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as told to Linda Vaccariello


What Doctors Do: Make Babies (with IVF)

Awadalla: My father was an anesthesiologist and he said, “Go into any specialty except OB; it’s going to kill you.” Despite that, I went into obstetrics. It was really interesting. During my residency, in vitro fertilization was just taking off. 

What Doctors Do: Oversee an Emergency Room

Emergency medicine kind of blends everything together. It lets you do all different kinds of procedures and lets you see all aspects of medicine. I started working part-time in 1993 and full-time in 1997. Over the years, emergency room practice has changed. With emerging technology in heart attack care, stroke care, we’re expected to do more to patients in a short amount of time. Tonight I’m working 4 to midnight. The busiest time is from about noon to one o’clock in the morning. We have such a large volume of people using us for primary care, and they come when it’s convenient, which is usually mid-day to evening. An ordinary day in the emergency department? I have no idea what’s out there waiting for me. It could be a slow day or you could have a bus accident on I-275 five minutes from now. I have no idea.

What Doctors Do: Engineer New Bones

I'm a pediatric plastic surgeon—a craniofacial surgeon—working with kids with cleft lip and palate, and with other congenital syndromes like Treacher Collins syndrome, which is what Brad had. One of the problems craniofacial surgeons have is that we need more bone. We have some ways of reconstructing bone: We can split a bone in half or we can harvest bones from other places in the body. There are certain instances where those techniques don’t work well, though. And there are instances where we need such a large volume of bone that we have to use metal or plastic, which doesn’t grow with the patient.