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Alumni Spotlight: Rebecca Hurst, MD

Monday, September 2, 2019
R Hurst

As a neuromuscular fellow at Duke, Rebecca Hurst, MD, refined her single-fiber EMG technique by literally using the arm of her mentor, Janice Massey, MD, for practice. Now, she’s using the knowledge she gained here at USF Healthcare, where among other duties as Chief of Neurology at Tampa General Hospital she sees patients in the inpatient and outpatient setting, and mentors both 4th-year medical students and residents. For this week’s spotlight interview, Hurst talks to us about the challenges and joys of treating patients with neuromuscular conditions, offers advice for medical students and residents curious about neuromuscular diseases, and discusses what she gained from her time here at Duke.

What are your current responsibilities at USF Healthcare? What does a typical day for you look like?
My current position at USF allows me to have a diverse schedule where I participate in resident education primarily in the hospital setting. I round on the general inpatient neurology service and staff patients with a resident and medical student team on a daily basis. I see neuromuscular patients in my clinic as well as perform electrodiagnostic testing including single fiber EMG. I am also the 4th year medical student clerkship director and I am currently working on developing new curriculum for students on the Neurology track. I serve as Chief of Neurology at Tampa General Hospital (the primary academic hospital associated with USF).

How and when did you decide to focus on treating patients with neuromuscular conditions? What do you enjoy most about this work?
During my 3rd year of residency I had the opportunity to do intensive neurophysiology training as well as elective time in neuromuscular disease. Patients with neuromuscular conditions were far and away what I found to be most challenging and had the most interesting exam findings. I really enjoyed learning electromyography and wanted more in depth training.

The same facets are still true regarding what I enjoy about neuromuscular patients. Sometimes diagnosis can be challenging but also rewarding. There continues to be more options in regards to treatments and clinical trials available for these patient populations. I enjoy managing acute neuromuscular diseases as this can be quite dramatic in regards to improvement.

What parts of the neuromuscular fellowship program at Duke were most valuable for your current work?
The volume and complexity of electrodiagnostic studies I completed during my fellowship has been an invaluable piece of education. I feel very comfortable with my skill set of performing and interpreting studies. I love sharing and teaching neurophysiology.

What’s one memory from the fellowship that stands out especially for you?
I remember learning single fiber EMG. Especially early on, I recall thinking how technically difficult the study is to complete and Dr. Janice Massey allowing me to practice on her arm. I was awed at how patient she was with me.

What advice or words of wisdom do you have for early-career neurologists or medical students interested in neuromuscular medicine?

Don’t underestimate the value of understanding peripheral neuroanatomy. We use it every day to care for this special subset of patients. Get exposure to these clinics with neuromuscular patients. Understanding what a neuromuscular specialist does and what types of patients are seen is beneficial to solidify your interest.

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of work?
Besides spending time with my family (my husband and my kids, 7 month old daughter and 2 ½ year old son) I enjoy running and paddle boarding and most any outdoor activity in Florida. I love to try new restaurants or new cuisines.

Hurst and her children enjoy the sunny beaches of Florida's sunny Gulf coast.