NEWS | June 28, 2018

Q&A with pediatric heart surgeon Amy Rahm


Pediatric heart surgeon Amy Rahm has been employed with UC Davis Health for nearly five years. In that time, she has helped to repair many little hearts in the Sacramento community and has mastered the delicate juggle of being a dedicated mom, wife and surgeon at UC Davis Pediatric Heart Center. Rahm is featured in July's issue of Sactown Magazine. The following is a Q&A with Rahm: 

Q:  What is it like being a pediatric heart surgeon and a mom?

A:  Busy, early mornings, late nights.  At home, I have a mini me. I answer emails, review patient data and write reports while she works on educational games on her iPad, colors or does any task to mimic me.

Q: Does she know what you do?

A: Of course. When I leave for work and she asks me to stay, I tell her I have to go take care of my babies at the hospital and she replies, “Because their hearts are sick?” My daughter Hunter is going to be 4 in September and I can say that when I first went back to work after having her, I wanted to be a better surgeon for my patients. I’ve always loved taking care of the little kiddos, but now it was personal. So every day, and for every patient that I take care of, I want to be the best surgeon I can for them.

Q: What attracted you to UC Davis Health and the Pediatric Heart Center?

 A: So, what brought me to UC Davis Health was a job! But what’s kept me here is the overwhelming commitment of my colleagues and the university to the care of my patients with congenital heart disease (CHD). 

Q: Any specific things that make the UC Davis Pediatric Heart Center standout from others in the Sacramento area?

Photo of Amy Rahm with her daughter Hunter
Amy Rahm with her daughter Hunter

A:  The innovative technologies we use here are the best, or better, than you’ll find anywhere else in California. We have a new Fetal Care and Treatment Center, as part of the region’s only children’s hospital and children’s emergency department, which means we are better equipped to manage any kind of care for children than almost anyone.  Most people don’t know the UC Davis Medical Center is a Top 5 hospital in California – right here in Sacramento – and we’re capable of providing nearly any kind of pediatric care possible.  And, we’ll have a new children’s surgery center opening in the fall.

UC Davis Health is such a great place because we have a world-class university behind us, providing us with resources and the latest technologies to take care of our patients. My colleagues are energetic and determined to help every single patient so it’s easy to get excited about going to work, solving the next patient’s battles, saving another life.

Q:  What are some common misconceptions about pediatric heart care?

A: One big one is that congenital heart disease is only a childhood problem. Since we’re getting so good at surgically correcting heart defects (even in babies who haven’t been born yet!), we are starting to see more adults who are now living with congenital heart disease than ever before. This is exciting, but we’re also learning as we go, because we are still learning how CHD impacts the aging individual. These patients need to be followed at a comprehensive regional congenital heart center where all aspects of their care can be addressed – and that’s something we do at UC Davis Health.         

Q: I’m sure your job gets stressful. What do you do for fun in Sacramento?

A: Food and friends are our leisure. If kids are involved, then swimming, the park, bike riding. If kids are not involved, then restaurants (Allora, South, Mother, The Grange, Mulvaney’s B&L, Ella ... my husband and I really like food), B Street Theatre, music concerts at Golden 1 (Foo Fighters, Tom Petty). This really is such a world-class city – and it’s right here in our own backyard!