Sylvia Serene Swilley, MD
I speak: English
My gender: Female
Where I practice
Welcome. I am happy to have this opportunity to introduce myself and tell you a little about my practice.
I was born and raised in Virginia and graduated from Virginia Tech with a major in biology. I made the decision to become a physician when I was 8 years old after watching an episode of the television show Ben Casey. Many of you are too young to remember Dr. Casey. He preceded ER, Grey’s Anatomy, and even Dr. Marcus Welby. By the time I entered medical school, I had already decided to become a pediatrician, but I didn’t choose my subspecialty, pediatric cardiology, until the end of my pediatric residency at UCLA. During a rotation at a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, I met a co-worker whose niece had congenital heart disease. It was my involvement in bringing that child to the United States for open heart surgery that sparked my interest in pediatric cardiology.
About my practice
My practice is concentrated on the evaluation and management of infants, children, and adolescents with cardiovascular (heart) disease. Since my medical school training, I have witnessed advances in pediatric cardiology that have made previously inoperable and hopeless conditions now routinely responsive to different treatment options. The importance of a healthy lifestyle cannot be overemphasized, so it is important to look at the whole child, not just his or her diagnoses. Wellness is more than the absence of disease—it is the ability to live life to one’s fullest potential.
How I thrive
I stay balanced through Kaisen. No, that is not a typo. It is a Japanese philosophy that I embrace. Kaisen stresses the power of small steps towards improvement. Whether changing my eating habits or my exercise routine, I focus on small, sustainable changes instead of tackling what seems to be an overwhelming task. One hour of exercise per day may seem daunting, but not if I walk the stairs in the hospital instead of taking the elevator. I may not be able to spend an hour in the gym, but if I commit to just five minutes, I find that those five minutes turn into 15, and 15 turns into 30. A new behavior becomes a habit, and exercise becomes as natural as putting on my seat belt.