P. Michael McFadden, MD, is a surgeon at Keck Medicine of USC, who specializes in cardiothoracic surgery and lung transplant.
Here’s what you won’t find on his resume:
His community inspired him to become a doctor.
“I grew up with my family in West Texas. When I was 11, my family moved to New Orleans. My dad, a petroleum engineer, worked in oil and gas and was in charge of offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico for Exxon. The New Orleans community was rich with excellent physicians and celebrated surgeons. My personal physician, a pediatrician, lived a block away from me down the street. He was one of my first role models. Because of the influence of the renowned surgeons in our community, I always had my eyes set on becoming a doctor.”
He’s a cowboy at heart.
“Growing up, our family had horses and we went on vacations that included horseback riding. We were allowed to wear cowboy boots and blue jeans to school, so I was in heaven. As I got older, I participated in athletics — both track and field and football. In college, I threw the discus and shot-put. People find it surprising that even though I’m a cardiothoracic surgeon, I still consider myself a cowboy, a football player and a discus thrower.”
Sailing brings him joy.
“My favorite travel destination is San Diego. My father-in-law lives there, and he has this beautiful 48-foot sailboat. It’s such a big boat that it takes more than one person to sail it, so I get to participate in that every time. We go sailing on the Pacific and in the harbor. It’s a real break from the humdrum of everyday living. San Diego is also where I spent much of my time in the Navy as a medical officer.”
He wouldn’t trade his career with anyone.
“I have to say that I am exactly where I want to be and exactly who I want to be. This is what I’ve looked forward to all my life. Being at Keck Medicine of USC, I’m working at what I consider the greatest cardiothoracic program in the country. I enjoy not only the type of work I do and the patients I have, but also the opportunity to be involved in surgical education as a professor. I give lectures to medical students; I train interns, residents and fellows in not only cardiothoracic surgery, but also general surgery. This is an honor and privilege and exactly what I always wanted to do in life.”
Healing is his expertise.
“I do many things in my practice from lung transplants to cancer operations of the lung and esophagus, and I have a special interest in surgical management of pulmonary emboli. The most rewarding part of my job though is when I’m able to help patients that have very severe conditions. When they come to us, they are so sick and they cannot breathe. After we perform lung transplants or other surgical procedures that improve their breathing capacity from a terminal state, you immediately feel the reward for getting them back to breathing again.
It doesn’t stop there either. I listen to my patients, and they appreciate that. I have received many reports and letters back from patients stating that they really enjoyed their experience with me and my team. Some are so happy with the experience that they spread praise or even become donors to the hospital and university. I feel that we are doing the right thing when it comes to compassion and being straightforward and honest with our patients. We do everything we can to tell our patients of the risks and possible complications of a procedure, but we also let them know that we will do everything we can to take good care of them.”
Artificial hearts are the most influential advancements in his field.
“Artificial hearts are the most influential advancements in our field. We have devices now that we can implant as artificial hearts, which allow the patient to leave the hospital as they wait for an organ. They don’t have to take large units with them like they used to in the early days and we can bridge people to transplantation by supporting their hearts.”
He believes Keck Medicine of USC is at the pinnacle of its experience.
“I have worked at four major institutions in my career. I just happen to hit each place at the pinnacle of their experience in cardiothoracic surgery. I really enjoyed that because when I was at Stanford, it was the year that Dr. Shumway and Dr. Bruce Reitz performed the first heart and lung transplant. Now I am at Keck Medicine of USC, the best training in cardiothoracic surgery across the country that I have ever seen.
We are doing everything in cardiothoracic surgery from more routine procedures like valve replacement and coronary bypasses to more innovative things such as robotic surgery, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, thoracic organ transplantation and artificial hearts. It’s just so rewarding to be able to train the next generation of doctors who will be taking care of us. The residents, fellows and interns often teach us as much as we teach them.”