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Matters of the Heart

February 03, 2011

Matters of the Heart

Nichole Polin, MD is the plumber and Glenn Polin, MD is the electrician.

That’s a simplified description of the physicians’ respective careers as an interventional cardiologist and an electrophysiologist. Nichole’s specialty handles catheter-based treatment of heart disease while Glenn—whose area of expertise is relatively new to the world of cardiology, developed during the mid-1970s—works to assess and treat abnormal heart rhythms (too slow—a pacemaker; too fast, a defibrillator or ablation). In addition to their demanding jobs at Midwest Cardiology Associates at Menorah Medical Center, part of the HCA Midwest Health System, the Polins do what every other working family in America does: the Great Balancing Act.

The family-focused Polins are doting parents to daughters who are 18 months and 3-and-a-half. When considering the move from Philadelphia to Johnson County last year, a determining factor was Midwest Cardiology Associates’ philosophy as a family-friendly practice.

“Not only are the doctors smart, current and excellent at what they do, family is very important to them,” says Glenn.

Days at the Polin household usually start at 6 a.m. with a flurry of breakfast and getting out the door, dropping their oldest child at preschool and seeing patients at hospitals throughout the metro. The Polins both work at Menorah Medical Center, Centerpoint Medical Center and Overland Park Regional Hospital; Nichole goes to Providence Medical Center and Glenn also visits Research Medical Center. Evenings find Nichole home by 6:30 and Glenn between 6:30 and 7:30.

The end of the day, where they enjoy playtime with their children, helps recharge the couple and is perhaps the most precious to the Polins, who celebrate their 7th wedding anniversary this year. “I spend 45 minutes each night reading books with our oldest daughter,” says Glenn. “I look forward to that.”

Nichole has protected time with the girls on Mondays and Tuesdays. “The practice has been gracious enough to let me arrange my schedule accordingly,” she says, adding that the days off are a rare luxury in interventional cardiology.

Date night for the Polins includes an occasional dinner at the Bristol Seafood Grill or Yia Yia’s, but most weekend nights—because they both juggle on-call schedules—Glenn and Nichole uncork a bottle of wine, watch a movie and snuggle in front of a fire.

“And we’re in bed by 10 p.m.,” adds Glenn.

Here’s what makes the couple that works heart-to-heart tick in family-friendly Johnson county.

435 South: Glenn, you were a surgery resident and Nichole, you were an internal medicine resident at the prestigious Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia but your paths rarely crossed. How did you meet?

Nichole Polin: I had seen Glenn around and thought he was cute, but didn’t know him. When you’re a resident, your vacation time is controlled; I really wanted to get away for some relaxation. The year before a girlfriend and I had gone to a Club Med in Turks and Caicos and I decided to book a trip—by myself—to that spot again. Four weeks later I heard through a mutual friend that Glenn had scheduled the exact same trip.

Glenn Polin: We rented a car together and drove to New York to fly out of JFK. We spent the week together and have been together ever since.”

435: You were both doing fellowships at Cornell University and Nichole, you stayed on as faculty where you taught Glenn in the cath lab.

NP: (Laughing) You’re assigned a partner in the lab, so the day we were together was pure luck.

GP: I remember the first time we were in the lab together and looking out in the control room from the operating area. There were at least 20 of our friends and colleagues gathered to watch our dynamics. (Laughing) I like to say that Nichole has no trouble telling me what to do in the cardiac cath lab or at home.

435: Glenn, you had a master plan when you asked Nichole to marry you.

GP: We hadn’t talked a lot about marriage, but one night I brought home a book called How to Buy an Engagement Ring for Dummies.

NP: And then a couple of months went by and there was no discussion of rings or trips to jewelry stores. Then he started reading How to Buy a Used Motorboat for Dummies, which was concerning. On Glenn’s birthday we were getting ready to go out for dinner; he was uncharacteristically anxious as I was getting ready and he finally took me into the kitchen where there were candles and roses. He got down on one knee and popped the question.

435: Family is very important to you. Describe how Johnson County is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to raising a family.

GP: When Nichole and I decided to leave Philadelphia and see what else was out there, we doubted that there would be another perfect opportunity for an interventional cardiologist and an electrophysiologist in the same city. When we received a call from a recruiter about jobs in Overland Park, we were thrilled. Though we had never been to Kansas City and didn’t know a soul here, we were impressed with Midwest Cardiology Associates, part of Midwest Physicians. We have no regrets.

NP: The hospitality from everyone—including neighbors who brought baked goods to us and reached out with toys for our daughters when our moving truck was delayed for a month—has been incredible.

GP: We stayed in a hotel for several weeks before moving into our home and one of the employees who got to know us even invited us to their home for dinner. (Laughing) You wouldn’t find that kind of openness on the East coast.

435: What do you do in your leisure time?

NP: I take 30-minute piano lessons every week. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a young girl. I know “Chopsticks” but not much more at this point. We love the ice-skating at Park Place and the pool at the Jewish Community Center.

GP: I have so many interests and am curious about so many things but a lot of it has taken a backseat because of work and our family. I don’t sit in front of the television and watch football for three hours—I’d rather spend that time with the girls and Nichole. I am an avid reader—I just finished Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life and have come to the conclusion that if people abused their bodies as much as he did and survived there would be fewer doctors in this world. He’s quite a specimen.

435: You’re in a city where you can pursue both your passions in medicine and raise your daughters. It sounds like you’re putting down roots.

GP: The Eastern Seaboard has many well-trained electrophysiologists who graduated from the Penn program like I did. It’s wonderful to be in an area where I can blaze my own trail with a unique skill set. Nichole and I are very at home in Johnson County.

words: Kimberly Winter Stern | photo: Paul Versluis | Reprinted courtesy of 435 South

Read about Heart Care at Menorah Medical Center.

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