Karen Rudolph, MD, RPVI, earned her medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama. She completed an internship and general surgery residency at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Louisville, Kentucky. She then completed a fellowship in vascular surgery from the University of Florida Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida.
Dr. Rudolph didn’t plan to become a vascular surgeon – or even a physician – from a young age. She’s always loved math and science, but it was an anatomy course during her senior year of high school that started her thinking about pursuing medicine. With each step, she explored all of the options, eventually ending up in a career that she loves.
“Anatomy was truly amazing – I thought, ‘who wouldn’t want to know all about this?’,” remembers Dr. Rudolph. “Going into college, medical school was on the table, but my career path wasn’t completely set in my mind. I decided on bioengineering because it seemed to combine the best of both of my interests and gave me more options after graduation.”
Dr. Rudolph’s brother was also in medical school with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. After shadowing in surgery and with several of his mentors, she thought that orthopedics might be her specialty. But during surgical rotations, Dr. Rudolph liked general surgery more than she expected and the options for surgical subspecialty fellowships that this path afforded.
“I didn’t have a lot of experience with vascular surgery until my second month as an intern. My mentor who was a very busy surgeon let me begin sewing and working with him in surgery very early on in the process,” says Dr. Rudolph. “It was so rewarding to use my skills, work with my hands and gain that technical experience. Even after that rotation was over, I kept coming back to those cases and those experiences again and again in my mind. It was then that vascular became my focus.”
According to Dr. Rudolph, vascular surgery is a specialty that requires a lot of optimism and dedication to successfully help patients through difficult health scenarios. “Vascular disease is a life-long process and establishing a solid doctor-patient relationship is critical,” she says. “Caring for some of the sickest of patients who often need lifesaving surgery – and helping them live a longer and healthier life – has been extremely rewarding.”
Now that her training is complete, Dr. Rudolph is excited about establishing her practice in Chattanooga and with colleagues at University Surgical Associates who are likeminded in their approach to providing excellent patient care.
“I was so impressed with caliber of vascular surgeons at USA, who they are as surgeons – and who they are as people. They provide the same level of care that I value and want for my patients,” says Dr. Rudolph. “It was an easy decision to join USA, and I’m ready to work hard and be part of this team that provides exceptional care and positive outcomes that impact people’s lives for the better.”