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Faculty Spotlight: Christian Robles, MD

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

As a college student, Christian Robles, MD, one of our newest clinical faculty members, was terrified of blood and pursued engineering rather than medicine. After reflection, however, he overcame these fears and decided to pursue neurology with a focus in epilepsy. In this week’s “Faculty Spotlight” interview, Robles talks to us about that decision, how his Christian faith influences his work, and adjusting to the “Southern hospitality” of Durham after living in Tampa, Florida.

One of our newest clinical faculty members, What are your responsibilities within the Neurology Department? What does your average work day look like?

I am one of the outpatient providers whose primary goal is to provide adequate access to neurological services in the community. Thus, I have clinic all week and interpret EEGs when I’m on EEG call for Duke Raleigh.

What drew you to neurology? How did you decide to focus on epilepsy in particular?
I have always been intrigued by the remarkable intricacies of the brain which we know so little about. However, after graduation from high school, I had no intention of going into medicine (I was terrified of the idea of dealing with blood) but rather started out as an engineering major in college.

It was not until the middle of my sophomore year in college after much prayer, reflection, and guidance that the calling to pursue medicine despite my fears and insecurities came to me. I then learned of the field of neurology which combined my curiosity of the brain and nervous system with my desire to help others.

I then learned of the field of epilepsy during medical school and how much of a difference one can make in helping people gain back their independence and overcome their fears. Epilepsy affects about 1% of the population and can really impact a person’s quality of life. Even helping just one person get back to living their life normally makes the entire journey worthwhile.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
Listening to each patient’s story and learning about them as people.

You’ve spoken about how your faith plays a large role in your life. Where did this faith come from, and how does it affect your decision to practice medicine?
Definitely, the seed of my faith was planted by mom and she continued to nurture it through my childhood by taking us to church and by her example of selfless love.

Faith calls us to live a life of love, humility, and compassion and I think the practice of medicine challenges us similarly. It is definitely a daily challenge which I admittedly struggle with at times but I find hope and encouragement in my family, friends, patients, and colleagues.

You’re coming to Duke after nearly a decade in Tampa at the University of South Florida. What do you miss most about the Tampa region? What’s been the biggest surprise about life in Durham?
I definitely miss my family and friends, and knowing how to get to places without Google maps. I was surprised by how welcoming and kind everyone has been. I am now a witness of the “southern hospitality” which for some reason is not the same in Florida

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?
I enjoy going to church, spending time with my wife and dog, the gym, sports, and observing nature.

C Robles and wife Joanna
Robles poses with his wife Joanna.