Doctors' Day profile: Douglas Davies, M.D., shares about his career as retirement nears

(March 30 is National Doctors’ Day. Oklahoma Heart Institute would like to thank our physicians for the dedication and passion they show for their patients. In honor of National Doctors’ Day, we would like to spotlight cardiologist, Douglas Davies, M.D.)

Douglas Davies, M.D., was born to be in the medical field.

His father practiced general surgery for 50 years and mother was a nurse. Both parents were in active military service during World War II. His mom worked with former U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur. The popular military leader also served as the eventual namesake for the younger Davies.

“I was constantly exposed to medicine,” Davies said. “That led me to the goal of becoming a physician.”

After 46 years of training and practicing medicine, Davies, a cardiologist at Oklahoma Heart Institute, is hanging up his white coat. He will retire on March 30, 2022, also National Doctors’ Day.

A native of Millville, New Jersey, a town historically known for its glass manufacturing, Davies entered medical school at Johns Hopkins University in 1976. After finishing his formal education, Davies worked in general cardiology for 25 years in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. During the next 10 years, Davies transitioned from invasive to noninvasive cardiology. With additional training under his past medical school colleagues, he became board vertices in coronary CT angiography and nuclear cardiology.

Davies enjoyed the work, but the grind of irregular hours became increasingly taxing for the father of three daughters. In 2010, he decided to go another direction and found an opportunity at Oklahoma Heart Institute (OHI) in Tulsa.

“The opportunity to go to a larger, tertiary care center and continue to grow,” he said of his interest in OHI. “They are on the cutting edge of new cardiovascular therapy, not only in terms with medications, but with interventions. I’ve seen it grow with the expansion of our program here. There is a very active cardiac surgery program here. It was an opportunity to meet the needs of the institute and fulfill personal goals.”

Davies said the technological advancements, such as the evolution of nuclear medicines like CT and MRI scans, and proliferation of cardiac catheterization through stenting, are some of the highlights of his career in cardiology.

“Over the years, I’ve seen almost miraculous changes in what we can do for patients,” Davies said. “Medicines for heart failure and cardiac disease have exploded, in terms of the benefits they offer the patients. When I was an intern, we had beta blockers and digoxin and Lasix as the main therapeutic agents. Now we have so many other options.”

Even in retirement, Davies still plans to dabble in medicine, but his focus is to spend more time with his wife, daughters and seven grandkids. All three of Davies' daughters have followed in the family medical tradition and are all doctors as well.

The veteran cardiologist shared some of the best advice he has received during a career that has spanned six decades.

“When you’re a physician, you have to accept the fact you’re going to have a lot of struggles in seeing patients that are critically ill and suffering from some devastating diseases,” Davies said. “You need resources to deal with those things personally. It requires knowing what kind of person you are. For me, it’s been having a deep faith and knowing the good Lord is in control, even though you see things you know is not going to turn out well.”

What words of wisdom would Davies pass on to somebody just getting started in medicine?

“Don’t think all the answers have been found yet,” he said. “You’ll experience in your own career there will be changes that you never anticipated. You can be part of that process, either as a researcher or teacher or helping people diagnosing or treating those diseases.”