‘I am a new father and I want to teach my daughter how I always live my life by just listening to people.’
New Hyde Park
“I love being a geriatrician. For me, geriatric medicine is not just the care of older adults and vulnerable people; it’s the care of families as a whole. We help people navigate through complex health systems and diseases. Most importantly, we help people to live more functional and enjoyable lives. Many patients come in with a list of 10 doctors and 15 medications. It is my job to try to simplify things so that they can walk or eat better, and spend more quality time with their families.
“My father is a geriatrician as well. There’s a photo that he showed at my wedding of me as a 3-month-old reading a geriatric journal with him. I guess it was ingrained in me that I was going to go into this field. I liked science and writing; medicine incorporates everything. You can make such an impact as a physician, even if it’s not medical. In April 2020, when family members were not allowed in the ER, I spent time with a man who was in his 90s and only had hours of life left. We got his daughter on the phone, and she said incredibly personal things that I don’t think any person should have the privilege of hearing, but we’re there to help facilitate that. Her partner got on and whispered, ‘I don’t know if you can hear me, but I want to ask for permission to marry your daughter.’ I was taken aback. Then he said, ‘No matter where you’re going and no matter what happens, I want you to know that I’m going to be here to care for your daughter forever.’ I was speechless to be included in such a personal moment. The fact that we’re there to facilitate that is more valuable than any medicine than I could have given. The man died a few hours later, but we saved their lives in some ways by allowing that to happen. That experience drives the way I practice medicine.
If you’re not learning something new every day in medicine, you’re not looking around enough. There are certainly not enough of us geriatricians, but it is the most rewarding job.
“It was the most personal moment in the least personal way. I am a new father and I want to teach my daughter how I always live my life by just listening to people. Having that humility that you don’t know much allows you to learn a lot. If you’re not learning something new every day in medicine, you’re not looking around enough. There are certainly not enough of us geriatricians, but it is the most rewarding job.”
The person profiled here has been a guest on Newsday Live.