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Staff Spotlight: Paul Zwelling

Friday, February 22, 2019

Paul Zwelling, the team leader of the EMG lab within Duke Clinic, is the subject of this week’s “Spotlight” interview. Zwelling talks to us about the variety of patients and the familial atmosphere he encounters in his routine, how EMG studies have become friendlier to patients over the past 20 years, and enjoying time with family and working on home improvement projects when he’s not at work. He also talks about common concerns patients have about EMG and how his team work to address them.

What are your current responsibilities at the Duke EMG lab? What does a typical day for you look like?
As the team leader of our EMG lab, I have several responsibilities. I’m responsible for patient care and administering a wide variety of nerve conduction tests. I try to figure out a good workflow between other techs, fellows, and residents. Finally, I try to address scheduling problems with the support staff.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy the wide variety of testing we do in the lab, which includes nerve conduction, repetitive nerve stimulation, muscle biopsies, and EMG. We see a very broad cross-section of patient conditions in the lab which eliminates the monotony that would otherwise be there. I also enjoy being around all my coworkers and team members in the lab. We have a very familial atmosphere within the lab which helps with the daily grind.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Dealing with patients’ pre-conceived notions of what EMG is. We take pride in this lab to alleviate the fears people have about EMG. They are usually extremely concerned about the pain that may be experienced. Making the patient comfortable along with having a good experience can be very difficult. Our team does an excellent job addressing these concerns and making a difficult test tolerable for these patients.

You’ve been involved in nerve conduction studies of some form or another for the past 20 years. What’s been the biggest change in the field for you? What changes do you see coming over the next decade?
EMG equipment has become extremely user friendly over the years. Many different types of studies can be done with relative ease. Ultrasound has become a very important part of what we do here in the lab also. It is both cost-effective and painless for the patient.

What other passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?
I enjoy spending the majority of my time outside of work with my 12-year-old daughter Joedin and wife Amy, along with my pets. We recently moved into a new house and have multiple home improvement projects to accomplish.

Zwelling takes time to pose with man's best friend.