Meet the Doctor: Joshua Copeland, MD
Joshua Copeland, MD, is a cardiologist at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia and Einstein Medical Center Elkins Park. He also sees patients at 8015 Frankford Avenue in Holmesburg and 401 Township Line Rd in Elkins Park. He is board certified in cardiology, echocardiography, and nuclear cardiology.
We recently talked to Dr. Copeland about his career and his interests within cardiology.
Perspectives: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
Dr. Copeland: I always wanted to do something that allowed me to help people, and from an early age I was very much interested in the sciences. As I went through my education, my interests sort of narrowed to biology and human systems.
Perspectives: Tell us about your education background.
Dr. Copeland: I went to college at the University of Maryland in College Park, got a Bachelor of Science in biology, majoring in physiology and neurobiology. From there, I went to medical school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
After medical school, I completed my internal medicine residency in Cleveland at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, now called Cleveland Medical Center. It’s affiliated with Case Western Reserve University. About a third of my residency training was spent at the Cleveland VA medical center. That gave me an opportunity to work with veterans, which I think was an important part of my training. After that, I did my cardiology fellowship training here in Philadelphia, at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. That was how I came to love Philadelphia.
I’m actually still a student at Jefferson. I’m near the end of a Master of Science degree in Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety.
Perspectives: How did you end up pursuing cardiology?
Dr. Copeland: In college, I took a physiology course, and that was really the first time I learned how the heart and cardiovascular system worked. It was certainly, to me, the most fascinating organ system of the body. On a personal note, I’ve had family members affected by cardiovascular disease, so it touches close to home. There’s a huge disease burden, so I felt it was what I was most interested in and where I felt the need was greatest.
Perspectives: What drew you to Einstein?
Dr. Copeland: Having spent three years in Center City, I honestly didn’t know too much about Einstein other than that there were people at Jefferson who had previously worked at Einstein and had good experiences working here. It wasn’t until I came and interviewed here that I learned to appreciate that this is a place which really puts emphasis on undergraduate and graduate medical education and training the next generation of physicians.
I also think we have a lot of very strong programs in the cardiology division and have a lot to offer patients. We’re in a geographic location in the city that definitely has a lot of medical needs, and I feel that I am able to serve the population to the best of my abilities.
Perspectives: Could you tell us about your clinical interests?
Dr. Copeland: I’m a general or noninvasive cardiologist, so you will see me consulting on general patients in the emergency room, observation unit and throughout the hospital. Another large component of my inpatient service is attending in the cardiac intensive care unit also known as the coronary care unit. When I’m not in the hospital on a clinical service, I’m seeing patients in the office or in the echo lab reading echocardiograms, doing transesophageal cardiograms and the various imaging modalities.
Perspectives: Can you describe some of these types of imaging in layman’s terms?
Dr. Copeland: There are many different types of imaging, but the bread and butter of cardiology is really the echocardiogram, which is basically an ultrasound or sonogram of the heart that shows how the heart is functioning with the valves and chambers. We also do transesophageal cardiograms, which is when we put a probe down the patient’s esophagus, and we image the heart with the ultrasound. There’s less tissue obstructing that view, so it gives us higher quality images.
Typically, we use nuclear cardiology for stress testing. The nuclear stress testing we do here, and the most common type, is single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), where someone gets injected with a nuclear tracer when they are running on a treadmill or given a medication and you look at how the heart lights up with a specialized camera, which tells us about the blood supply to the heart and helps us identify blockages.
Perspectives: Why should patients choose Einstein Cardiology?
Dr. Copeland: In cardiology, it’s important to go to a center that has strong cardiologists and strong cardiac surgeons because the way we take the best care of patients is to have a heart-team approach. This is where we can consider all the surgical and minimally invasive options on the table and offer the patient the best option. We’re fortunate to have excellent cardiac surgeons and cardiologists at this institution to offer that.
When there are patients that have had multiple procedures, or been turned down or failed multiple other places, we have some world-class faculty who are able to do very complex percutaneous coronary interventions and are able to open up blocked arteries without open heart surgery and relieve the patients’ chest pain.
And we’ve also recently started our MitraClip program, which is a minimally-invasive procedure, being able to repair a mitral valve that’s leaking with a clip rather than doing open heart surgery.
I think we have a very strong, excellent line of cardiac services for the population in this area, and they don’t have to travel far. They don’t have to go to Center City to get excellent care.
Perspectives: What is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a doctor?
Dr. Copeland: What makes me feel good at the end of the day is feeling like I’ve made a positive impact on the health of my patient and seeing that my intervention or my advice was able to allow a patient to live a longer, more fulfilling life than they would have probably otherwise. In the situations where I know I’ve made an impact, that’s the most rewarding to me. I also find it very rewarding to teach and to feel like I’ve helped shape a good class of future physicians.
Perspectives: What are your interests outside of work?
I do spend a lot of time at work, but I’m married and I have a 2-year-old. Between work and spending time with my toddler, Zach, and working on my master’s degree, right now there’s not a lot of spare time.
Perspectives: What is your favorite movie?
I’m a Star Wars fan, but I have a hard time deciding. I think Return of the Jedi is my favorite, or A New Hope.
Perspectives: What is your favorite sports team?
I hope I don’t upset anyone, but I was born and raised in Baltimore, so I’m a Baltimore Ravens fan.
Perspectives: How about a favorite vacation spot?
For me, it’s anywhere with a beach, though the experience is a little different now going to the beach with a 2-year-old who thinks he can run around anywhere and thinks he can just run into the ocean, so it is a little less relaxing.
Perspectives: What is an interesting fact about you?
I do like to scuba dive, and I have an advanced open water certification, so I’ve been down to 120 feet. It’s been a few years now. It’s really fun and a lot of hard work to get the certifications, but it pays off.