Q&A: Nationwide Children’s doctor Joshua Frazier

By Columbus Alive
From the June 7, 2012 edition

The doors will swing open for patients in just a couple of weeks at the newly expanded Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the gleaming, curve-faced building at Livingston and Parsons avenues. Construction crews are working busily to put the finishing touches on the building.

One physician who’s looking forward to breaking in the new digs is Dr. Joshua Frazier, who splits his time between the pediatric intensive care unit and research. We met in a patient room in the new PICU and talked medicine, kids and the possibility of sfitness tryouts for new colleagues.

I didn’t want to go to medical school, because it was going to be hard, right? I was a biology major because I’d been interested in science-type stuff since I was little, but I was also a history major, considering going to law school. And then it just became clear through the course of my undergraduate time that medicine was what I was meant to do.

To help a person who’s generally speaking through no fault of their own sick or injured — as compared to someone who’s dealing with the consequences of a lifetime of bad choices — was just a different kind of feeling.

You have to think so little about hurting kids’ feelings, or wonder am I going to be insensitive to some sort of belief or preconceived notion they have. Because they’re kids, and they’re straightforward and they’re honest, because they don’t know anything else. It’s easy to be straightforward and honest right back.

If there’s an emergency anywhere else in the hospital where the kid turns sour quickly, then we have to go find them, and sometimes, if the situation’s bad enough, we run. There’s a lot more surface area to cover in this hospital than in the old one. We’re thinking about incorporating tryouts into our interview process — have people get on the StairMaster for an hour.

Each floor has its own animal theme. So there’s rabbits on one floor and squirrels on another. We are — the PICU is — the snail, which we’re kind of ambivalent toward. It is what it is. We hope we move faster than snails. Maybe there’s some irony there, I hope.

I study the immune system on a microscopic level and how the immune system is controlled to when the body responds to an infection, it doesn’t overdo it. And we study the ways that the immune system response is turned off before it can damage the person more than the bacteria or whatever germ is causing the person to be sick.

The best possible scenario would be to identify molecules that we can affect with new drugs, and then the next best case scenario would be to use the molecules we’re working with to find better, more rapid ways to diagnose or predict septic shock to prevent it or treat the patient even faster than we’re able to right now. That’s the goal.

Literally everything that we once learned we’re held responsible for in this environment. There’s no organ system that we don’t have to manage. There’s no disease that we don’t see. And there’s no amount of knowledge that we learned that we don’t need at some point during our practice.

We’re responsible for directing the care, but there are so many people who help us do our job and help protect the patients from our mistakes or our errors. It’s just a wonderful group of people to work with. It’s fun to come to work with your friends.

Photo by Tim Johnson