Meet Dr. Aaron Hesselson: engineering healthier heartbeats
We spoke with Dr. Aaron Hesselson as part of our Making the Rounds interview series. Dr. Hesselson started at UK HealthCare in fall 2017. He has nearly 35 years of experience in cardiac electrophysiology. He now serves as the director of electrophysiologic services at UK.
What types of conditions do you treat?
Electrophysiology covers all of the electrical aspects of the heart. That means I treat patients with abnormal heart rhythms. These can vary from slow heart rhythms to very rapid heart rhythms. Treatments for these conditions can range from simple monitoring and reassurance to medication and sometimes surgical procedures that can help manage or cure a certain problem.
How did your career in medicine begin?
I left college as a biomedical engineer and I was very interested in maintaining my medical background for my first job. I came across a job listing in the local newspaper that asked for a biomedical engineer to do research at a hospital in Newark, N.J.
So, rather than just sending my resume in, I decided I would show up in person. I just said, “Hey, I just happened to be in the area and I’m interested in this.” I had an initial interview and then a few more interviews, and then I got the job.
What’s the best part about being a doctor?
As an engineer, the technical aspects of the job are very appealing. But more important is the gratification we get from taking care of our patients.
Very few doctors can say that they can cure a medical issue, but in some cases we are able to do that as cardiac electrophysiologists. And that, to me, is very big. To see the appreciation of the family, patient – that makes it all worth it.
Is there an experience that has shaped your patient-care philosophy?
Yes – being a heart patient myself. When I was in college, even before I had any inkling that I wanted to go into medicine, I ended up in an intensive care unit with a fractured sternum and a bruised heart.
My experience then as a patient very much influences how I approach my patients now. I approach it from the standpoint that I’m that patient lying in the bed. The patient doesn’t know what’s going on or know the technology. They don’t know the technical terms and they don’t know what that end point is: When is my time here in the hospital going to end?
I try to anticipate what they’re thinking lying in bed because I was there. Hopefully I can anticipate their needs and their questions and make them that much more comfortable and reassured so that they know, “OK, we’ve got a plan and I feel good about it.”