Richard Martinez, M.D., FAAP, FACC, FASE, decided at a very young age he wanted to pursue medicine. Luckily, Dr. Martinez’s great uncle was a physician who provided him with a great mentor. Growing up with asthma issues, Dr. Martinez was initially interested in pursuing allergy research, but it wasn’t until he worked with a wonderful group of clinicians at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, that he found his true calling of pediatric cardiology. In 1986, Dr. Martinez joined Pediatric Cardiology Associates in Tampa, Florida. The practice joined MEDNAX in 2008. Dr. Martinez's primary clinical interests are adult congenital heart disease, echocardiography and cardio-pulmonary exercise testing.
As he nears retirement, we spoke to Dr. Martinez for reflections on his career.
Advancements in cardiology
From technology to procedures, the fields of pediatric and adult congenital cardiology have changed immensely over the years. “Cardiology now is very different from when I began training. Of course, an operation is still an operation, but it is done differently. There has also been a lot of change in terms of technology and its application,” he says. For example, Dr. Martinez explains the mandate that all newborns receive a critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) screening has helped cardiologists identify and treat at-risk babies from the very beginning. Before the mandate, only high-risk babies (such as those with a family history of heart disease, those exposed to certain medications, etc.) were evaluated, typically by a fetal echocardiogram. Now, the CCHD assessment acts as a screening measure for all babies, reducing the risk of a newborn going home with an undiagnosed heart condition, which can lead to irreversible damage. Dr. Martinez also mentions other important changes, such as the treatment for single ventricle patients, trans-catheter pulmonary valve replacements and catheter ablation for arrythmia.
Dr. Martinez and his team at Pediatric Cardiology Associates have partnered with many organizations over the years—such as The Children’s Heart Foundation, the American Heart Association and the Adult Congenital Heart Association—to give back to the community and raise awareness for congenital heart disease. “My favorite events we participate in are the walks put together by our partner organizations,” he says. “They are such fun days! We get to spend time with each other as a team outside of work and with the patients and families we care for.”
Earlier in his career, Dr. Martinez worked very closely with surrounding universities and children’s hospitals, presenting new research findings in the field. For him, these conferences were a great opportunity to connect with other cardiologists and get to know students in medical school.
Through his work with students, Dr. Martinez knows how difficult it is to navigate medical school with its numerous options. First and foremost, Dr. Martinez recommends choosing a field that you wholeheartedly enjoy. He recognizes that any career in medicine is challenging and demanding, but when you find the specialty that continues to inspire you every day, it will all be worth it. He then advises students to find a niche within their chosen field to stay in demand in the industry and hone their craft.
Dr. Martinez has guided many students over the years. He is proud of his legacy-- all four of his children are in the medical field, and he is looking forward to the contributions they will make to their respective fields.
The MEDNAX team thanks Dr. Martinez for his contributions to his practice and wishes him luck as he embarks on his next chapter!