Jillian Zavodnick, MD, FACP, on being a hospitalist and the many paths to happiness


Jillian Zavodnick, MD, FACP
Hospitalist, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University
Associate Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency
Director, Internal Medicine Sub-Internship

Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia

Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia

What is your current position?

I am a hospitalist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and assistant professor of medicine at Sidney Kimmel Medical College. I am also associate program director for the medicine residency, and I direct the medicine subinternship (soon clerkship).

Where did you attend medical school and postgrad training?

All at Jefferson!

Why did you choose to become a physician?

I always wanted a career where I felt like I had a direct, immediate impact. This is true clinically but drives my educational work, too—I love a big curricular project but find it even more rewarding to teach one concept to one student.

What field of internal medicine did you select and why?

I'm a hospitalist for many reasons. All of my educator role models in residency were hospitalists, expert bedside teachers who took advantage of the “on-off” schedule to dig more deeply into curricular design and other projects. I enjoy helping patients navigate a frightening, complex process; I like turning consultant recommendations into a plain-language plan. Also, there was no organ system I ever loved enough to give up treating the others!

Please describe a typical day in your practice.

I treat internal medicine staples like organ failure, infections, and metabolic abnormalities. At my hospital, infections caused by injecting drugs and complex transfers from other hospitals are also common.

What are some of your special interests professionally?

I'm passionate about treating addiction, especially medications and harm reduction for opioid use disorder. I also enjoy mentoring the next generation of teachers and coaching learners on their career goals.

What are your interests and hobbies outside of medicine?

Spending time with my husband and daughter, yoga, and reading fiction.

What advice would you like to share with medical students, or what do you wish someone would have told you while you were in medical school?

There are no career planning mistakes. If you know what you want, there's more than one path to get there. But if you don't know, even better—pursue the things that interest you, and you'll find you've cultivated a skill set that you enjoy and will use. Don't let yourself be blinded by perceived prestige, other people's expectations for you, or the doors you think will open after something unpleasant. There are many paths to happiness, but often you find them by accident. And if you'd gone a different way, you would have stumbled upon a different path and been equally happy.

Which living person do you most admire?

My mom, who truly does it all.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Speed reading!

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I talk too fast.

What is your motto?

Never resist a generous impulse.

Back to the March 2021 issue of ACP IMpact

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