The phone call came while I was celebrating Christmas with my husband’s family during my first year of medical school. My grandfather, a World War II veteran, both a best friend and hero of mine, had died. He died of septic shock secondary to MRSA in the ICU in which I would eventually rotate in as a resident. He died under the care of an intensivist who would ultimately become my attending. As my training continued, I was drawn to the ICU; the sickest of the sick. There are profound ties between infectious diseases and critical care. In the ICU, patients are either presenting with life-threatening infections, or, in the process of providing critical care, we place devices that carry risk for infection, and thus every day demands attention to the appropriate diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infection. As an infectious disease and critical care physician, I have been blessed to have many physician mentors in both fields. But truth be told, my greatest mentor is the one I lost. Every day, his death challenges me to continue to improve the outcomes for our critically ill patients.
Kelly Cawcutt, MD, MS
Assistant professor, divisions of infectious diseases and pulmonary and critical care medicine
Associate director, infection prevention and epidemiology
Co-director, digital innovation and social media strategy for the division of infectious diseases
University of Nebraska Medical Center