Thomas M. Bashore, MD: A leader in fellows' education
For Thomas M. Bashore, MD, serving as a mentor and training young fellows in cardiology is the biggest personal accomplishment of his career in medicine. Bashore was director of the Cardiology Fellowship Training Program at Duke Medical Center for 12 years. He has received numerous academic and teaching awards during his tenure in cardiology, including the Annual Cardiology Fellow Teaching Award, which was changed to the Thomas M. Bashore Annual Cardiology Fellow Award for Faculty Teaching to honor him for his excellence in teaching. A two-time recipient of the Eugene Stead Housestaff Teaching Award at Duke, he also received the Duke Master Teacher/Clinician Award.
Bashore, born in Ohio, earned his undergraduate degree from Miami University and then attended Ohio State University. He completed his postgraduate training at North Carolina Memorial Hospital and Duke Medical Center.
Today, Bashore is senior vice chief of the division of cardiology at Duke Medical Center. His current research interests are focused on the percutaneous treatment of structural heart disease, adult congenital heart disease and other complex CV problems.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not practicing medicine?
I collect antique medical devices and outside horn phonographs. I have a lot of medical instruments dating back to the 1800s, including stethoscopes and anything related to cardiology and electricity in medicine. I also enjoy drawing and fly fishing. My wife and I love to travel. I have four grandchildren who are a big part of my free time.
If you hadn’t gone into cardiology or medicine, what would you have done?
I played a lot of basketball and wanted to play in the NBA, but I’m only 5’8” and had neither the body nor the skills. I started my studies in physics, with great interest in quantum physics. I was interested in pursuing physics, but I’m 100% right-brained and not smart enough in math, which may explain why I like to sketch.
What would you consider one of your biggest successes in your specialty?
Clearly, educating and training cardiology fellows. I credit the cardiology fellows as having kept me fresh all these years. Being involved with the fellows, their training and their lives is truly my biggest personal success. I also love patients and enjoy their life stories as much as their problems.
At Duke, my legacy will likely be starting the Percutaneous Valve Program and the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program.
What is the last book you read?
I read every night and generally it isn’t about medicine. I just finished Heart in the Right Place, about a small-town physician in Tennessee, and am reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. I’ve also enjoyed Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese and A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss.
Whom do you most admire and what would you ask that person if you had 5 minutes with him/her?
William Osler, MD, was an amazing physician who demonstrated that the power of observation is more important than anything else when it comes to patient care. He focused on teaching and was terrific. There was so much that he was able to do at the bedside without an incredible amount of technology. It would be fun to see how his mind works when he’s presented with a problem. Five minutes wouldn’t be enough; I’d like to wander around with him for a day. I think he would be both amazed and distressed at how we practice medicine today.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
In high school, a math teacher convinced me that if I just worked harder than anybody else I could get where I wanted to be. I grew up in a small town in Ohio, where very few people attended college. That math teacher is the one who convinced me the secret to success was simply to outwork my peers.
Whom do you consider a mentor?
In cardiology, my first major mentor was Charles F. Wooley, MD, who was at Ohio State University. He did a lot with the American College of Cardiology and he was another one of these wonderful people who think outside of the box. People would present cases to him and he would come in from left field with something that nobody had thought of. He encouraged me a lot as a student.
My mentor during my training at Duke was Joseph C. Greenfield Jr., MD. He was the chief of cardiology and then chairman of medicine. He set the bar high and pushed me forward, professionally, in a way that I might not have gone if I didn’t have someone like Joe budging me ahead.
What kind of diet and exercise regimen do you follow?
I played basketball a couple times a week until I started ruining my ankles. I’ve had four ankle surgeries. Now, I enjoy swimming and stationary biking. I have lost a ‘thousand’ pounds on low-carbohydrate diets; my staying power with diets is poor.
What do you think will have the biggest influence on cardiology in the next 10 years?
Cardiology, in general, is a very technical and device-oriented specialty. It will continue to embrace the nano age where more devices and techniques will be micro-miniaturized. I think more percutaneous devices will also continue to be developed that will replace surgical intervention.
In education, the big thing to happen in cardiology has already started; a lot of education has moved online and away from traditional lectures, journals and textbooks. Many young people today are tech-savvy and are used to getting their education like this. More will expect it in the future. We need to keep up by providing new formats for delivering primary and continuing education.
What is your favorite travel destination?
The Galapagos Islands are a remarkable and wonderful place. There, it is easy to imagine the world as it was a million years ago. The islands display nature that has been untouched and not yet ruined by humans. Every island is different, and the whole Charles Darwin story of evolution is tied into this area. The islands have been preserved, but the preservation is at risk. I’ve never heard anyone come back from there who wasn’t blown away.
What is your favorite restaurant?
I have pretty simple tastes. I like good old mom-and-pop restaurants here in Durham, N.C. Most often, my family and I go to Rick’s Diner, a ‘towny’ restaurant with home cooking.