When Emily Cassidy, MD, finished her degree at Louisiana State University School of Medicine, she headed north for her residency in general surgery at Morristown Memorial Hospital in New Jersey, followed by a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. But the New Orleans native—who had even stayed in town for college at the University of New Orleans—always knew she’d be back in Louisiana before too long. Now, Dr. Cassidy practices at Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group Thoracic Surgery in Baton Rouge. in Baton Rouge.
“In addition to the reward of coming home to Louisiana, the hospital has been extremely supportive of my surgical practice,” Dr. Cassidy says. “I was the first dedicated general thoracic surgeon at Our Lady of the Lake, and I came with a lot of big ideas to build a destination thoracic oncology program. With the hospital’s support, that’s exactly what we’ve done!”
From Chemistry to Medicine
Originally, Dr. Cassidy planned to pursue a career in chemistry, which was her undergraduate major. But after a summer job in a lab, she realized it wasn’t the best fit.
“I was fascinated by the scientific developments happening in the lab, but I really had a desire to be on the implementation side of the process,” Dr. Cassidy says. “I wanted to be the person who brought that science to people who needed it, so I decided to become a physician. And as a thoracic surgeon, I use science and technology every day to biopsy, treat and remove cancers in the chest.”
Why Thoracic Surgery? It’s Personal.
Dr. Cassidy grew up in a family of cigarette smokers, so she knows firsthand how hard it can be for people to quit smoking.
“Lung cancer is my passion,” Dr. Cassidy says. “I worked as a bartender during college and medical school, so I am not judgmental when it comes to my patients’ tobacco history. I sympathize with patients who suffer from nicotine addiction and strive to help them quit.”
Dr. Cassidy feels strongly about increasing the awareness and availability of lung cancer screenings, which the CDC recommends for people over 50 who average smoking a pack or more a day and who still smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
“Lung cancer is curable when caught at an early stage but, unlike other cancers, our country does not screen nearly enough patients for lung cancer,” Dr. Cassidy says. “I believe this to be partially due to the stigma associated with smokers and lung cancer. But nobody deserves lung cancer.”
Advanced Surgical Options
Dr. Cassidy specializes in robotic thoracic surgery, which results in smaller incisions, enhanced precision, and improved visualization for surgeons.
“Large thoracic incisions are painful for the patient and increase the risk for complications such as pneumonia and blood clots,” Dr. Cassidy says. “Robotic surgery provides me with the tools that I need to offer a superior surgical procedure to my patients, giving them the best outcome with the lowest risk for complications.”
All lung cancer patients at Our Lady of the Lake receive multidisciplinary care, where providers collaborate in weekly meetings to discuss treatment options.
“I’m so blessed to work with an excellent team to provide exceptional care,” Dr. Cassidy says.
From NOLA to Baton Rouge
Although it’s not her hometown, Dr. Cassidy says she loves raising her three children in Baton Rouge.
“Doing anything with them melts away the stress of my work,” Dr. Cassidy says. “And raising my children close to family and friends has been so wonderful.”
In her downtime, Dr. Cassidy would rather spend her time listening to her favorite artists such as Lake Street Dive, Black Pumas and Lizzo than watching LSU football (although her husband is a fan).
“I love going to Jazz Fest. I haven’t missed one since I was a kid!” Dr. Cassidy says.
You can also find her practicing yoga, reading and traveling when she gets a chance.