Dr. Susanne Mackie Lee
One thing about living in the Washington D.C. metro area, you meet a lot of people from various backgrounds, and some of these people are not what they appear to be. Such is the case of Susanne Mackie Lee. I first met Susanne along with her husband, Sang Lee, at the Flying Fish Restaurant (now closed) many years ago. We were all regulars there and had a good time enjoying good food, great libations and taking turns at singing karaoke. Susanne certainly held her own and enjoyed singing. I later learned that Susanne’s day job was Chairman of the Pediatric Department at Prince William NOVANT Hospital in Manassas, VA. She got to play with the big kids a few nights a week and then look after the health of the real kids during the day.
This 46 year-old authority figure was born in Washington, D.C. but later moved with her family to Bethesda, MD. Upon graduating from high school, Susanne decided to return to her roots and attended George Washington Medical School. After graduating she moved on to Georgetown to complete her residency.
Susanne’s parents had a profound impact on her interest in a medical profession. “My dad was a corpsman in World War II,’ she said. “That experience had a huge impact on his life and he always thought that serving others was very meaningful.” After the war her father went on to college and earned a PhD in Economics. Her mother graduated from Columbia Medical School but continued on to earn a PhD in biology research, which has become her profession. “Both of my parents, through their insight, laid the ground work for the thought that the medical profession was the best vocation,” she tells me. It appears that all embraced the medical world, as Susanne’s older sister is a family practitioner in Reston.
When I asked Susanne why she chose pediatrics she had a simple answer…”Kids are cuter than grownups!” “Our patients range from newborns to 18 years old.”
After kids are admitted to the hospital, they then fall under the care of Susanne and her staff. As chairman, Susanne has pretty much the final say in any procedure, but there is collaboration among the professionals. After 20 years she is the senior pediatrician at the hospital. Her days begin at 6:30 am and end at 4:00 pm Monday through Friday, but she is subject to being called in for an emergency at any time.
Susanne found that transitioning from a school environment to the hospital world took some getting used to. “The biggest challenge to the learning curve was learning to deal with people on a daily basis,” she said. “We are bombarded with questions ranging from the immune system and human anatomy to kidneys.” “We deal with a huge range of topics, but with repetition the discussions become easier.”
In her spare time (?), Susanne likes to swim and garden. “I will try to get in about 75 minutes of swimming as often as I can,” she says. She has trained for the 7-½ mile swim across the Potomac River but has yet to take on the challenge. Her gardening consists of flowers and vegetables but doesn’t end there. “I want my humble back yard to look like a park,” she says.