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Joe Hilinski

Joe Hilinski, MDName:

Joe Hilinski, MD

Email:

joseph.Hilinski@emory.edu

Undergrad Institution; Degree and Major:

University of Pennsylvania, BA in Biology

Medical School:

SUNY-Upstate

In practice since:

2003

Your Specialty:

Pediatric Infectious Diseases

How did you choose your specialty?

I have always loved medical microbiology – and have been fascinated by the stories of infections throughout history, and the microbe hunters who went after them.  I was fortunate to get hooked up with a great mentor very early in my medical school career in Syracuse who was in Peds ID.  I was able to stay in contact with her all during medical school, rounded with her and her team in my spare time, and got to know her and her family, in addition to the other members of their division.  She had probably the biggest impact of anyone in my career on what I chose to go into.  To this day I still stay in touch with her and the rest of the division in my medical school.

I find Peds ID fascinating because we get to see some of the most interesting patients in the hospital.  We get to really sit down and think about our patients and put all of their information together.  Every patient is like a puzzle and it’s often our job to figure it out.  Also, as is the case with most 

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

  • MOST:  The interesting and complex cases that require a lot of thought input but are satisfying when you make someone better by figuring out a difficult diagnosis.  I like to think of ID docs as the "Sherlock Holmes" of the specialists.
  • LEAST:  Dealing with postoperative and nosocomial infections.  In those situations no one is happy – not the patient, not the surgeon whose work may now be infected, nor the ICU team who has to deal with a nosocomial infection.  This is a big part of our job, and thankfully we can treat and make most patients better even with bad hospital acquired infections, but it is never enjoyable. 

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

Most importantly you have to be a careful thinker who likes details.  Infectious diseases is all about taking the right history, asking the right questions, and finding the detail in the chart that helps figure out what the cause of an infection is.  Another important trait is being able to deal with ambiguity.  Although we often know exactly what we are treating, there are many cases we manage empirically without truly knowing the answer.  If you can’t accept not always knowing, it’s very difficult to be in this field.  I would say our field is great for those who want to have time to sit down, review a patient, and logically figure out what is wrong with them.  For those who want to do procedures, or want a field with more immediate satisfaction, it’s probably not a good choice.

Medical special interests: 

  • Transplant infectious diseases
  • CMV infection
  • Periodic fever syndromes 

Hobbies:

  • Playing with my kids
  • Music (playing [piano and classical organ] and listening)
  • Reading SciFi and Fantasy novels
  • Philadelphia Eagles football
  • Video games