Friends in Medicine ~ Dr Justin Shafa: Resident in Diagnostic Radiaology.

By berrysmotivation - December 17, 2018


Dr Justin Shafa is a resident in diagnostic radiology. He says he decided to pursue medicine when he was in 10th grade, around the time his dad had brain surgery for an unruptured aneurysm. 
   "I was also following in my brother's footsteps; he was starting medical school at that time. I applied to a few combined BA/MD programs and got accepted to the accelerated 7 year BA MD program at the george washington university"

What attracted you to Radiology and what does an interventional radiologist do?
I always wanted to be active with my hands. I started thinking neurosurgery, then ENT, then general surgery. My brother was a general surgery resident and he recommended I check out Iinterventional Radiology(IR) as he thought I would fit it well. IR is a combination of radiology and surgery. We do minimally invasive procedures, either directly through the skin or by getting into an artery/vein in your thigh, arm, or neck and then using wires and catheters to naviage throughout the body. We treat patients of all ages and we treat conditions from the toes to the head. IR is heavily involved in treating cancer patients, which is called interventional oncology.

What steps did you take steps to get to this level and how long is Residency in radiology in the United states? 
After medical school, I did a surgical intern year. I am now in my 2nd of 4 years of diagnostic radiology residency. Sometime next year, I will apply for fellowship in IR, which is a 1 year fellowship 

What are the difficulties in qualifying to become an interventional radiologist?
It is an exciting time for IR. There are big changes in the training model, which leaves a little uncertainty for us. The year after I graduated medical school, IR was designated as a primary speciality meaning medical students now can apply directly to IR residency rather than doing diagnostic radiology residency then applying for IR fellowship. This means that eventually, over the coming years, IR fellowships will be phased out.

What is a typical work day like for you?
As a general diagnostic radiology resident, my work day is usually 8am-5pm. Every week, I might be on a different speciality; if I'm lucky, it will be interventional radiology. An average day will have a morning lecture and a lunchtime lecture, and I'm otherwise reading x-rays, CTs, MRI, or doing procedures.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Radiology is a very diverse field. One case, you may be reading a head CT for a trauma patient, the next is a knee MRI for a basketball injury, the next an US for a pregnant female with vaginal bleeding, and then a pediatric chest x-ray. You have to be able to adapt quickly.

How do you create a work:life balance? (e.g hobbies)
I am trying to enjoy life in NYC. I try to be as active as possible, going to the gym as much as I can and taking some boxing classes around the city. I love to eat and explore all the new spots in NYC. I love finding a nice rooftop to enjoy the amazing city views.

On social Media you talk about your app? What is your app about and what made you create one? 
I felt that there needed to be a general IR app that explained our various procedures, and I saw that one didn't exist, so I created it. I thought it would be helpful not only for patients but also for residents and staff like me in being able to better understand and explain the scope of interventional radiology. The app details more than 100 IR procedures across the various aspects and body systems of IR.

Please share any of your best and worst experience as a doctor.
There are too many in each category. I remember when one of my patients crashed and I started to do CPR on him. We had to intubate him and move him to the surgical ICU. Hours later, he was up and walking around and went home only a few days later.

Another time, a transplant patient was deteriorating so we moved him to the ICU. I had taken care of him the entire ICU stay. I went home right after he was moved to the ICU, and when I got back in for my next shift, I first when to his room to see how he was doing. The room was empty. He had passed away during the day.

What advise or tips do you have for aspiring Residents who will like to be on same path as you.
DM me at @doctor.justin and we can talk. I like helping out fellow med students and residents, especially if they are going into radiology, surgery, or IR

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