It’s hard to say whether Ivanesa Pardo, MD, FACS, chose surgery as her medical specialty, or if surgery chose her. An attending surgeon in Advanced Laparoscopic and Bariatric Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Dr. Pardo had already set her sights on becoming a physician while growing up in her native Venezuela. And after her first surgical rotation in medical school, Dr. Pardo was convinced she had found her future.
But more important was the fact that Dr. Pardo also had a knack for manipulating the advanced laparoscopic and robotic technologies increasingly used for minimally invasive procedures.
“All I know is that it just came easy to me,” she says, “and the more training I got, the more I wanted to learn.”
After receiving her medical degree from Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado, in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Dr. Pardo completed her general surgery residency at Indiana University School of Medicine, where she also served as a research resident. Because bariatric surgery offered opportunities to apply her skills with advanced minimally invasive technology, Dr. Pardo focused on that specialty during her fellowship at Albany Medical Center in New York.
Why MedStar Washington Hospital Center?
The Hospital Center offers the best of all worlds, Dr. Pardo says, as it also provides an academic setting for pursuing another professional passion, surgical education. She has written and contributed to articles in peer-reviewed publications, and spoken before professional audiences across the country.
But being a good teacher requires Dr. Pardo to be a perpetual student, which means keeping up with near-continuous advancements in minimally invasive bariatric surgery.
Keeping Up with Minimally Invasive Bariatric Surgery
“It is a fast-changing field,” she says. “New procedures are developed, but not performed very often as they are often considered experimental for a long time. So it’s only in places like the Hospital Center where you get the opportunity to perform and evaluate those kinds of cases.”
“Obesity is an epidemic that involves and complicates so many other health issues,” she says. “It’s good that surgical options are available, but not everyone has access to them.” And even if a patient is a good candidate for surgery, Dr. Pardo adds, a bariatric procedure is only one facet of treating the condition.
“The drive for surgery comes from the patient,” she explains. “A successful outcome involves adopting and maintaining significant lifestyle changes, and the patient needs to understand and prepare for them. Fortunately, we have the resources to help them through that process, before and after surgery.
Dr. Pardo adds that by evaluating patient outcomes and comparing them with the professional standard, “we are better able to identify areas where we can improve.”
Outside the Hospital
Away from the Hospital Center, Dr. Pardo devotes her attention entirely on her family. She and her husband have two children, a three-year-old girl, and 21-month-old boy. “At those ages, they’re pretty much the center of everything we do,” she says with a laugh. “But like surgery, there’s always something interesting going on.”