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Kristen Nelson, M.D.

Director Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care and Ventricular Assist Device Therapy
Johns Hopkins


In one of the several glowing letters about Dr. Kristen Nelson from co-workers and parents of children who have been her patients, Lisa Hess describes Nelson as someone who “advocates for the patient and loves them like they are her own.”

In another letter, Christina Ewing describes Nelson as “one of a kind — it only makes sense that her life is spent caring for heart babies, because her heart is so beautiful, and has room for so many.”

In yet another, nurse Megan Gilmore Hodnicki describes Nelson as “the most caring, competent, professional, confident, compassionate, empathetic, knowledgeable and altruistic physician I have worked with in my 20-plus-year nursing career.”

Such praise is perhaps not surprising, given the fact that Nelson admits that at one point she thought she shouldn’t choose a career in medicine “because I thought I would get too attached to my patients.” But she changed her mind when her father, then a patient himself, advised her that more compassionate doctors were needed because “compassion and empathy are extremely important components to any relationship, and vital for healing.”


Nelson, who has been the director of Pediatric Cardiac Care at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine since 2012, professes to feeling “truly blessed to be able to take care of the most amazing children who deal with some unimaginable things yet do so with such strength and bravery.

“All of my patients impact me,” she continued. “There is no better job and it is so unbelievable to me that God has given me these opportunities to help children and their families. I owe it to each and every one of them to be the best doctor I can be every day.”

This is a winner profile from The Daily Record's 2019 Health Care Heroes awards. Information for this profile was sourced from the honoree's application for the award.