• Dr. Jeff Cavendish Goes from Navy to Civilian Cardiologist

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    Every day, Jeffrey Cavendish, M.D., FSCAI, strives to become the best at what he loves to do-care for patients. And for him, that's more than just a personal goal, it's a responsibility. "I hold myself to a very high standard because we're not dealing with trivial decisions; we're dealing with real life-and-death situations."

    Dr. Cavendish is an interventional cardiologist for Kaiser Permanente in San Diego. Less than two years ago, he left the Navy after a successful 14-year career, persuaded to pursue a "great opportunity" at Kaiser so he could "see more patients and do more interventional procedures."

    At Kaiser he is one of five interventional cardiologists in a group of 21 providers. "Kaiser is a huge organization with a half-million patient population in San Diego."

    They do about a thousand coronary interventions a year. "It was a big change, but I couldn't be happier," he says. "I'm very fortunate to wake up every morning looking forward to seeing patients, practicing cardiology, and working in the cath lab."

    "I enjoy talking to patients, getting to know them, helping them." Whether it's taking patients to the cath lab for an angioplasty, adjusting their medications, or telling them they're "good to go," Dr. Cavendish loves the clinical aspects of seeing patients. He believes that the patient is the most important part of practicing medicine.

    Life-Long Dream

    According to his parents, Dr. Cavendish always wanted to be doctor. "I remember learning about the circulatory system in fourth grade and being fascinated by it." But money was tight, so he worked through college and went to medical school at Georgetown on a Navy scholarship.

    After medical school, Dr. Cavendish did his internal medicine residency and served as chief resident at
    the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. Throughout his Navy career, he always enjoyed teaching and gaining experience from responsibilities typically assumed much later in the careers of civilian cardiologists. In San Diego, he directed the cath lab and served as a governor of the American College of Cardiology. "The work ethic and the training I got in the Navy have been outstanding," he said. "I would do it again in a second."

    He also credits his family, friends, and mentors for "keeping him in line," and teaching him life's most important lessons. Whenever someone took him aside and said "you can do this better," he did.

    Core Values

    Although Dr. Cavendish has left active duty service, he remains in the U.S. Navy Reserves and his personal and professional practices still reflect the Navy's core values of honor, courage, and commitment. He's been married for 18 years. "I'm more in love with my wife now than I was 20 years ago when we met." He laughs when asked about hobbies, but he always makes time to coach his four kids in sports. "The focus on my family was the main reason I stayed in San Diego-they just love it here."

    Professionally, he's committed to providing great care and improving "quality in Interventional Cardiology, specifically, but also the overall community in San Diego." In the Navy, he told fellows, "It's not 'Can we do this?'; it's 'Should we do this?'" His approach at Kaiser is the same: "If you're always doing what you think is best for the patient in the long run, then you really can't go wrong."

    It is an exciting time to be an interventional Cardiologist, says Dr. Cavendish."I feel blessed to be living my dream and doing what I love every day." And, according to his nurse at Kaiser, he's not the only one-his patients are happy, too.