Dr. Lana Schumacher is a thoracic and cardiac surgeon currently practicing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Allegheny General Hospital and Ohio Valley Hospital. Even at a young age, Dr. Schumacher knew she wanted to be a doctor because of her inherent desire to help others to stay happy and healthy. After spending some time as a student at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center working alongside a leading thoracic surgeon, Dr. Schumacher knew that she had found her calling. She was drawn to the idea of using new and innovative technologies to carry out complex surgeries in a minimally-invasive manner.
After becoming a thoracic surgeon herself, Dr. Lana Schumacher quickly excelled and became a leading authority in the field. Using robots and new technologies to perform surgery, Dr. Schumacher can complete most procedures using minimally-invasive methods that limit the recovery time of patients and get them back to full strength again in a shorter period of time.
Dr. Lana Schumacher lives a busy life as a wife, mother, and thoracic surgeon and always strives to maintain an optimal balance between her personal and professional life. She works hard to fulfill the needs of her patients but is also committed to providing a happy and healthy life for her family. Dr. Schumacher looks forward to training future generations of surgeons and hopes to inspire younger doctors to help people the way she does.
When did you decide you wanted to be a doctor?
Dr. Lana Schumacher realized early on as a child that she wanted to become a physician. Her goal even at that time was to try to help patients “feel better” and live a happy life.
What drew you to thoracic surgery as a specialty?
As a medical student, Dr. Schumacher worked with a Thoracic Surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering cancer center. During that time she participated in many amazing Cancer surgeries. This was the opportunity to cure the patients. The Thoracic surgeon she worked with was an inspiration and leader in her field. Dr. Schumacher too wanted to build a career of curing patients and standing by her patient’s side during the challenging battle of cancer. She also felt that there was so much she could contribute to the field of thoracic surgery with clinical research for lung and esophageal cancer.
Have there been any recent advancements in the field of robotic thoracic surgery that you’re excited about?
Dr. Schumacher is one of the leaders in robotic thoracic surgery. With the technology, she can perform very complicated cases in a minimally invasive approach, thus allowing patients to have minimal pain and return to their daily activities much soon and overall improve their quality of life. The robotic technology continues to improve and grow. At this point, she is treating very early lung cancers with lung-sparing surgery technique as well as very advanced cancers, all with a minimally invasive approach.
Has there ever been a time when you doubted yourself or your abilities? How did you handle this?
Dr. Lana Schumacher feels that as a surgeon, there is continued growth and new challenges, despite many years of experience. Every case can bring challenges that can be unforeseen. There are complications that can happen despite everything being done technically correct. It is at those times that doubt can be created. Cases are continually peer-reviewed throughout a surgeon’s career. With each situation, there is an opportunity to learn and grow.
How do you balance your professional life as a doctor with your personal life?
As a busy surgeon both locally and with national involvement and as a mother and wife, Dr. Schumacher is constantly trying to optimize the balance between professional and personal life. She loves her career and her family and at many times feels torn between the two. She is always available to her patients even when she is not in town or on call. She is extremely dedicated to her patients, career, and family. She feels the balance is always a work in progress and feels with hard work and commitment to both, she can be successful in all arenas of life.
What has been your most satisfying or significant experience with a patient?
Dr. Schumacher feels every day she treats patients is an opportunity to cure patients of a potentially lethal cancer. This is the most satisfying aspect of her job. She feels that she is able to give these patients their life back by removing their cancer.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make as part of your job?
The toughest decision Dr.Schumacher has to face is when to let go of a patient. There are times that their illness is too advanced and she has to let go; the battle has ended. She believes that after the battle has ended, though, her patient will have peace.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
In her demanding field of thoracic surgery, she feels that compassion drives her to be successful. The compassion continues to drive her to fight for and with her patients to battle their illness together.
What does the future hold for you?
Dr. Lana Schumacher continues to be a leader in thoracic surgery. She hopes to pass that on to the younger surgeons that she trains. She feels that in her field there continues to be advancements in technology that she takes part in through clinical research. She plans to continue to touch many patients’ lives and cure them of their cancer.