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Jordan Simmons starts cardiology career in Georgia

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The face of Jordan Simmons is being used to advertise cardiology services at Phoebe Sumter Medical Centre in Americus, Georgia (Photograph supplied)

Bermudian cardiologist Jordan Simmons was ambivalent when she found out her face was on a billboard.

Dr Simmons is the cardiologist at Phoebe Sumter Medical Centre in Americus, a small town three hours south of Atlanta, Georgia.

“I had a health presentation to give that day, and I had patients to see,” the 34-year-old said.

She already felt that as a female cardiologist she had an uphill battle keeping the attention of the firefighters and police officers she was speaking with that day. Now, members of her audience kept interrupting to tell her about the billboard.

Phoebe erected her picture outside the hospital on South Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard to let the community know they had just added a cardiologist to their staff.

“It does make people think about their heart health more,” Dr Simmons said.

Bermudian cardiologist Jordan Simmons, left, with colleague Natalie Collier, at Phoebe Sumter Medical Centre in Americus, Georgia (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

The job at Phoebe is her first since completing eight years of training. She did an internal medicine residency at Albany Medical Centre in New York, where she was chief resident, and then a cardiovascular disease fellowship at NYU Langone Long Island.

One of the conditions to getting an American work visa was that she had to practice in an underserved area.

“Underserved just means there is not a large access to physicians,” she said.

Her boyfriend is a doctor in critical care medicine. They chose Georgia because he wanted to live in the South.

“We have been living in Americus to get some more experience under our belts,” she said.

Jordan Simmons in her cardiology residency at NYU Langone Hospital on Long Island, New York (Photograph supplied)

Dr Simmons is the only cardiologist at Phoebe Sumter. She works with two nurse practitioners.

Her typical day is broken up into different tasks.

“I see about ten to 13 patients in the morning,” she said. “Then, in the afternoon, I do cardiology consults in the emergency room and the hospital. I also read stress tests, echocardiograms and cardiac event monitors.”

She decided to become a doctor in high school.

“I love not only caring for people, but also understanding different parts of the body,” she said.

At St George’s University School of Medicine, in Grenada, West Indies, she thought she might become a hospitalist or an internist.

She fell in love with cardiology while doing her residency at Albany State Medical Centre in Albany, New York.

During a rotation, she found she loved the cardiology critical care unit. On her first day there, there were two patients who stood out for her. One had congestive heart failure.

“That causes so many hospitalisations and is quite a significant burden on the patient and on healthcare,” she said. “The other patient had just had a heart attack.”

Modern advances in cardiac care meant that her heart attack patient walked out of the hospital within two days of having a stent inserted to open the blockage in their heart.

“That was amazing,” she said.

On the other hand, the heart failure patient’s condition had to be constantly monitored and managed.

“Heart failure is not something that can be fixed overnight,” she said.

“The goal is to enhance their quality of life, keep them out of the hospital, have them breathing and being able to function. You want them to live a life that they are happy with.”

Working with these patients showed her that she could make a big impact as a cardiologist.

“With the prevalence of heart disease, I knew that if I entered into cardiology as my speciality, I would be helping out so many people,” she said.

Dr Simmons is a non-invasive cardiologist, meaning she does not do surgery, but focuses on pacemaker management and analyses and diagnoses heart conditions.

She uses various non-invasive tools and techniques such as echocardiography, cardiac electrophysiology, stress tests and heart monitors.

One of the harsh lessons of the job is that we do not live for ever.

“It is important that we value each day and enjoy our blessings,” Dr Simmons said.

Some days can be tough.

“You do start to understand that not all of your patients are going to live,” she said.

“And you also start to understand signs that the patient is doing poorly. There are a lot of things that we can offer for dying or suffering patients.

“Preventing your patients from suffering can be rewarding. You get used to the dying process, but there are always patients that you get attached to.”

Two weeks ago she lost sleep after finding out one of her patients had died.

Dr Simmons finds working with patients to be rewarding, but also frustrating, at times.

“Sometimes, it is hard to get the patient to understand why you are harping about their blood pressure and cholesterol,” she said.

“You keep talking about managing their diabetes and getting them to stop smoking. They need to exercise. You are just trying to keep them out of the hospital.”

Dr Simmons’s goal was always to come back to Bermuda to work. For now, however, she and her boyfriend are focused on gaining experience in the United States over the next three years.

She is the first in her family to go into medicine. Her parents, Ronald and Tammy Simmons, said they were extremely proud.

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Published May 21, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated May 22, 2024 at 8:08 am)

Jordan Simmons starts cardiology career in Georgia

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