The American Health Council has cordially appointed Dr. Ellen J. Killebrew, M.D., as “Best in Medicine” for her outstanding contributions in the field of Cardiology. Dr. Killebrew’s interest in medicine first stemmed from when she was just 13 years of age, after she became unwell with gastroenteritis. Her mother tried home remedies to treat her condition however nothing seemed to relieve her symptoms. A doctor was called to the house and after a quick series of pills and injections Dr. Killebrew was feeling much better. The doctor producing his ‘magic bag’ with vials of medicine made a lasting impression on Dr. Killebrew and from that point on she knew she wanted to become a doctor. In fact, she has now been practicing the field of cardiology for more than 50 years.
Dr. Killebrew found medical school difficult at times, especially being a woman in that era. However, she overcame these challenges with the support of the other few female students in her class. They lived and studied together at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School until graduating and becoming doctors.
Further challenges awaited Dr. Killebrew after her graduation when trying to find work as a female cardiologist in San Francisco, as the majority of practices would not employ women. It was a small Kaiser hospital where she found her first position, however, it was not long before she started to look for a bigger challenge.
To keep her mind focused and skills on point she decided to author numerous articles – fulfilling her cardiology fellowship requirements, as well as securing a fellowship with the American College of Physicians. Throughout her career she has also contributed to a book on cardiac care, taught at the University of California and taken part in a prestigious video series, The Star Treatment. Dr. Killebrew, who specializes in non-invasive adult cardiology, still continues to help, and inspire women in medicine today as a clinical professor of medicine at the University of San Francisco.
Since Dr. Killebrew embarked on her career – at a time where there were no female cardiologists – the field of cardiology and medicine has massively changed. When she first started out, defibrillators, beta blockers and coronary care units – all essential in modern cardiology – were non-existent. In fact, Dr. Killebrew saw the rise of CPR and the incredible and positive impact it can have on saving lives.
As a former President of the American Heart Association and as a heart disease survivor herself, Dr. Killebrew insists that exercising often, not smoking, eating healthily, and keeping blood pressure under control are all ways to prevent not only many cardiac conditions, but also diabetes too.