"For me, it's about caring for the current and the future generations of this region. That's what's most important."
Katie Berlacher, MD, came to UPMC for training.
She stayed because of the people.
"One reason why I stay at UPMC is the humans that I get to work with every day," says Dr. Berlacher, director, UPMC Magee-Womens Heart Program.
"And, then, the humans of the city. The people that live in the city and the people that we get to care for every single day are really what has kept me here for so long."
Dr. Berlacher says she has her "dream job" because of everything it entails. Her job includes educating younger doctors, working with her colleagues, community outreach, research, and clinical care.
She enjoys caring for her patients, and she does it every day.
"For me, it's about caring for the current and the future generations of this region," she says. "That's what's most important."
Dr. Berlacher is particularly passionate about women's heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Dr. Berlacher believes heart health is a fundamental part of women's health overall.
For many years, women's heart health research lagged far behind men's heart health research. Clinical trials often didn't include women, leading to gaps in knowledge.
But Dr. Berlacher is proud of the work that UPMC does to address women's heart health. UPMC has one of the largest cardio-obstetrics programs in the country, caring for women across their entire lifespan.
"The integration of women's health across the service lines of all of the hospitals is really something quite special," Dr. Berlacher says. "To me, it's really important to provide this special expertise."
UPMC also is a research leader — not only making discoveries but incorporating them into patient care.
"We run trials that many places do not have access to," Dr. Berlacher says. "So, it's great to be able to offer that to patients. And just because a patient may not fit into an exact trial, that doesn't mean that they don't benefit from the science that is being done in the trials."
Health disparities exist across other demographics as well, including race, ethnicity, sexuality, and other underserved communities. UPMC is striving to create equitable care for all people.
“All humans are important, regardless of your sex, your gender, your background, or your race," Dr. Berlacher says. "And I think importantly, we have developed programs to make sure that those differences are recognized and celebrated and certainly cared for.
"We value patients as individuals and celebrate their differences. And we value the physicians, the providers, and other care team members. We recognize that we are better because of the differences."
Dr. Berlacher co-founded a program called I Look Like a Cardiologist for high school students from diverse backgrounds. The goal is to inspire students from underrepresented communities to become cardiologists — increasing diversity in medicine and improving patient care.
She also enjoys working with younger physicians — she is the director of the Cardiology Fellowship Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Just as Dr. Berlacher came to UPMC originally because of its cutting-edge reputation, she remains proud today of the expertise and science at UPMC.
But the people still stand out the most to her.
"To me, one of the most important things in a patient choosing their primary provider is that they can relate to that person and that they can interact with that person in the most honest, vulnerable way," she says. "I think the people that we have are so special."
At UPMC, Life Changing Medicine means the human side of care.
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