Dr. Jennifer Springer, MD
SCL Health Heart & Vascular Institute
As a girl, Colorado-native Jennifer Springer remembers fishing with her dad. Whenever he would open up a freshly caught fish, Jennifer found herself fascinated by its yet-beating heart and inner anatomy. This initial interest in science continued throughout childhood, culminating in a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at University of Colorado Boulder.
Unsure about whether or not to pursue medical school, Jennifer landed a job in the biotech industry with a company that made RNA—the same technology recently utilized in the Covid-19 vaccination. After five years in biotech, Jennifer felt herself growing a bit restless and realized she wanted a career that would help people more directly. She headed to the University of Vermont for her advanced medical degree. Missing the mountains of the west, she returned to Salt Lake City for her fellowship and residency program at the University of Utah. She did an extra year of training in advanced cardiac imaging and worked for a short time in California, before returning to her home state one year ago.
Dr. Springer currently works as a cardiologist with the SCL Health Medical Group specializing in heart and vascular care. She reads dozens of echocardiograms per day as well as cardiac CT’s and MRI’s which offer good pictures of the human heart. Springer is involved in both inpatient hospital care as well as outpatient clinical care and treats conditions such as coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure.
Dr. Springer laughs light-heartedly: “Taking a picture of the knee is really easy because it just sits there. But the heart is constantly in motion, and parts are moving independent of each other, so to be able to image it is challenging.” Yet Dr. Springer celebrates the fact that “in terms of imagining and procedures, technology is advancing tremendously.”
As evidence she sites examples such as improved image quality for echocardiograms, more detailed information from imaging studies and now being able to do things like cardiac CTs and MRIs. Springer also acknowledges the ability to now do more minimally invasively heart procedures, such as some aortic valve replacements and the placement of stents that are becoming routine practice within the last few years. “Things that five years ago no one would have thought were possible are now standard care.”
Dietary and lifestyle coaching are a routine part of the counsel Dr. Springer offers many of her patients. She acknowledges that it’s hard for patients to hear that sometimes their own choices have led to where they’re at physically. Similarly, many patients are resistant to taking medication, some of which gets a bad rap in the lay press; yet in the cardiac field, medication is how many conditions are successfully treated. These factors lead to the need for constant, compassionate re-education in an area of medicine that is often complex and complicated.
“The challenge is always to make sure that patients understand what you’re telling them and that they feel comfortable asking questions if they don’t,” she explains.
Dr. Springer and her sisters during their recent visit to Glacier National Park.
When it comes to collaboration within the broader medical community of the Grand Valley, Dr. Springer discusses the wider function of the many well-trained specialists within cardiology. For example, since she herself does not do invasive procedures, she relies on interventional cardiology, vascular surgery and CT surgery colleagues when her patients need stents, bypass or valve surgeries, vascular interventions, or pacemakers. On the flipside, Dr. Springer quite often receives referrals from the VA Hospital in Grand Junction or from outside areas such as Delta, and is able to offer guidance to physicians who consult one another in order to offer the best patient care possible.
Dr. Springer shares that as the SCL Health cardiology group expands and adds more physicians, they hope to someday provide disease specific clinics, such as a heart failure clinic, an A-fib clinic and an amyloid clinic. “As general cardiologists we manage well, but to have these clinics to provide a higher level of care for patients with more acute diagnoses would be phenomenal.”
Dr. Springer loves hiking in the great outdoors and considers herself “part fish” since she loves anything to do with water, including boating, waterskiing and kayaking. Last summer she and her sisters took a trip to Glacier National Park and she found it to be one of the most beautiful places she’s ever seen. Dr. Springer recently bought her own house and did all of her own landscaping. Overall, she finds some of her greatest satisfaction in helping people and considers it a privilege when patients give her their trust, often when they are literally facing life and death decisions.
Dr. Jennifer Springer is a cardiologist with SCL Health Heart & Vascular Institute based in Grand Junction. She is accepting new patients on a referral basis via primary care providers.