In this week's Making the Rounds conversation, we sat down with anesthesiologist Dr. Dien Vu of the Congenital Heart team at the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute. Vu manages the anesthesiology and sedation needs of pediatric heart patients as well as adult cardiac congenital patients, who often require special care. After living in Florida for more than three decades, he came to the Bluegrass in 2017 to help build the pediatric cardiac program at UK HealthCare.
Why did you become a doctor?
Mostly because it’s a noble profession. You’re providing care, and you’re providing compassion to people. On the very worst day, you’re still doing something good for other people. I do mission trips once a year, and it reminds me of why I went into medicine – you want to give care.
Where have you traveled on missions?
I’ve been with Surgeons of Hope, Gift of Life (Rotary Clubs), mostly in the South Caribbean, South America, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Belize and Costa Rica.
How did you choose your specialty?
When you start medical school, you have a preconceived idea of what you want to do. It’s easy to rule out things you don’t like and harder to rule things in that you like. I didn’t think about anesthesia when I first started. I was thinking about being a cardiologist or an orthopaedic surgeon. My background was in engineering, and when I did my rotation in anesthesia, it fit just right. I think anesthesia is the most exact science in clinical medicine, so it’s kind of related to engineering.
Another thing I like about anesthesia is that you are able to take care of these patients in their most critical moment. At the time of surgery – the most stressful time – you are able to provide them with care and compassion to help them along.
And your subspecialty?
During my anesthesia training, I knew that I liked to take care of kids and I liked to do hearts, so it made sense to do pediatric hearts. I wanted to look into a field that would make me more specialized.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I like all kinds of exercise. I ride my bike a lot, and I live close enough, so I ride my bike to work every day. I run a lot, and I also love tennis. Occasionally I do triathlons, mostly sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons. Since I’ve been here, I’ve participated with the anesthesia department in the Survive the Night Relay Triathlon.
What’s on your bucket list?
Travel. Every year I want to travel to one different country and see the culture and experience the food, the music, the traditions. I like Old Europe. I haven’t been back to Asia since the Fall of Saigon in 1975, but I’d like to do that, too.