Featured Physician: Matthew Cavender, MD

Matthew Cavender, MD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology in the Department of Medicine.

Featured Physician: Matthew Cavender, MD click to enlarge Matthew Cavender, MD

What brought you to UNC Medical Center?

I came to the University of North Carolina for many reasons but one of the biggest attractions was the opportunity to work with some of the great people here in Chapel Hill.

I had known Jason Katz and John Vavalle for many years and knew that they were great doctors and even better people. Since arriving at UNC, I have not been disappointed. We have great people here in the Division of Cardiology – Drs. Rick Stouffer, Joe Rossi and Sid Smith have all been incredibly supportive and great with which to work. We have a fantastic working relationship with our surgeons. Drs. Tommy Caranosos, John Ikonomidis, Bill Marston, and Kate McGinigle are all highly skilled surgeons and I have learned a lot working with them. We are really lucky to work in a collaborative environment where everyone focuses on delivering the best possible health care to the people of North Carolina. 

Did you always want to be a doctor?

I have been around medicine all my life because my father is also an interventional cardiologist. My mother always told me that I should be an engineer; but, there was something about medicine that always interested me. It was not until I was in high school and started working at the local hospital that I really became convinced that it was the right thing for me to do.

How did you choose your specialty?

As a high school student, I worked in the operating room of our local hospital. The cardiac surgeon knew I wanted to go to medical school and would often invite me to scrub into his cases to watch. That is when I really became interested specifically in cardiology. As a a medical student,  I realized that I enjoyed cardiology much more than anything else and decided to pursue this path.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I enjoy the wonderful patients that I meet, and the great team of people here at UNC that I get to work with every day. Everyone, from the cath lab staff and nurses to the administration, has the patients’ best interest in mind and are focused on making sure that the patients are the focus of our attention. That is really unique and refreshing to be around. 

What are some of the new developments in your field of specialty?

Cardiology is a field that is changing incredibly quickly. We are really lucky here at UNC to have access to the newest medications and devices that are not always available at other places in the country. In particular, we have new transcatheter therapies in which to treat patients with valvular heart disease and peripheral arterial disease. We now can treat patients with pulmonary embolism with catheter based medications that help dissolve the pulmonary embolism. We have new medications that can help prevent heart attacks and heart failure, particularly in patients with diabetes.

Where are you from?

I grew up in Birmingham and Florence, Alabama and I still enjoy returning to visit family.

Is there a particular achievement (professional or personal) that has been most gratifying to you?

I don’t really focus on things like that. I try to spend every day doing the absolute best that I possibly can.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

That’s hard to say because I have been fortunate to receive a lot of excellent advice along the way. I am really lucky to have a lot of people that I can reach out to ask for advice on how handle situations. My father once sent me a quote from William Osler that I have tried to incorporate into my life “To know what needs to be done and then to do it comprises the whole philosophy of life.” In practice, I have tried to apply that by continuing to study regularly and working as hard as I can.

If you weren’t a physician, what would you like to be doing?

I don’t know but I wish that it had something to do with baseball. (Playing 3rd base for the Red Sox! One can dream, right?)

What hobbies do you enjoy?

Life is busy. I have four kids and I spend a lot of time at work. But I do run almost every morning which has been a really good way for me to stay healthy and have some time by myself to think and reflect.  I love to watch my kids play sports and try to help out with their teams as much as I can. I am big baseball fan and I closely follow the Boston Red Sox (probably more than I should). 

Do you have a favorite quote or life motto?

Not really, I just try to work hard, be prepared, and do the best that I can possibly do. My kids would probably say the quote they hear most often from me is “Do it right, do it quickly, and do it with a good attitude.”