If you made a list of some of the worst things that could happen, wars and sick babies would be near the top. But these were the ingredients for the career of Daniel Bruzzini, whose military service as a physician included preparing doctors, nurses, and medics in the U.S. military to care for children in war zones. Now he’s in private practice, but his mission to help the youngest members of society remains the same.
Name: Daniel B. Bruzzini, MD, MBA, CPE (certified physician executive)
Hometown: Saint Louis
Degree: BS, ’90, biology honors
Current occupation: Director of Neonatology, Onsite Neonatal Partners
Family: Married 24 years to the former M. Kristen Blake, now Kristen Bruzzini (PhD, anatomy and cell biology, Maryville University in St. Louis); one daughter, Kaitlin Marie Bruzzini (21); and one son, Thomas James Bruzzini (18).
What do you do? I love helping families with the greatest gift God gives a family, their baby. In the neonatal intensive care unit, I am able to put my scientific skills, personal skills, and Catholic faith to good use helping fathers and mothers care for their very premature and/or sick baby.
What has been your career path? After Illinois, I went to the military medical school, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, in Bethesda Maryland. As the grandson of immigrants who achieved the American dream, I wanted to show my appreciation by serving in the military and to serve others as a physician. My first assignment was to New Mexico as a flight surgeon caring for fighter pilots and their families. During that three-year tour, I deployed to Saudi Arabia twice, Bahrain, and Oman to make sure the pilots were healthy to fly. I also took time out to help handicap children through a humanitarian mission in Oman. After serving fighter pilots, I want back to receive more training in pediatrics at Wright-Patterson AFB/Wright State University and then neonatal-perinatal medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. This training prepared me well to bring over 50 critically ill children and babies from Germany and Japan safely across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans when I was stationed there.
While in Germany, I deployed to Afghanistan on a humanitarian mission to improve the obstetrical, pediatric, and neonatal capabilities of the Afghan healthcare system. While there, my team and I ensured the safe Afghan delivery of President Karsai’s son, Mirwais. My favorite tour had me stationed at Saint Louis University where I developed a pediatric/trauma critical care program to prepare military physicians, nurses, and medics for the trauma/critical care needs of children affected by war, natural disasters, and humanitarian crises. I then disseminated this program to the Army, Navy, and Air Force, making the U.S. military the only military in the world preparing its doctors, nurses, and medics for the critical care needs of children. I also developed the “How to” Newborn resuscitation training program – a series of seven 5-minute videos that demonstrates how to care for a newly born baby in extremis. It visually shows you how to set up, how to intubate, how to put in intravenous lines, and how to coordinate the care being delivered in a timely fashion. It is accessible to anyone and receives over 12,000 views per year from all over the world.
I continue to use it to prepare new physicians, residents, and respiratory therapists to be ready when minutes matter in a baby’s life soon after birth. I served 25 years and earned the rank of colonel which only 1 percent of the military ever reaches. I am now in private practice as the director of neonatology for Onsite Neonatal Partners. Since you can’t be a good business without good medicine and you can’t practice good medicine without good business, I earned my MBA and became certified as a physician executive thus improving my ability to help my team help families care for their critically ill and/or premature babies.In hindsight, what about college best prepared you for your life and career?
The intensity and thoroughness of the Honors Biology program (now integrative biology) taught me how to approach a complicated question and to understand the “why”—not just the “what.” If you know the why and can logically approach each challenge systematically, then the solution and the subsequent reward for helping someone is absolutely well worth it.
Please describe your proudest achievement: Being a husband to my wonderful wife, the former Miss Kristen Blake, and a father blessed with a daughter and a son. Nothing worth anything is ever easy but they are what make my life worth living. They have supported me in everything I have done. I could not have done it without them.
Professionally, anytime I can help a family member with their baby is what makes earning the privilege to practice medicine worthwhile. Passing on this skill that others helped me develop is also another blessing for it allows me to “pay it forward” and help shape tomorrow for the better.