The alarm goes off in the morning of a workday, and for Mauricio Danckers, MD, FCCP, it’s the ringing bells of excitement. Dr. Danckers, starting his sixth year in practice, is the ICU medical director at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center. As his responsibilities evolve the longer he practices, the stronger the passion for his job grows.
His 12-hour workdays, which start at 7:00 am, are always full.
“Each morning I have the opportunity—actually the privilege—to work with residents, fellows, and different health-care providers,” he said. “I start the day by joining residents and fellows for teaching rounds and then attend multidisciplinary team rounds.”
As the day goes by, Dr. Danckers has the opportunity to join mid-day academic conferences, provide lectures to his trainees and colleagues, and advance his scholarship work while mentoring residents and fellows. He achieves his professional teaching goals in several different platforms: from patient’s bedside to the whiteboard, from a noon conference interactive lecture, to a targeted simulation session.
“There is not one single day at work that looks the same, and that is, by far, the most exciting part of my job,” Dr. Danckers said.
Dr. Danckers is involved in hospital committees that allow him to improve patient safety practices, to enhance hospital clinical and surgical programs, and to contribute to the implementation of new diagnostic and therapeutic options in the critical care field. His commitment to education and patient safety has allowed him to participate in ICU quality improvement projects along his residents and fellows.
When Dr. Danckers took his position as the ICU medical director, it was a big honor to be considered, he said.
“The way I saw it was, well, I cannot only help my patient that I’m seeing today at bedside, I can also change policies, procedures, and processes that can actually help every patient that comes to my ICU even when I’m not in,” Dr. Danckers said. “So I think that has changed the scope of my practice, my effect as a professional, and my community impact is broader.
Dr. Danckers continues to seek ways to give back to his medical community. He’s the current Vice Chair of the Training and Transitions Committee at CHEST.
“Being involved with CHEST allows me to grow with the support of amazing mentors,” he said. “It has given me the opportunity to share my story and to expand my professional goals.”
As physicians finish clinical training, they are considered early-career physicians for the first 3 to 5 years of practice as attendings.
“This could be quite a journey with a steep learning curve right after fellowship,” Dr. Danckers said.
He moved from NYU, where he completed his fellowship, to Aventura Hospital in South Florida for his first job outside of his training institution.
“We try to share with our trainees at CHEST some of what we learn through our journey,” he said. “I believe it’s a very good policy to be open about your struggles and to know who and how to ask for help.”
As a medical student, you are fascinated to learn how you can help your patients, he explained. As a resident, you learn the tools to achieve your professional goals. As a fellow, you become specialized in your chosen field and you move forward contributing to the advancement on medicine and its practice in the community. As an attending, you start learning how to overcome the barriers of practicing to make it effective and beneficial for your patients and to make your community healthier, he added.
“When you finish your training program, you want to continue to build your profession, not just find a job that pays your bills; that would not suffice for a physician,” Dr. Danckers advised. “You want to make sure that you integrate your clinical duties to your continuous professional growth while giving back to your community. The sense of feeling accomplished at the end of the day by giving your best to your community is truly rewarding. I have found a place where I feel challenged and productive. Many more opportunities have appeared in front of me as I go through my medical career, and I am looking forward to what is on the horizon for me.”
When Dr. Danckers isn’t focusing on work, you can likely find him spending his time between jogging along the Miami scenery and reading—usually a tablet in hand—about different cultures and travel destinations. He likes to counteract the fast-paced life of working in the ICU with quiet, relaxing time surrounded by friends, family, and his two dogs.
“There is not one single day at work that looks the same, and that is, by far, the most exciting part of my job.”
Mauricio Danckers, MD, FCCP