with Dr. Cyril Varghese, PGY-3
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
“Although born in India, most of my childhood was spent in Saudi Arabia where my parents were employed. I went to high school in Bangalore, a cosmopolitan city in South India, and then moved with my family to Dallas where I completed my undergraduate degree and medical training. I am married and recently became a proud father! I believe the essence of life can be found in the context of relationship with the Creator and the people He has placed in my life. This includes my fellow residents – I have gotten to know some really cool and awesome people in the last 2.5 years. I enjoy fishing, playing the guitar, singing, travelling and most recently - playing silly games with my baby daughter.”
Why did you choose to pursue IM residency training at Mayo Clinic?
“After about five residency dinners and interviews, the various programs began to merge in my mind. But for some reason Mayo stood out. It was more than just a gut feeling - the program was carefully and intentionally designed to be resident centric. Residency training is akin to a bell shaped curve. There is a “sweet spot” where learning is maximized. Residents need to be busy to gain experience from a wide variety of clinical scenarios, but constantly engaging in busy work has diminishing returns. It is vital for every good physician to have time to reflect, study and have a life outside medicine. After 2.5 years I can say with confidence we achieve that ‘sweet spot’ here.”
“The intangible aspect of Mayo, however, is its culture. It cannot be described – it has to be experienced. No one seems to have a chip on their shoulder despite being highly accomplished in their fields. There is an atmosphere of humility and reliance on each other that makes for an excellent working environment. I can say without embellishment that I enjoy going to work every day. I am sure most of my colleagues share my sentiment.”
Cyril, you took part in the Mayo International Health Program (MIHP), could you tell us about that experience?
“My time in Tenwek hospital, Kenya, during the second year of my residency, has forever made an impact in my life. The only reason I even have this experience is because MIHP funded most of my oversea travel and living expenses. Like many memorable events however, it began with terror. I can still remember the medical superintendent coming to my guest room and saying these words ‘we are short staffed and your role here will be that of an attending. You will be supervising the work of Kenyan residents and overseeing patients in the ICU, step down unit and general wards.’ My heart skipped several beats – this would be the ultimate test of the training I had received at Mayo. It would not only be a test of my knowledge but my ability to adapt to a resource-poor setting.”
“Looking back I can say that I didn’t just survive but did well at Tenwek. In addition to taking care of patients, I was able to hold formal and informal teaching sessions for the residents, identify systems issues in the hospital and even start QI projects - one of which had an immediate observable impact even before I left. What is noteworthy is that every single one of my Mayo colleagues would have achieved all of this and more, if placed in a similar situation. We are ‘taught to teach’ at Mayo. We are encouraged daily to look beyond the ‘human errors’ and identify ‘system issues’ that can be changed or modified. What we get here is more than clinical knowledge and experience. We learn to think a certain way and that has far reaching implications in the way we practice medicine in a resource rich or poor setting.”
What are your plans after residency?
“I might either go for GI fellowship or pursue a career in General Internal medicine. I am fortunate that during my chief year, I will have opportunity to carefully consider my options.”
Thank you to Dr. Cyril Varghese for taking the time to share about himself and his experience at Mayo Clinic!
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