The team at Vascular Specialist—led by Malachi Sheahan III, MD—is pleased to announce the appointment of University of Michigan resident Christopher Audu, MD, as our new resident/fellow editor. He replaces Laura Marie Drudi, MD, who last year graduated from fellowship and now practices as a vascular surgeon at Centre Hospitalier de L’Universite de Montréal in Canada. Here, Audu talks us through his vascular journey so far.
Tell us a little about your background and journey into vascular surgery.
CA: I was born and raised in Nigeria, where I lived until after high school, when I was fortunate to pursue a chemistry degree from Purdue University. I then matriculated to Dartmouth for medical and graduate school where I got a Chemistry PhD. My interest in vascular surgery came about circuitously. I did not decide on surgery until the end of my MS3 year, and I began looking for a surgical field that would value what I had to offer as a basic scientist interested in medicinal chemistry. One of my PhD projects had examined the role of endothelin receptor activation as a therapeutic target against rapid vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation (aka intimal hyperplasia), so I was hooked on vascular pathophysiology and the role for medicinal chemistry. I attended the 2014 Vascular Annual Meeting (VAM) and walked among the poster boards, and was delighted to see that there was a robust presentation of immunology, biochemistry and pharmacologic projects on display. On return from VAM, I completed my surgery rotation and fell in love with the breadth of expertise that vascular had to offer.
How did your involvement with Vascular Specialist come about?
CA: Ever since starting residency, I would read through Vascular Specialist with keen interest in Resident’s Corner [now Corner Stitch]. I had the opportunity to virtually meet Dr. Laura Drudi last year, and, after chatting for a bit, she asked me to consider writing a post for interns last July. That was my first post, and I guess the lessons I learned from my experiences resonated with enough people that I was asked to become a recurring contributor to the column.
What plans do you have for the paper in your role as resident/fellow editor?
CA: It is an honor and privilege to follow Dr. Drudi’s footsteps in this role, and I am grateful to have her as a mentor. The goal for Corner Stitch has always been to highlight topics that are germane to the vascular trainee in the here and now—from the medical student level up to the graduating resident/fellow. I would like to continue in this tradition and invite contributions from as diverse a body of trainees as is possible.
What do you feel are the biggest issues with vascular training at the present moment?
CA: That’s a great question. The number one goal as a vascular trainee is to become proficient, confident, compassionate surgeons who offer our patients the full gamut of comprehensive vascular care— and who are humble enough to learn new techniques, or refer to an expert if a particular skill is not in our wheelhouse. Ultimately, the patient in front of us is who matters foremost. I do believe our current training paradigms allow us to meet this goal, even though there is variation in regional practice and training patterns. Notwithstanding, the biggest issues with vascular training, I think, are twofold: inflow to the specialty and a need for wellness initiatives that are meaningful for the trainee.
Do you have any key advice for students and trainees eyeing vascular surgery?
CA: To students and others looking into vascular surgery, I’d encourage you to attend local and/or national vascular conferences. While there, see if the specialty checks the boxes of what you are looking for in a surgical career. Introduce yourself to people, or, if you are there with a mentor, have them introduce you to people. Finally, apply for residency/fellowship and don’t give up. We need you.