When did you know you wanted to go into medicine?
My parents are both PhD’s in pharmacology. I spent the first few years of my life living with them in the dorms attached to the hospital that they were working at (and where I was born.) I even ate my meals in the hospital cafeteria! Every day walking through the hallways I saw Doctors - these magicians in white coats - and I knew I wanted to be like them when I grew up. So I guess the answer is... that I’ve wanted to go into medicine my entire life!
What is your most impactful memory from practicing medicine thus far?
There are so many stories that could fill this space, but here is one that stands out: In my 3rd year of residency I got to know a young couple who had been trying to conceive for three years. They had been all around and were rapidly giving up hope. I saw them on numerous visits, and got to know them quite well. The father had been told that he could never father a genetic child because he produced no sperm, and the entire ordeal was causing no small amount of strain on their marriage. After working with them for a long time, we were able to perform a surgery on him called a mTESE and extract just a few sperm directly from his testicles. With only a few sperm we weren’t sure of the chances of them getting pregnant, but gave it a shot anyway. After the surgery, I said farewell to the couple as I rotated to a different service. I didn’t hear from them for a while until a little over a year later, when I randomly got a page that this couple was back in the clinic and wanted to say hello. To be honest, I was surprised that they even remembered me. I made my way over to the office and there I was greeted with the sight of the happy couple - and their new baby daughter. Seeing her was a pretty magical moment for me, and while catching up with the parents, I got to hold the little girl, and I think that moment really sealed the deal for me in choosing my eventual subspecialty.
Podcasts or books or TV?
I have to admit that I’m a big science fiction nerd. Currently I’m finishing a series that started with “The Three-Body Problem” by Cixin Liu. The series is amazing and it won the Hugo Award for best SciFi novel in 2015. Apparently Barack Obama is a big fan too.
On the challenging days, what keeps you going? Where do you find inspiration?
When those days happen, and they certainly do, I think about my parents. They have long been my greatest source of inspiration - surviving the Chinese Cultural Revolution, emigrating to America to study and build a new life, and pouring all of their energy and resources into giving me the life that I have. Thinking about their struggles and sacrifice pushes me forward.
What is your ideal way to relax and unwind?
I love long hikes in the mountains - there’s nothing quite like the serenity of a night out in the backcountry amongst the stars.
If there was just one thing you could impart on women and/or men as they begin trying to become parents, what would it be?
Though the process can be frustrating, I encourage couples to always remember that this is a shared journey, the first of many shared journeys in parenthood together. Partners need to love and support each other through this process, regardless of whether the cause of infertility is male-factor, female-factor, or both.