April 01, 2012

Macdonald Dick II, MD: Pediatric cardiologist and teacher

Macdonald Dick II, MD
What do you do at UMHS?

I’m a pediatric cardiologist specializing in clinical cardiac electrophysiology – the study of a too fast or too slow heartbeat. For 35 years, I and my Michigan colleagues have advanced the management of children with cardiac arrhythmias. I’m also the Director of the Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Program; we train 6 fellows per year during a 3-year fellowship.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

First is having the opportunity to improve the lives of children. Second is the relationship with our fellows; they bring spirit, energy, and intelligence and forever keep us young. Third is research – the opportunity to observe clinical phenomenon, analyze it and make some sense of it, and then share it with colleagues at Michigan and elsewhere is the heart of academic life.

When you’re not working, what do you do?

I enjoy the company of my wife; we play golf during the summer months (she beats me regularly but graciously). We visit my son who lives locally and my daughter and her husband, in San Francisco. Visiting and entertaining family and friends is a favorite activity.

What moment in the clinic stands out as the most memorable?

The clinical epiphany for me was successfully eliminating through a catheter the life-threatening arrhythmia of a boy who had failed 4 cardiac operations. The technology eventually caught up with his serious cardiac arrhythmia.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

The fellows we have trained in clinical electrophysiology. This relationship culminated in the publication of Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology in the Young. All 16 Michigan pediatric electrophysiology fellows contributed chapters. We regularly gather at national meetings to share ideas and enjoy one another’s company.

Who had the greatest influence on your career?

My father, a general surgeon, though silently. Dr. Amnon Rosenthal, Director Emeritus of our division, brought me with him to Michigan 35+ years ago and provided the leadership, opportunity, encouragement, independence and support that allowed me to develop.

What was the last book you read?

I like biographies and recently completed Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas and Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. I’m jumping into a biography of George Washington also by Chernow. I also recommend Rumpole of the Bailey in its various forms by John Mortimer.

What’s the most thrilling or adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

In 1969, I sailed the coast of Maine (“Down East”) from Cape Cod to Penobscot Bay with friends. The first night off the Mass. coast near Gloucester, we encountered a raging storm. The wind blew and howled up to 50 mph, we had no engine nor radio and only a small staysail on the bow to maintain steerage. The waves were enormous, one crashing over the length of the 47 foot yawl. Morning finally came, and as the wind softened, we thankfully sailed into harbor without injury or loss.