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Variety, challenge of surgery are why Jonathan Kiev loves his job

Jonathan Kiev, MD

/ by UK HealthCare

Making the Rounds icon

For our latest installment of Making the Rounds, we chatted with Dr. Jonathan Kiev, a cardiothoracic surgeon at UK HealthCare. Dr. Kiev treats a wide variety of conditions, including lung cancer, hiatal hernias and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).

What kinds of patients do you see?

In Kentucky, we see a lot of patients with cancer – lung cancer and esophageal cancer especially. For these patients, we focus on early intervention, early diagnosis, early detection and early treatment so that the disease doesn’t take their life.

We also treat benign esophageal disease, acid reflux disease, hiatal hernias and benign lung disease. We see a lot coal miners and people who have illnesses that are related to occupational hazards whom we can help. We really cover the full gamut of patients: from those in the intensive care unit who need a consult, to people who are walking around but have something called hyperhidrosis or sweaty palms, which can be a disabling disease.

Why did you choose surgery as a specialty?

Surgery kind of chose me. I originally wanted to be a forensic pathologist. But then I went to medical school and I got into surgery and I said, “This is great!”

I found myself in a department that treats a wide breadth of things, and that just makes your day so much more fascinating. At the end of the day, even though you’re physically exhausted, your mind is still going. That to me is a fulfilling day.

What do you enjoy most about cardiothoracic surgery?

The fascinating thing is that it’s never the same. There’s nothing mundane, and something’s new every day. In Kentucky particularly, there’s a lot of disease that I can help treat and make huge impacts into people’s lives. That’s exciting to me.

The variability during the course of the week – being on call, talking about organ transplant, talking about lung cancer – it’s fascinating to me. Plus, being here at UK HealthCare, we work with so many different specialties, and my day can touch and be involved with these other experts. There’s always something to learn, and that’s the big thing about medicine: It’s always moving, and that kind of fits my personality.

In your role, you also train the next generation of surgeons and doctors. Tell us about that.

Being in academic medicine, I’m trying to be a role model for the guys behind me, the residents. I treat them as colleagues and I try to motivate them, and I think that’s what this environment encourages.

I had been in academics before and I’ve also been in private practice. Private practice was fun, but it didn’t involve teaching as much. Here, there’s an opportunity to really give these folks, the young folks, the gift that I think I have, which is a committed passion for the work we do.

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