Professor of medicine and associate director and clinical chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution.
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Professor of Medicine and Associate Director and Clinical Chief
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and The Johns Hopkins Hospital
Member of: The Anthropology Club
Favorite Professors at Adelphi: Warren Eickelberg and John Vetter
Medical School, Internship, and Residency: University of Maryland
Fellowship: University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Advice for Students: Do well in the sciences, but don’t let them envelop you because there will be plenty of that in medical school. A liberal arts education is what teaches you more about the world. It will help develop your skills to talk to people from different backgrounds and become a more understanding and compassionate person.
Preserving Traditions and Transforming Lives
Stimulated by an interest that developed as a Boy Scout during his high school days, Jonathan Orens began independently studying and recording the music of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma in order to preserve their culture for future generations. When Dr. Orens came to Adelphi, no one in the anthropology department specialized in ethnomusicology, but Professor John Vetter helped guide his project.
“Professor Vetter took my internal energy and turned it into goal-directed productivity,” Dr. Orens recalls. “In retrospect, I was just a kid. Professor Vetter was able to appreciate the education I was getting…He fostered it and developed it.”
Although passionate about his project, Dr. Orens knew his hobby was not going to be his career. While working as a paramedic for the Nassau County Police Department during his senior year, Dr. Orens had a revelation: he wanted to be a doctor. He expected to be laughed at when he went to meet with Adelphi’s director of the pre-med curriculum. Instead, Professor Warren Eickelberg told him, “If you want to be a doctor, you’ll go to the end of the earth to be a doctor,” and drew up a plan in which Dr. Orens would take all the courses he needed for pre-med during a fifth year at Adelphi.
Today, Dr. Orens is professor of medicine and associate director and clinical chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution, ranked the number one hospital in the United States by U.S. News and World Reports. He treats patients with general lung disorders, evaluates candidates for lung transplants, cares for these patients in the intensive care unit after their transplant, and follows their progress for the rest of their lives.
While a lung transplantation is not a cure, it can prolong a patient’s life and dramatically alleviate their symptoms. “You may not be able to cure the patient,” Dr. Orens says, “but you can make the patient feel much better and live much longer.”
Dr. Orens has helped establish international guidelines for lung transplantation and implemented standards of practice for the care of lung transplant patients. He and his team continue to conduct research on chronic rejection of the lung. They hope to understand the causes of rejection, so that one day, long-term survival chances after lung transplantation will dramatically increase.
Dr. Orens’ expertise is requested worldwide; he has cared for presidents, Kings, and VIPs around the globe. While this part of his job brings great excitement, he mostly enjoys teaching his specialty to students and young doctors.
“As a doctor you have the power and tools to do amazing things. You can have an impact on a human being’s life,” says Dr. Orens. “I love every minute of what I do. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Today, Dr. Orens’ recordings of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma are housed in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Considered a trusted medical doctor in their community, Dr. Orens still returns to Oklahoma to provide medical assistance to the Ponca.
While Dr. Orens is certainly kept busy with his professional responsibilities, he makes certain to reserve time for his family. He lives with his wife and two daughters in their home outside Baltimore.
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