Englewood Hospital’s Dr. Herbert Dardik Reflects on a Lifetime of Achievements

Dardik Herbert, MD

(Courtesy of Englewood Hospital) On most afternoons, Herbert Dardik, MD, can be found in his office at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, hosting a discussion with a group of students—some days surgery residents, other days high school students.

Dr. Dardik, chief emeritus of vascular surgery and general surgery, performed vascular surgery for more than 57 years. Now 82, he’s retired from the operating room, but still keeps office hours, works in the vascular research lab and continues to teach vascular surgeons, surgery residents and aspiring medical students.

A Founding Father of Vascular Surgery

Dr. Dardik, widely recognized as a founding father of vascular surgery, was recently presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Vascular Surgery—the first surgeon from a community hospital to receive this prestigious award. In fact, he has received two lifetime achievement awards; the other is from the Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery.

“They recognized that I was doing academic work right here in the community at Englewood. Our work showed that research could be done in a community hospital, and these organizations began to ask, why can’t others do it? Today, many other community-based physicians are doing research.”

Vascular Surgery Training Program at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center—for Nearly 40 Years

When founded by Dr. Dardik in 1978, the vascular surgery fellowship (specialty training) was only the eighth such program in the nation. The hospital also trains general surgeons and internal medicine residents. Over the years, Englewood Hospital and Medical Center has trained more than 50 vascular surgeons, as well as dozens of general surgeons and countless general practitioners.

Vascular Research Lab at Englewood—Celebrating 30 Years

Englewood Hospital and Medical Center’s Vascular Research Lab allows surgery residents to conduct research and publish as part of their training. All of this has helped to make Englewood a leader in vascular surgery in the New York metropolitan area. “I say to surgeons, don’t throw away the books. There is a lot of joy in keeping the data and maybe even reporting on it.”

High School Shadow Program Inspiring Students for More Than 20 Years

“One of my biggest passions is high school students. At Englewood, since 1996 we’ve had a shadow program, where 10 high school seniors come for a full day every week and rotate out to different areas and specialties. They are exposed to all aspects of how a hospital works—right down to how the instruments are sterilized. By the end of the school year, they have seen the entire hospital. Many of them go on to careers in healthcare. On other afternoons, two groups of eleventh graders get a chance to learn about science. They learn research, safety and how to deal with scientific challenges. These students have no idea what medical research is like. They might like it!”

Some questions for Dr. Dardik:

Lifelong learning is such a Jewish value. What role has this played in your life?

“I bless my parents. My parents were Russian immigrants. They didn’t know certain things, but they knew that they were important, and they made sure we learned them. My father was a Hebrew scholar and teacher. He was disabled, so he would teach students at home—these were often kids who could not be in school for one reason or another.

“I went to public school, and after school I would join the other children my father was teaching. After dinner my father continued to study with me. When I went to college, all the things that I did with my father, the legalistic challenges from the Bible, prepared me for lifelong learning and thinking.”

Did you always want to be a doctor?

“Actually, I wanted to be a pianist. When I was told I had no talent I had to find something else. I went to college in the Bronx with a lot of other great students and got caught up in the competition. All of a sudden, I was in medical school! I didn’t want to be a surgeon, didn’t think I’d be a vascular surgeon. And I would do it all again! I tell the high school students we mentor, you may be ready to make up your mind, but be open to new possibilities. It’s so important.”