By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist, firstname.lastname@example.org
As a little girl, Megan Wilde used to love to go on hospital rounds with her physician father. She dreamed of the day when she would be the one wearing the stethoscope and examining patients.
Many years of schooling later, she is doing just that as Dr. Megan Wilde, a pediatric cardiologist at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
While she did her residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Michigan, she had long been fascinated by congenital heart disease. So, she did a cardiology fellowship, followed by a fourth-year fellowship in heart failure and transplant at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich.
After eight years in Michigan, the Utah native landed in Indianapolis to join the faculty of IU School of Medicine, specializing in the management of heart failure and transplantation at Riley Hospital.
Here, she has found a supportive group of colleagues, coupled with the kind of challenging workload that inspires her to keep learning and growing.
“I FELL IN LOVE WITH TRANSPLANT”
“I find congenital heart disease really fascinating and something I intrinsically feel like I have to work hard at every day,” she said. “I like that it challenges me. I wanted a job that really made me work and think. That’s how you stay engaged and continue to ask yourself questions.”
Patients with congenital heart disease are living longer these days, and she appreciates the opportunity to follow her pediatric patients into adulthood.
“Inherently, I was interested in doing pediatric cardiology, where I could take care of people from childhood into later life. And ultimately, when I was looking at the subspecialties within cardiology, I fell in love with transplant,” Dr. Wilde said.
“There is something so amazing about supporting a family and a patient to a point where there are not a lot of medical options left, but here is an amazing, lifesaving opportunity,” she said about the miracle of transplant. “Managing heart failure is like the coalescing of all of my training in one specialty.”
Dr. Wilde, who joined Riley in August of this year, said her first impressions of a supportive and collaborative culture within the hospital and the cardiology department have been borne out every day since she arrived.
“For me, Riley offers the combination of a stellar pediatric program – taking amazing care of children – and an extremely supportive department. As a young academic faculty member, that’s important to me.”
She describes the people she works with as warm and helpful as she navigates a new system and tries to figure out how she fits into the group.
But she knows one thing: “This is exactly where I am supposed to be. I came here so I could become the best doctor I could be, but I feel like I also found a family within medicine to some extent.”
Dr. Wilde prides herself on her willingness to listen and learn from her patients and their families.
LEARNING AND GROWING
“I learn something new from every patient because every patient has a story to tell,” she said. “Whether that is a description of a symptom in a new way or a new symptom I have never heard of, I need to stop and think about it and determine if it is connected to the heart.”
It’s her slow, deliberate approach that endeared her to Janet Mann, whose daughter Emma arrived at Riley after collapsing during a cross-country sectional competition in October.
“She is so generous with her time and explanations,” Mann said of the physician who examined her daughter. “She is thoughtful and always takes time. Time is what people need sometimes. Just time to talk it through and feel confident the path is right. To know someone is looking at every angle.”
Dr. Wilde continues to care for 17-year-old Emma while they isolate the cause of the irregular heart rhythm that led to the high school runner’s collapse.
“I really like to talk to my patients, and sometimes I have to remind myself in clinic that my time is up and I have other patients waiting,” she said with a laugh.
“At the end of a conversation, they might say something and that is the hint I needed to help me figure out what I need to look for. When you let the person tell their story, that’s when you hear it.”
Off the job, Dr. Wilde loves to explore farmers markets, hang out with friends, travel and go to the movies.
The pandemic limited all of these pastimes, so she turned to another love – reading. In time, she will head back into the theater, and she doesn’t even particularly care if the film is good or bad, she said.
It’s about the experience. And the popcorn.
“I just like the escape of it. Now, I look at the theaters every weekend and think maybe today is the day.”
One more place she likes to escape is the ski slopes of Utah, where she grew up. The pandemic prevented her from traveling home to see her family, including her parents, two siblings and several nieces and nephews, but this Christmas, that was her gift to herself – home for the holidays.
Photos by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, email@example.com