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Heart Care Runs in this SLUHN Family
November 27, 2023

The Durkin family of cardiologists (from left): Brian Henstenburg, DO; Raymond Durkin, MD; Matthew Durkin, MD; Michael Durkin, MD.

Matthew Durkin, MD, and Brian Henstenburg, DO, are on a path to become the third and fourth cardiologists in their family at St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN). They’re following in the footsteps of Matthew’s father, and Brian’s uncle, Raymond Durkin, MD, St. Luke’s Chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine, and their uncle, Michael Durkin, MD, a general cardiologist with the network.

Over the past 15 years, Raymond Durkin, MD, has driven the network to become the area’s leader in heart care, achieving national accolades for innovation and quality care, including being named one of the nation’s 50 Top Heart Hospitals.

A member of SLUHN since 2008, Dr. Durkin is an interventional cardiologist who treats patients for blocked heart arteries, failing heart valves and a variety of other cardiac problems, often using catheters, balloons and stents in the cardiac catheterization laboratory at St. Luke’s Bethlehem Campus.

Four doctors in one family isn’t common in the US, and four cardiologists is even rarer. But that will change in the Durkin extended family, in 2026, when Matthew and Brian complete their fellowship in Cardiovascular Diseases, which they began in July at St. Luke’s. A fellowship, which follows a residency, is a period of advanced, intensive education and training focused on a medical specialty.

Matthew, age 29, and Brian, age 29, are two of the four new cardiology fellows at St. Luke’s, who will train here over the coming three years. Matthew graduated from Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine then competed an Internal Medicine residency there in June before starting the fellowship. 

Brian, Raymond’s sister’s son, earned his degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, then completed an Internal Medicine residency at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Despite being exposed to cardiology for most of his life—his mother was a cardiac surgery nurse-- Matthew didn’t discover his passion for medicine until he was midway through college. He adds that he wasn’t planning to follow his father and uncle into heart care until recently.

His father was surprised at this choice, but he’s proud of his son.

“In high school, Matt was a happy-go-lucky kid who seemed more interested in socializing than studying,” Raymond recalls. “Then in college, he started studying hard and getting good grades and showing his interest in medicine.”

Adds the youngest Durkin, “Eventually, it just made sense during my residency that I’d go into cardiology after exploring other specialties. It checked all the boxes for me.” He has an older brother who is an attorney and a sister, who works in human resources. Matthew lives in his own home in Center Valley.

Besides his smarts, strong work ethic and passion for being a doctor, Matthew is fluent in Spanish, a skill he learned in grade school in a total immersion program at Southern Lehigh Elementary School. He will use this language facility to help St. Luke’s treat its growing Hispanic patient population.

Raymond says he never really encouraged his son to follow his career path, adding that Matthew is going into cardiology with eyes wide open. “Matt grew up around cardiology. He saw me on call, rushing off to emergencies and heard me talk about the advances in heart care. He also saw how cardiology consumes you and also can be quite fulfilling.”

Raymond’s brother, Michael Durkin, MD, is 10 years younger than Raymond and is a general cardiologist, the field Matthew is pursuing. Michael diagnoses and treats a range of heart ailments, prescribing medicines, ordering and interpreting heart tests such as echocardiograms and nuclear studies. He refers some patients to his brother and other St. Luke’s interventional cardiologists, and, when necessary, to heart surgeons.

He has been practicing for 15 years, and has an outgoing personality, like his nephew. His older brother, he notes, is more driven to shoulder both intense clinical procedures and demanding leadership duties.

In addition to providing patient care, Michael is involved in teaching the cardiology fellows, the future heart care specialists that include his two nephews. They will continue treating, and hopefully, preventing or reversing, heart disease, the nation’s leading cause of death, when he and Raymond retire.

Raymond is pleased that Matthew, Brian and the other new fellows, will help bolster the dwindling supply of cardiologists that the nation is experiencing currently.

“They will become more critical as cardiologists retire or leave the profession due to burnout, and Baby Boomers age and develop heart conditions requiring medical care,” he says, adding that thoughts of retirement haven’t yet entered his mind.

He’s eager for his son and nephew to consider joining St. Luke’s Heart & Vascular Center in a few years and offers them the advice that has guided him during his career as a highly respected cardiologist and medical leader in the Lehigh Valley.

"Show up on time, work hard, be sincere and have your patients’ best interests at heart, and you’ll be successful.”