Faculty Spotlight: Anesthesiologist Dr. Richtsfeld Values People, Attention to Detail and Patient Safety

Marina Richtsfeld, MD was always interested in the sciences growing up, and when choosing her career, she decided to use her skills as a detail-oriented people-person to become a first-generation pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist at the University of Minnesota Medical School. 

Born in Germany, Dr. Richtsfeld’s calm demeanor, in-tune sense of empathy and serious attention to detail led her to the field of pediatric anesthesiology at the M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital (UMMCH). Here, she works with young patients to not only oversee the entirety of their care, but also to help them comprehend the reason for their visit and what they can expect.

Assistant Professor Richtsfeld is also the Director of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology at UMMCH. Under her leadership, the department is currently working on improving clinical operations and keeping an open line of communication between the surgical team and anesthesia.

“Dr. Richtsfeld has a natural affinity for leadership. Her empathy and compassion paired with her unrelenting patience makes it easy for her to work with both children and their parents,” said peer and University of Minnesota Medical School anesthesiologist, Joss Thomas, MD. “She would rather work 'under the radar' and get things done. Her intuitive ability to solve complex problems allows her to use a logical thought process to bring order out of chaos. She has an amazing ability to address real-time clinical and operational challenges promptly, while improving communications and managing the team.”

Richtsfeld’s calm demeanor enables her to respond quickly and objectively to the needs of each child and their parents. Every child has a different story, and both children and parents require a tailored approach to their concerns. 

“Dr. Richtsfeld immediately creates a reassuring presence, and parents trust her because she is confident, thorough and patient. She responds to every concern or issue associated with the care of their child,” said Dr. Thomas.

Children born with cardiac conditions have several challenges. Corrective heart surgery done in the early part of their lives requires a demanding level of concentration, attention to detail and quick, reactive ability to provide optimal anesthesia during their perioperative period.

“An important part of my job is to pay close attention to what is happening to our patients throughout their care with us and to be able to adapt their anesthetic care at any given time,” says Dr. Richtsfeld. “Being present and focused throughout the entire procedure is one of the most important aspects of my work. It cannot be emphasized enough.”

Dr. Richtsfeld wants to use her leadership opportunities to focus on quality and safety initiatives, enhance the patient experience and improve outcomes for the children who need congenital heart surgery by continually optimizing the perioperative management for these patients.

“Seeing patients that are doing well after surgery, with their families on the other side; relieved, grateful and happy to be reunited with their children, is truly the most rewarding part of what I do,” says Dr. Richtsfeld.