Childrens Giving and Growing Aug 2018

Main Content

Our Specialists: For peds critical care chief, it’s always been ‘about hearts’

Published on Tuesday, August 14, 2018

By: Annie Oeth

Dr. Jarrod Knudson, chief of pediatric critical care at Batson Children’s Hospital, was once a college sophomore who couldn’t decide on a major. 


“I was torn between being a literature and philosophy major or studying science,” said the Gainesville, Texas, native. “I took a physics class and enjoyed it, and a friend who worked in computer science was going back to school to major in pre-med, so that started me thinking about going to medical school.”

Once his medical studies began, it was apparent that Knudson had found his calling.

“Medicine is not a ‘hard’ scientific field,” he said. “There is science, but it also calls for people skills, empathy and an understanding of culture. It calls for a wide range of interests.

“My brothers and I would do stand-up routines at family gatherings growing up, so I liked talking to people. Medicine was a good fit.”

Knudson earned his M.D. and Ph.D. at Louisiana State University and was a resident at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. He was on the path to becoming a pediatric cardiologist specializing in critical care, something his wife, Carmen, spotted before he did.

“I had taken a physiology class, and the heart section was my favorite,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do something related to hearts. In my third-year rotation, I started looking at pediatric cardiology. I came home and told my wife, ‘Today I found out what I want to do.’ She said, ‘You’re going to become a pediatric cardiologist, aren’t you?’

“I said, ‘How did you know?’ She said it was obvious. I love kids, and I’ve always been interested in hearts. It’s always been about hearts.”

Knudson said leading pediatric critical care at Batson Children’s Hospital is his “dream job” and one that suits his skills and temperament.

“The cardiac population in our pediatric intensive care unit is unique,” he said. “Their conditions are highly volatile, and the most serious cases usually involve newborns and babies. I like to stay a step ahead, anticipate problems they might have and be ready for them. I think I am wired for this job.”

Knudson moved into the critical care leadership position shortly before ground was broken on the Children’s of Mississippi expansion, a project he sees as vital to the health of Mississippi’s children.

“We have the physicians, nurses, technicians and equipment,” Knudson said. “We just need a better facility. Right now, not having the building we need is the greatest hindrance to progress.

“Building this expansion for Children’s of Mississippi is the right thing to do, and we thank you for stepping forward and making this possible.”