Anesthesiologist Bridget Ruscito feels right at home at the Princeton hospital’s Jim Craigie Center for Joint Replacement. And that’s not so surprising, given that her father taught anatomy and physiology at East Carolina University medical school and later worked as a research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry in Michigan; her mother has a master’s in biology; and her husband has a Ph.D. in neurobiology and is now an analyst for a life sciences company. She has two kids, born in 2002 and 2010, who will no doubt grow up hearing plenty of medicine being talked about at the dinner table.

“I am very happy with this career,” Ruscito says. “I love the procedures that we do. I enjoy the community. And there’s lot of camaraderie.”

Ruscito majored in chemistry at Davidson College, Class of 1997, and then earned her medical degree at SUNY Upstate (Syracuse) in 2001, and went directly into an internship and anesthesiology residency at Cornell.

After an elective clinical rotation in anesthesiology, Ruscito realized it was the perfect choice for her. “It combined my love of chemistry with being in a hospital-based specialty performing procedures and taking care of patients in an environment where I truly get to see the fruits of my efforts — patients immediately getting better from my direct treatments. I was hooked. I liked the fast-paced environment of anesthesiology, alleviating a patient’s anxiety and pain instantly, and knowing that I was taking a patient through one of the most critical times of their life.”

Ruscito believes that the camaraderie and community setting also lead to better outcomes. She and her colleague, Anna Westrick, can recognize advancements in their field “and can move very quickly to implement them” compared to doctors working at a major, big city medical center.

At the big academic centers, Ruscito adds, fellows and residents are doing a lot of the work. At a community hospital such as Princeton, she says, you are being treated by people who most likely are not at the very beginning of their career nor at the end of it. “Here we are really into it,” she says.

“I don’t know where things are going in the healthcare profession,” says Ruscito, “but if you care about people it’s still a good profession.”

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