"Our training will get you to wherever you want to go."
What made you want to become a surgeon?
When I went to medical school, I thought I wanted to do surgery. I had a father-in-law who’d had a liver transplant, so seeing the effect a surgical procedure could have on a patient’s life—to save it—was something I thought would be very rewarding. And so I came to medical school with an open mind, but already thinking about doing surgery.
During my third year, that was solidified—being able to directly see those problems, do procedures to help patients with their problems, was something I found a lot of gratification in. It was also how I knew I wanted to do a procedural specialty. After doing my rotations, I just loved general surgery a lot. The diversity of medical problems that we see was especially intriguing.
What stands out to you about your training at UF?
I went into the interview process with a really open mind. I knew that I wanted to do academics after I completed residency, and I thought that I wanted to go to a seven-year program. I wanted to have those two years to work on academic development—to find a niche for myself where I could start to think on how I wanted to develop my skills in the future. Programs that had research opportunities were at the top of my list, and when I got to UF I loved it. The research time is guaranteed, you don’t have to go and find your own funding, everyone does it.
I think this program presents you with unlimited opportunities. You’re at a primary referral center, you’re seeing complex cases, disease pathologies you may not see anywhere else. Your surgery training is as good as it gets. It doesn’t get any better. It presents you with the training and experience you need to do whatever you decide to do after residency. Our training will get you to wherever you want to go.
I’m married with three children. I have twins, so I got the 2-for-1 special. But I couldn’t imagine being in a big city. We own a house with multiple bedrooms, a yard my kids can play in, and it’s all affordable on a resident’s salary. It doesn’t matter whether you’re single or have a family to support, too—it’s somewhere that you can come and own a house, and make it your own home to live in. Our surgery department is super family friendly, and even has a family feel to it. The residents get along really well. We all take care of each other and watch out for each other, whether it’s letting each other’s dogs out or taking turns with helping care for our kids. One time I was working, and one of our irrigation pipes burst. One of my co-residents immediately went over and helped my wife while I was working.
What was one of the most memorable moments of your residency?
The timing of COVID-19 coincided with my time spent on the thoracic surgery service. I had multiple, amazing experiences seeing these patients get lung transplants for damage to their lungs from the virus. We are one of the few centers doing these procedures. Some of these patients are being referred to us on ECMO—unable to get off ECMO, in the middle of end-stage lung disease. Without us, they would have died. And many of these people are health care workers who picked this up on the job, helping take care of other COVID-19 patients.
They were risking their health to take care of patients, and we were able to work them up and eventually transplant a couple of them while I was on service. So, participating in those transplants as a small part of the team that made national news was an emotional thing. It was amazing to see. It was a moment where I knew medicine was the right choice, and that what surgery offers was the right choice.
What advice would you give other residents?
You’re going to see some incredible things happen. Make sure you take time to enjoy it.