Dr. Rachel McDonald joined the Department of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine as an Assistant Professor in September, 2020.
Dr. McDonald attended the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where during her third year of medical school, she was recognized for both her medical knowledge and clinical skills and was voted into Alpha Omega Alpha. During this time, she discovered her interest in critical care medicine, advanced cardiac and respiratory failure and extracorporeal life support, and published multiple clinical research articles related to these topics.
After medical school, Dr. McDonald completed residency in internal medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. She was recognized for her collaboration skills and clinical ability, and was chosen to serve on the Housestaff Liaison Committee and recognized as Resident of the Month. Additionally, she was active in both clinical and research endeavors. She received a research grant through the Mentors in Medicine program, and was a member of the Global Health Scholars program in Guatemala. She then stayed at Washington University to complete a two-year critical care fellowship within the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. She further developed her interest in the management of advanced respiratory failure and extracorporeal life support, spending additional time with our cardiothoracic surgery colleagues to further her understanding of the proper use and indications for ECMO.
After fellowship, Dr. McDonald moved to Virginia where she worked at a community hospital. She worked in a variety of intensive care units, mentored healthcare students in their clinical training, and worked with multidisciplinary team members on quality improvement in the intensive care unit. Additionally, she continued with her interest in advanced respiratory and cardiac failure, completing an ECMO management course as well as serving as an integral member of the ECMO Steering Committee. This committee founded and initiated an ECMO program at the community hospital where she worked. She continued to be an integral part of this program, serving as one of the primary consulting and managing physicians for all ECMO patients at this hospital.
Dr. McDonald’s main clinical and research interests include extracorporeal life support (ECLS) for advanced cardiac and respiratory failure as well as the diagnosis and treatment of acute pulmonary embolism. She is currently collaborating with our cardiac surgery colleagues to continue to improve and expand the ECLS program at Washington University. She also serves as the critical care representative for the pulmonary embolism response team (PERT) designed to provide multidisciplinary care for patients with massive and submassive pulmonary embolism. She is involved in education and training of critical care fellows, and is currently the Assistant Program Director for Critical Care.