Clinicians at Rush Followed Their Hearts
Some people are seemingly born to a profession. Others spend years searching for their true vocation. When it came to finding the right career path, these four outstanding specialists at Rush University Medical Center chose to follow their hearts.
Roy Bakay, MD
Neurosurgeon and neurosciences researcher specializing in movement disorders
The launch of Sputnik in 1956 by the Soviet Union did more than just ignite the space race — it fueled a young Roy Bakay’s passion for science, inspiring him to start building and launching rockets in his backyard to test his own scientific theories.
Five decades and countless experiments later, Bakay remains passionate about science — though over time his interest shifted from outer space to the inner space of the brain, leading him to a career in the neurosciences.
Today, in addition to having an international reputation for surgically treating movement disorders, he conducts research aimed at finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease. “It’s always new and exciting,” he says. “We’re constantly pushing new frontiers.”
Michael Liptay, MD
Thoracic surgeon and expert in minimally invasive surgery for lung cancer
Michael and Joseph Liptay were as close as brothers could be. Only 14 months apart, they shared everything growing up, from toys to friends. Later, they both attended Northwestern University, where they pledged the same fraternity and were rugby teammates.
Tragically, Joseph was killed in a motorcycle accident during his senior year of college. Michael was in medical school at the time, studying to become a psychiatrist. But losing his brother in such a traumatic way inspired him to switch his specialty to thoracic surgery so he could help people with serious medical problems.
As head of the thoracic oncology program at Rush, Liptay offers state-of-the-art care — and hope — for people with lung cancer.
“It’s therapeutic for me to see the end result of what we do — when patients are able to celebrate their 50th anniversaries or attend their children’s weddings,” he says.
Maria Reyes, RNC, MSN, CNP
Nurse practitioner specializing in high-risk obstetrics and women’s health care
Everything Maria Reyes had done up to her sophomore year in college had prepared her for a career as an engineer — including her job as a patient transporter in a community hospital, which she took solely to help finance her engineering education.
Then, one night, a pregnant woman she was taking for x-rays went into labor. With no doctors or nurses in the isolated x-ray room and the baby’s head starting to emerge, Reyes had to deliver the baby.
“My life was altered in that moment,” she says. “I knew I needed to be in a job where I could be there for people.”
As clinical coordinator for the Rush Fetal and Neonatal Medicine Program, Reyes is a constant, reassuring presence for families whose unborn children are diagnosed with medical conditions. “It’s a frightening time,” she says. Just as she was on the night of her unexpected delivery, she’s there to help them through.
Mary F. Rodts, DNP, CNP, ONC, FAAN
Orthopedic nurse specializing in pediatric spinal deformities
When Mary Rodts was diagnosed with scoliosis as a teenager, she was devastated. It meant three years of treatment to correct the curvature of her spine, including wearing a rigid brace that extended from under her chin down to her hips — something that is especially traumatic for image-conscious teens.
But at a time when she needed encouragement, Rodts was dismayed by the complete lack of emotional and psychosocial support made available by health care professionals for kids with scoliosis. “I felt very isolated,” she says. “There was no one who seemed to care, no one for me to talk to, no one to support me through treatment. There was just a real disconnect in how I thought I should have been taken care of.”
Her own painful health care journey made Rodts want to improve the experience for future generations of patients. “By the start of my junior year of high school, I had decided I was going to become a nurse,” she says. “More than that, I wanted to work with kids with spinal deformities. I really wanted to make a difference in their lives.”
And she does — in more ways than one. An integral part of the multidisciplinary team that treats spinal deformities at Rush Children’s Hospital and the Spine and Back Center at Rush, Rodts provides comprehensive, compassionate care. “I’m there for the kids 24 hours a day,” she says. “And not just for the physical issues, but for emotional support as well. For me it’s about building relationships.”
Her dedication has inspired a number of the young women she’s cared for to pursue careers in nursing. Among them is former scoliosis patient Megan Taskas, RN, who currently works in Rush’s pediatric intensive care unit.
“Megan wrote me a letter a few years ago when she was applying for a job here. She said she went into nursing because of her experiences with spinal deformity, and that she wanted to work at Rush because of her positive experience as a patient here,” Rodts says. “I think that’s how many of my patients decided to go into nursing. They saw a nurse functioning in a different kind of role, who impacted them and their care in a very personal way.” Rodts keeps all the letters her patients send her, as a reminder of how far she’s come since her own diagnosis 30 years ago: “I’m able to do for these kids what was not done for me,” she says. “It truly is a wonderful feeling.”
Heart and Cardiovascular Care at
Rush University Medical Center
At Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, researchers and nurse specialists work in teams to address the full scope of heart problems, whether common or complex.
Working in state-of-the art facilities, using some of the world’s most sophisticated technology, these experts are on the leading edge of diagnosis, treatment and discovery. From preventive measures to heart transplantation, they are helping to revolutionize heart care.
For more information about cardiovascular services at Rush visit our Heart & Vascular Programs home page.
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