

Why did you choose to practice at CaroMont Heart?
CaroMont recruited me from Vanderbilt University where I was an Associate Professor in October 2010. The opportunity to be in the Charlotte area and work with a outstanding team of progressive physicians and administrators was just too good an offer to turn down!

What are some of your hobbies/interests?
I enjoy reading, traveling, skiing and exercising. I actually completed a half marathon a couple of years ago. My primary interest in life are my children, Cameron 19, Caroline 17, and Kate 11. They really nourish me and keep me young (well, I guess sometimes they age me too).

Categories: Q&A