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Chris Knudson

Chris Knudson, MDName:

Chris Knudson, MD


Undergrad Institution; Degree and Major:

University of Wisconsin – Accounting & Genetics

Medical School:

University of Wisconsin

In practice since:


Your Specialty:

Internal Medicine - Hospital Medicine

Where and for how many years did you train AFTER medical school:

3 years of IM residency at Albert Einstein-Montefiore

How did you choose your specialty?

I’ve always loved understanding what makes things work, and knowing the fine details of physiology and pathology got me most excited in my preclinical years. I was set to become a radiologist at the start of my MS4 year, when through pure luck I got to work with 3 fantastic physicians during an ID elective. With their deep knowledge and curiosity applied to complex medical problems, I saw them take impossibly difficult cases, and then dissect and reframe them until the answer was clear to everyone. They would often make the diagnosis before any imaging and labwork, and I could not believe their skill. From then on, I knew that was the kind of physician I wanted to be, and hastily switched to internal medicine. I still judge my success as a physician next to their abilities, and for me, the path to finding what I wanted to do was find who I most wanted to become (but had to see it in action to know!)

As for the hospital medicine specialty – I love variety and couldn’t pick one subspecialty, and the wards are the place for me! I love the culture of hospital care settings, the fascinating medical cases, and the ability to help patients and their families when they are the most ill. I think you also get more time per patient (as opposed to clinic) to talk with patients, which I also appreciate.

What do you like MOST, and like LEAST, about your specialty?

MOST – I get (and need) to learn things everyday and it will never end. I have time to stop and think about complex patients. Many patients require the help of medicine subspecialties or other physicians (surgeons, OB-GYN, psych, etc), and you get to learn so much from them as well. I love this job ‘as is’, but you can at any point decide to change gears to outpatient, or subspecialize, and many years after practicing.

LEAST – I wish I could ‘cure’ more patients more often, instead of delaying chronic disease.  You’re never THE expert of a particular illness. As a hospitalist, you are only helping a patient for a limited period of time, and are never a patient’s real doctor, which is the biggest downside for me.

In your opinion, what attributes are important in anyone choosing this specialty?

You have to be curious, always wanting to learn more. To do it well, good communication skills and empathy are very important. If you want a black or white answer to everything, or a prescribed fix to each problem, most of internal medicine will be agonizing – we are always dealing in uncertainty and balancing risks/benefits.

Hobbies/special interests:

  • Cooking/fermenting
  • Reading
  • Running
  • Biking
  • Hiking/camping
  • Traveling
  • Coding
  • Gardening
  • Beekeeping
  • Movies
  • Board games