Featured Profile

Melissa Levack, MD

“Throughout my journey to become a cardiac surgeon, I had frequent personal checkpoints along the way to make sure I was honest with myself about my goals in life. As a medical student I asked myself if surgery was the correct career choice for me if I wanted to have a family.As a general surgery resident, I asked myself if I was “good enough” to do cardiothoracic surgery training. And as a chief cardiac surgery resident, I asked myself if a career in academic medicine, was what I really wanted to do, in order to achieve my ambitions both personally and professionally.” (quote continues below)

“My advice to young women is to be honest with yourself along every step of your journey. This is a very demanding profession and there will be peaks and valleys. Each path is unique for everyone and there is no one size fits all. Find the group of patients that you want to work with who will inspire you to become a better doctor and will give you hope in the face of adversity. And pay it forward to young women who are learning about the field and questioning their own choices. Cardiac surgery is an amazing and rewarding profession and I am proud to be part of this community.”

Melissa Levack MD, is an Assistant Professor of Cardiac Surgery at Vanderbilt University. She received her Doctor of Medicine at Emory, and she completed her general surgical training at Massachusetts General Hospital and her Cardiothoracic surgical training at the Cleveland Clinic. She is early in her career, yet already well-recognized as a leading force in our specialty. She is a great role model, who has been recognized by all members of the multidisciplinary care team for her leadership abilities.

As highlighted in her anonymous nomination from a scrub nurse:“I had the great pleasure of scrubbing-in and assisting Dr. Levack as a Scrub Nurse during her Cardiothoracic Surgery residency (including her chief year in 2017) at Cleveland Clinic. She really represents that amazing combination of ‘compassionate bedside manner’, ‘technical skill’,‘operative leadership’, and ‘high-pressure poise’ that sets an example for all current and future cardiac surgeons, regardless of gender. Additionally, her manner of teaching junior residents and really explaining both the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of certain operative technique during complex cases was very unique. She commanded a high level of respect through strong discipline, demonstrated expertise and end-to-end follow-up.”



As highlighted in her anonymous nomination from a scrub nurse:

(Continued) “I had the pleasure of following on some of her rounds and no matter how many hours she had been without sleep, she always put forth a presence that provided warmth and comfort during her patients’ darkest and most hopeful hours. I also was able to attend a few of her lectures and she again had a certain command of the room (where there were world-renowned cardiac surgeons listening) that was impressive– when questioned, she was well-spoken and factual – never combative. But I will always remember Dr. Levack most for her poise during some of our toughest cases, where things were going downhill. Dr. Levack always had a mindset of being a leader knowing that both her team and most importantly, her patient on that table, was counting on her stewardship to do whatever it took to improve the situation. She was stern, without being agitated; she was commanding, without being dictatorial; she was completely invested, without losing objectivity. Her operative style and excellence is sorely missed at The Clinic.”