Meet the Doctor: Laurel Hastings, MD
Laurel Hastings, MD, is a vascular surgeon at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia and Einstein Medical Center Montgomery. Dr. Hastings sees patients at Einstein Vascular Surgery offices on Old York Road in Philadelphia and on West Germantown Pike in East Norriton. She is board certified in vascular surgery.
We recently spoke with Dr. Hastings about her career, her interests and vascular surgery at Einstein.
Why did you decide to become a doctor?
I knew from a young age that I wanted to become a doctor. My father was a surgeon, and at an early age, I started shadowing him in his office and in the operating room. I saw how fulfilled he was with taking care of people and recognized this same desire in myself.
Tell us about your education background.
I attended George Washington University in Washington, DC, for medical school. From there, I moved south to New Orleans after matching into the surgery residency program at Louisiana State University, where I completed my vascular surgery training.
Why did you choose your specialty?
I have always known I wanted to pursue a surgical field. During my residency training, I enjoyed each rotation, but it wasn’t until I worked on the vascular surgery service that I knew I had found my field. I enjoyed the breadth of the field – encompassing the full spectrum of relatively smaller cases to large major vascular reconstructions. I enjoyed the variability of addressing issues in many different parts of the body.
The factor that was ultimately responsible for finalizing my decision was that I wanted the continuity with my patients. I didn’t want to operate on them and never see them again. I enjoy the medical aspect of the field and having a relationship with patients that spans a lifetime.
What are your clinical interests?
I have a strong interest in peripheral vascular disease (narrowing of the arteries), critical limb ischemia (severe blockage in the arteries of the legs, which markedly reduces blood flow), and carotid disease (blockages in the carotid artery). These are all areas that can make a significant difference in patients’ lives.
In my previous practice, I specialized in carotid disease and stroke prevention. At the beginning of my practice, I had the opportunity to learn a relatively newer, more minimally invasive technique for treating carotid stenosis, and have since become one of the select few who teach this technique to other surgeons around the country. I am especially grateful for this opportunity, as it combines two of my passions: carotid disease and teaching.
What drew you to Einstein?
The city of Philadelphia was a draw, but specifically Einstein because of their core values of humanity, humility and honor. These principles are integral to what I feel is at the essence of why I went into the field of medicine.
Why should people choose Einstein for their vascular care?
The physicians in our practice see patients as a whole person, not just their disease. Our practice has a thoughtful and compassionate approach to treating our patients, and we constantly strive to embody the principles that Einstein values at its core.
What are your interests outside of work?
I love to cook. I grew up watching my mother cook and helping in the kitchen. As soon as it was possible, I began working in restaurants.
Cooking is something that I find great joy in. I have found that good food brings people together and the process of cooking is a great stress reliever for me. It’s also a way that I can take care of people outside of the hospital when I’m not at work. I’ve been enjoying exploring the food scene in Philadelphia.
Who was an early role model for you?
My grandmother is someone I have always looked up to. She was one of the first women to be admitted to her medical school. Hearing about her experience as a physician, and listening to her advice, has helped me immensely throughout my years in medicine.
She taught me to always approach a patient as a person first and foremost. She believed in treating the whole person, not just the medical problem, listening first, and treating others in a nonjudgmental, caring way, leading with your heart. This was a core philosophy of hers, both as a physician and in day-to-day life.
She also shared with me the trials and tribulations of her experience being a female physician at a time when it was quite rare to be one, and always circled back to the fact that keeping the best interests of your patients at the forefront of your mind will never lead you astray.
What is your favorite book?
When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, because the author makes you feel like you are in the book, feeling all of the emotions. It shows that no matter how uncontrollable the circumstance you are in, you can control how you approach it and react to it.
What is your favorite movie?
The Shining, because I love a movie that gets your adrenaline pumping. I have been to the hotel where the movie was filmed.
What is your favorite sports team?
Please don’t hold this against me, but I am a Saints fan and a fan of LSU football. Louisiana will always hold a special place in my heart. I am excited to go to my first Eagles game and Flyers game.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
I’m from a small town in Colorado. My favorite vacation spot is going home to visit my family.
What is your favorite restaurant?
There are so many amazing restaurants in this area. Recently, I went to Kalaya. I love Thai food, so that was a great experience. I’m always on the lookout for a new favorite, and would love recommendations!
What is an interesting fact about you?
I once learned how to do a backflip on skis. Don’t worry, I don’t do those anymore!