When Dr. Mark Jacobstein, pediatric cardiologist, graduated from high school, he knew he wanted to be a doctor. As he explored different medical specialties, he discovered pediatric cardiology and how technologically intensive the field is. With a passion for learning and a strong interest in cutting-edge technology, pediatric cardiology was the right fit for Dr. Jacobstein, who learned about a myriad of technologies to diagnose and treat congenital heart defects, arrhythmia disturbances and cardiac disease.
But it took coming to Akron Children’s before Dr. Jacobstein could put into practice all he had learned, eventually championing Children’s technology transformation and modernization in pediatric cardiology.
“It’s been exciting to watch our technology innovations evolve,” Dr. Jacobstein said. “The technology allowed us to develop a team approach to the family-centered cardiac care we deliver and provide our patients with much better care and outcomes.”
After 30 years at Children’s, Dr. Jacobstein retires on Dec. 31. He looks forward to new adventures and more family time spent enjoying their vacation home in Upper Michigan, playing tennis, walking and bicycling.
What brought you to Children’s?
I was considering chairmanships at several institutions, including one where Dr. George Nankervis, retired chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Children’s, had previously worked. We knew each other, so I called to get his opinion. That’s when he told me that Children’s had 2 general pediatric cardiologists and wanted to add another. I liked what I heard and met with Drs. John Kramer and Vembar Sreenivasan, retired pediatric cardiologists, to learn more. At the time, I was at University Hospitals doing mostly research. I missed interacting with and seeing patients. I was attracted to the numerous opportunities for growth at Children’s, where I could start my own pediatric cardiology practice focused on patient care and teaching.
What was going on in your life then?
My wife, Pamela, worked part-time, and we were raising 3 sons.
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
Yes, although I also worked as director of pediatric cardiology here for several years. Additionally, I was an associate professor at Northeast Ohio Medical University, lecturing periodically.
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
Shortly after coming to Children’s, I helped modernize our cardiac catheterization lab procedures and later, helped plan our digital catheterization lab. When it was built in 2002, it was only the second such pediatric digital facility in the country. Additionally, I led the start-up of Children’s first clinical exercise physiology lab and fetal echocardiography program. I was also involved in pediatric cardiology recruitment and expansion efforts. I recruited Dr. John Clark, pediatric cardiologist, who started our electrophysiology services, and initiated a discussion with a pediatric cardiovascular surgeon, which led to Children’s establishing its congenital cardiac surgical program.
How has Akron Children’s changed since you started here?
When I started, we did everything from the pre-operative to post-operative care. There has been a major influx in pediatric subspecialists at Children’s, which has improved hospital services overall.
What gave you the most satisfaction at work?
Seeing kids doing well and being happy! I’m inspired by cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Robert Stewart’s excellent surgical outcomes. When I see a patient go from extremely sick to well a few days after surgery, that still gives me joy.
What do you look forward to the most in retirement?
I will become a first-time grandfather in January. How cool is that!
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Taking a walk or biking in a park on a sunny day.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
Have fun! I think medicine, and particularly pediatrics, is fun. People think our jobs are depressing, but we’ve been able to diagnose and stabilize kids, or we fix them surgically. It’s also been nice to work with colleagues I enjoy and get along with. I’m going to miss them.
What couldn’t you live without?
What music do you like? Where and how do you listen to it?
Classical music is my favorite. I listen in the car or at home, or go to Severance Hall or Blossom Music Center to hear the Cleveland Orchestra. I also like listening to my youngest son playing piano at home.
What’s the last book your read?
“A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles