Kathryn Engelhardt, M.D. General Surgery Chief

Kathryn “Kate” Elizabeth Engelhardt, M.D. was born and raised in Northeast Ohio by her mother, Tamara (an expert negotiator who has held numerous executive positions at manufacturing companies like Goodyear, American Greetings, and Step2), and father, Martin (a mad scientist who also happens to get paid to do chemistry experiments for the tire industry).  Perhaps not surprisingly, she is an only child.  

Kate attended Western Reserve Academy where she excelled on and off the field; she was nominated for the all-Ohio field hockey team and graduated with honors in English and Latin.  She matriculated at Cornell University where she double-majored in chemistry and Classics.  While she had a passion for Latin literature, she realized translating the Aenied is not a viable career choice for someone without independent wealth. 

Luckily her Classics mentor encouraged her to shadow his father, an orthopedic oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and she saw what a life in medicine could offer. After graduating from Cornell, she returned home to Cleveland just in time for Lebron James’s MVP seasons and the Indians’ best season since the 1990s.  The Browns also existed.  In between games, she worked as a clinical research assistant at Case Western Reserve University; finished her pre-med requisites at University of Akron, Cleveland State, and Kent State; and volunteered at a rural safety net hospital and at Hale Farm and Village.  

After briefly considering a career in law (LSAT logic problems are still a favorite pastime), she applied to and was accepted to medical school at University of Cincinnati.  During her time there, she completed a longitudinal enrichment track in geriatric medicine, was awarded a T35 grant from the National Institute on Aging, and earned the Geriatrics Departmental Award.  She was inspired by her mentors, Sandra Starnes, Michael Edwards, Jeffrey Sussman, and David Fischer, to pursue a career in surgery. 

During her final year in Cincinnati, she was introduced to Miranda Ryals; they have been together ever since and recently adopted Stevie, a diminutive tabby named after Stevie Nicks due to her orange hair and enchanting singing ability. For the past seven years she has been in general surgery training at MUSC, save for a 2-year research hiatus at Northwestern University’s Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Center.  

Kate credits the mentorship of Megan Baker, Ramsay Camp, Katy Morgan, Mark Lockett, Karl Bilimoria, Dave Odell, Mac DeCamp, and more recently David Mahvi for her success in residency, both clinically and academically.  She is appreciative of Chad Denlinger, Barry Gibney, and Dr. Baliga for their support in the fellowship match.  And she certainly could not have remained sane without the ongoing support of her parents and grandparents, the daily support of Miranda as well as Kate’s OG class and her adopted class, and the inspiration of all the incredibly talented residents she has had the opportunity to work with.  

She has won numerous accolades including the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress Excellence in Research Award, Curtis P Antz MUSC Surgical Society Award for Excellence, the Yarbrough Award for Excellence in Resident Research, and was recently inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha.  She has delivered 40 oral presentations, has 29 publications in peer-reviewed journals (not including 8 currently in press or under review), and has reviewed nearly 130 manuscripts for Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 

Kate is looking forward to continuing her training in cardiothoracic surgery at Washington University in St Louis.

Reflections

I would not be here without the support, advice, and encouragement of probably every person reading this message. I remember interviewing with Megan Baker who promised me MUSC would support me in whatever I wanted to do. Not only have I been encouraged to pursue my goals, I have also been coached in how exactly to get there.

Early in my intern year I sat down with MD Anderson-trained Ramsay Camp and asked him how I could get to a prestigious fellowship like his; I have thought back on his advice and that conversation throughout my journey here. His passion for patient care, his professionalism working with a wide variety of colleagues, and his commitment to his research and to educating residents continues to be an inspiration.

I had an idea of what research I wanted to do before I even started residency but wasn’t sure how to do it. Without the encouragement of Megan Baker, I never would have applied to Northwestern and without the support of Dr. Baliga, David Adams, Katy Morgan, and Ramsay Camp, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been chosen.

Thank you message

I am appreciative of the mentorship at Northwestern provided by Karl Bilimoria, David Odell, Julie Johnson, Mac DeCamp, Sheri Meyerson, and Tony Yang. Additionally, I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn from Jane Holl, Ed Livingston, Phil Fontanarosa, Tony Yang, and Jonah Stulberg. My co-fellows will remain lifelong collaborators and friends: Melissa Hornor, Ryan Elllis, Brock Hewitt, J. O. Delancy, and Eddie Blay.

I’m thankful for the excellent surgeons who taught me to operate: Karl Byrne and Rana Pullatt who taught me to appreciate technology and to use my left hand. Evert Eriksson and Steve Fann who taught me to be ready for anything. Katy Morgan who taught me how to deal with bleeding (go work on something else for a while) and how to react to extreme stress in the OR (don’t react). Chad Denlinger who taught me diligence and perseverance. Barry Gibney who taught me what to look for in a fellowship and what to look for in a first job. Ramsay Camp who taught me the importance of routine and patience. David Mahvi who taught me humble confidence and quiet leadership. Kerry Hammond who taught me the importance of collaboration and mentorship. Aaron Lesher who taught me to have fun in the OR and to manage technical complications with poise. Mark Lockett who taught me there is no substitute for experience and there is no place in the OR for Nickelback.

And I am of course indebted to my prior chief residents who served as peer mentors throughout my training: T. Michael, Brent, Marcie, Christa, Steph, Shaina, Vivian, Rohan the Elder, M. J., Chelsea and Adam. I am sad I don’t get to share this day with my OG class (Hink, Rohan the Younger, Gabe, Kunal, Scott, and Matt) but I am so happy my new class welcomed me so warmly. It says a lot about a program that a resident can completely change tribes and yet it is as if we had been all together the whole time.

Kate and her colleagues

Best of luck to our junior residents; each class seems to be smarter and more accomplished than the class before. You are all making MUSC an institution to be immensely proud of.

Thank you to my parents and grandparents who have offered unwavering support over the last 35 years.

Kate and parents

Kate and Miranda

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