Jeffrey Javidfar, MD
Jeffrey Javidfar, MD is a recently graduated member of the 2013 class at Columbia University Medical School’s Surgical Residency Program. Dr. Javidfar began his studies here in 2007, and is currently pursuing a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at Duke University. Before he left we caught up with him to learn more about his experience here at Columbia.
Q: How long have you been a resident at Columbia? What has been the focus of your residency?
Jeffrey Javidfar, MD: I began my training as a categorical in Columbia University Medical Center’s General Surgery Residency Program in 2007. I studied all aspects of general surgery. As part of this training, I helped perform surgical procedures and participated in the care of patients with a variety of diseases. In addition to bread and butter general surgery, I rotated through vascular, pediatrics, transplant and cardiothoracic surgery services. I found the thoracic service was particularly interesting and I did a year of research in the thoracic surgery lab between my 3rd and 4th clinical years. The research involved all aspects of thoracic surgery, including lung and esophageal cancer, mediastinal diseases, lung transplantation, and ECMO.
Q: What are your plans once you graduate? Are you continuing your studies in cardiothoracic surgery?
Dr. Javidfar: After graduation I am doing a fellowship at Duke University Medical Center in cardiothoracic surgery, and my focus will be in general thoracic surgery as well as lung transplantation. My hope going forward is to focus my career on thoracic surgery and also continue to work with end stage lung disease and ECMO. Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) essentially involves a machine that acts as artificial lungs. It is used for patients who are very sick and having difficulty exchanging air on a mechanical ventilator. It gives their lungs time to recover and heal from acute respiratory failure or can be used to bridge a patient awaiting lung transplantation.
Q: You did a lot of work with ECMO during your time at Columbia. How was that experience?
Dr. Javidfar: I was fortunate to arrive at Columbia just as the ECMO program was picking up, and I did a lot of work with Drs. Matthew Bacchetta and Joshua Sonett on the adult ECMO projects. They have laid the foundation for a thriving adult ECMO program and, along with the pulmonary and medical ICU teams, deserve a lot of the credit.
We are now one of the busiest, if not the busiest, adult ECMO programs in the U.S. and we have done collaborations with major ECMO centers in Europe. The people at Columbia have worked very hard and have made significant advances in the field of ECMO. I hope to continue this work moving forward in my career.
Q: Is it tough as a resident to go into a relatively new field such as ECMO?
Dr. Javidfar: It was tough, but also really exciting. When I began, ECMO was really taking off at Columbia, and I actually had the opportunity to author a majority of the adult ECMO papers coming out of our program in the past few years. So I was able to get a lot of great experience and I have seen the program grow into what it is today.
Q: What will you miss most about your residency?
Dr. Javidfar: What I will miss most are my fellow residents and the faculty here at Columbia. The faculty is great at taking care of patients, but they also have a natural desire to be invested in resident education. This desire to educate trickles down from the faculty to the senior residents, who pass it along to their junior residents.
Q: What kept your energy and enthusiasm going throughout the program? How do you approach work-life balance as a resident surgeon?
Dr. Javidfar: It can be very tiring sometimes, especially because in addition to the medical side there is a scholarly side that needs to be taken care of when you get home. You need to find one or two things in your life that are important and spend time on those. For me it was friends and family, so I made it a priority to spend time with them. Luckily, my family and friends were very understanding of my situation.
But to see the enthusiasm around you everyday really helps. Everybody here is enjoying themselves and happy to go to work. The strength of the program is the people, the faculty, and the support staff, and that is why a lot of residents stay and become faculty here at Columbia.
Q: What advice would you give to a new resident?
Dr. Javidfar: I would advise new residents to approach this experience with an open mind and soak up as much knowledge as possible. It is a challenge, but there are so many opportunities and you are only limited by your own ability to take advantage of them. As long as you can do the work and handle the challenge, the faculty is always willing to help and get you involved. You just need to show interest and be tireless.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to say about your time here at Columbia?
Dr. Javidfar: I had a great experience here. Columbia is in the unique position of having so many surgeons who are at the top of their fields in various specialties, and this really helps the residents. I appreciated the opportunity and getting to take full advantage of that.
Be sure to also stay tuned for the next article in this interview series:
Spotlight on Graduating Chief Resident Dr. Lisa Cannon