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Healthy Balance

7 Quick Questions: Meet Dr. Jonathan Swanson

Ever wonder what your doctor or health provider does outside the exam room? Our 7 Quick Questions series gives you a personal glimpse into the people of UVA.

Jonathan R. Swanson, MD, is the medical director for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and an assistant professor of pediatrics.

1. What did you want to be when you were little?

From what I remember, I wanted to be a 747 pilot, a race car driver (I thought it was safer than playing sports) and a farmer (you can’t get fired). But in the end, being a professional baseball player eventually took over all other dreams.

Dr. Jonathan Swanson

2. What’s your favorite place to travel?

Right now, my family is kind of stuck in Disney mode. However, the most beautiful places we have been include the Fjords of Norway and the Na Pali coast on the island of Kauai. I also enjoy touring the continental United States – I have a goal to visit all 50 states with five to go.

3. What’s one thing you always have in your fridge?

With three kids between the ages of two and seven, one can never have enough ketchup in the house.

4. What’s the most unhealthy thing you eat?

Donuts. Let’s just say it is a good thing that Spudnuts is not on my commute.

5. What’s the most exciting thing/research happening in your field right now?
In our NICU currently, I am very excited about how the team has come together to use our Be Safe problem-solving methodology. In particular, the team that has spearheaded our examination of unplanned extubations has done tremendous work.

Personally, I am fortunate to be working with a number of individuals outside of UVA evaluating how we diagnose and treat necrotizing enterocolitis (the death of intestinal tissue), a gastrointestinal disease that affects our smallest patients.

6. Why pediatrics?

I knew I wanted to work with kids after coaching a basketball team of 3rd and 4th grade girls as a high school senior. They definitely taught me more than I taught them. During medical school, pediatrics just felt like home, which made it an easy decision.

7. Who’s your inspiration/hero?

I have had a number of mentors along my career path, but clinically, I try to pattern my bedside manner and teaching style after Dr. Robert Boyle (recently retired). He exuded calmness in a busy intensive care unit and really instilled in me that there are many different ways of getting the desired end result. I am also inspired by so many of the families that I have come in contact with over the years. When we have patients who stay with us for several months, we really get to know the families and it is inspiring to see their growth in caring for their infant.

On a personal level, my wife continues to inspire me. She makes me a better person every day and she is the glue of our family all while juggling her own medical career.

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