Pierre Kory, MD ’02, a critical care and pulmonary medicine specialist at UW Health in Madison, WI, the academic medical center for the University of Wisconsin, is living his dream. Each day brings a new challenge, and a new opportunity to make an impact on his patients’ lives.
“What I love about my specialty is that every day is a little different and I have a wide footprint,” Dr. Kory said.
His expertise is relied on throughout the UW network. As a critical care and lung disease specialist, Dr. Kory serves as the medical director for the Trauma and Life Support Center—the main medical-surgical intensive care unit at UW—and also as the critical care service chief of the hospital’s medical intensivist service, where he sees patients who are often in critical condition due to severe, acute respiratory illnesses.
Dr. Kory also works in the University hospital’s outpatient pulmonary medicine clinic, where he diagnoses patients with acute and chronic symptoms and also manages many chronic lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), and bronchiectasis. He attends the inpatient pulmonary consultation service, consulting with and managing patients with a variety of acute lung injuries, and also performs bronchoscopic and pleural procedures in UW’s bronchoscopy suite.
The breadth of cases in which he is involved speaks volumes about the importance of pulmonary health.
“Lungs are the most common organ that fails in the ICU and in the context of many diseases,” Dr. Kory said. “During my clinicals and in my training, I thought that the pulmonary critical care physicians were hands down the best doctors in the hospital. They were the most widely skilled, and the most knowledgeable and experienced in all facets of disease and all levels of severity to the extent that no other doctor came close. I wanted to be like them.”
USING THE MODERN STETHOSCOPE
Dr. Kory is a recognized expert in critical care ultrasonography, a tool he considers “the modern stethoscope.” He is the senior editor of the award-winning e-textbook titled, “Point of Care Ultrasound,” the first comprehensive textbook on all point-of-care ultrasound applications for health care providers. Now in its second edition, the textbook was selected for the British Medical Association’s 2015 President’s Choice award for medical textbooks. He is also a former director of the advanced courses on critical care ultrasonography sponsored by the American College of Chest Physicians.
“In my opinion, the best doctors are by definition the best diagnosticians because no treatment works unless you get the diagnosis right,” Dr. Kory said. “Good doctors listen hard to what patients are saying and are meticulous and thoughtful in their consideration and evaluation of the causes of any problem being presented to them.”
He added: “When I have really sick patients, it’s really important to assess compromised organs and try to figure out why someone is deteriorating or dying in front of me. With modern technology, we have immediate access to compact and mobile machines that produce high-quality ultrasound images of critical internal organs. This allows us to identify life-threatening abnormalities in seconds at the bedside.”
A REAL-LIFE DR. HOUSE
Dr. Kory’s favorite aspect of his career is teaching both aspiring and junior physicians. UW Health is considered a teaching hospital and Dr. Kory can often be seen with medical students, residents, and fellows in the ICU as he sees patients. He has won multiple department and hospital teaching awards.
“I love the enthusiasm of young doctors,” he said. “I consider everything a teaching moment, and I try to share my experiences accumulated over years spent in a multitude of clinical situations and emergencies. As I round on service, there are usually eight to 10 people following me of varying disciplines and seniority. I am like ‘Dr. House’ followed by a large group of ducklings.”
Dr. Anthony Saleh, a 1985 SGU graduate, is the program director of pulmonary/critical care fellowship at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. He oversaw Dr. Kory during clinical rotations and keeps in contact with him to this day.
“Dr. Kory is brilliant, he has an incredible mind, and he is passionate.” Dr. Saleh said. “He really cares about his patients and about those he is educating, and he does everything at the highest level. Take those things—that’s plenty—but what he’s done for ICU sonography, he has literally become the go-to person probably in the country on critical care sonography.”
Added Dr. Saleh: “Pulmonary/critical care is an all-encompassing specialty. Dr. Kory is able to assimilate vast amounts of data and integrate it into patient care. ICU physicians have to communicate with multiple subspecialists, and Dr. Kory seamlessly does this, relentlessly pursuing optimal patient outcomes.”
MATCHMAKING THROUGH SGU
Since his days at St. George’s University, Dr. Kory reflected on the opportunity he received through the school, noting that his greatest achievement was meeting his wife, fellow graduate Dr. Amy Malik, while both were at Weill Cornell School of Medicine in New York City—he in his clinical rotations while she was a resident.
“We were the same age, despite her being ahead of me in her training, and we just hit it off,” he said. “The most courageous act I have ever done was asking out a third-year medical resident while I was a fourth-year medical student.”
While Dr. Kory was born and raised in New York City, Dr. Malik is from Wisconsin. And while both doctors are pulmonary and critical care specialists, Dr. Malik focuses more on pulmonary disease where she is an expert in diagnosing and managing patients with interstitial lung disease. They married in 2003 and have three daughters together—Ella, Eve, and Violet. After both completed their residencies, fellowships, and junior faculty careers at hospitals in New York City, they moved their family to Madison, WI, when both were recruited by the University of Wisconsin.
“It’s great to be married to another doctor in the same challenging specialty,” Dr. Kory said. “We both know what we go through; we get to share a lot of our experiences each day; and because we intimately know what each other does, it becomes a stimulating conversation with the person whom you love most. We get to go home to each other and share our successes, our failures, and our challenges, and it’s nice to be able to do that.”