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Fellow Spotlight: Imran Farooqui, MD

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
I Farooqui

As a neurology resident, Imran Farooqui, MD, knew that he wanted to focus on stroke when he saw the dramatic effects that tPA and thrombectomy had on an acute stroke patient. Now as our vascular neurology fellow, Farooqui is treating a variety of stroke patients here at Duke. In this week’s “Spotlight” interview, Farooqui talks to us about how he got into neurology, his plans for the future, and the things he misses most about his native Melbourne, Australia.

What are your current responsibilities as a stroke fellow?
I rotate through several different services related to vascular neurology, with a good portion dedicated to the inpatient stroke service. During inpatient time, under the oversight of the attending, I’m given the role of overseeing the service and ensuring work up and dispositions are going smoothly. I’ll also make sure the team is not overwhelmed and help out with issues as they arise.

While on service, I also attend stroke codes that are called in the hospital. There is a primary team of neurology residents who respond to these codes, and they do a superb job from beginning to end. My role is more of an observer and to help out with any questions or concerns which may arise throughout the process. I also have quite a lot of interaction with junior residents and medical students, so I always try to do my best in terms of teaching and providing useful clinical pearls I’ve picked up along the way.

What does a typical day for you look like?
It can be quite variable--it all depends on the rotation. Sometimes it will involve a morning sign out followed by rounds, other times it will involve an overnight shift in the NICU, and on occasion I could be at a local community hospital running the service. Regardless of where I am, the theme is dealing with patients that have vascular neurology needs and formulating a plan of care for them either directly or indirectly.

How and when did you first get interested in neurology?
I didn’t know I wanted to do neurology until my first exposure to neuroscience in medical school. We had a very enthusiastic teacher and his methods of teaching neuroanatomy and localization was an interactive and fun experience. After that exposure, neurology seemed like a series of clinical puzzles. Putting it all together with exam, history and imaging was appealing. Also, over the past decade there has been so much growth within the field. We are finding more ways to treat patients and help improve quality of life, which is a significant shift from how things were in the past.

How did you decide to specialize in strokes and vascular neurology?
I kept an open mind in residency and was actually on the fence between epilepsy and stroke. The deal-sealer was an encounter in residency where I oversaw the management of an acute stroke patient getting tPA followed by a thrombectomy. The patient transformed from severe neurological deficits, likely to be bed bound and fully dependent, to walking out of the hospital with a subtle limp and fully independent; all within a matter of days. I was blown away by the impact we could make for patients with acute stroke and never looked back.

What do you plan on doing after you complete your fellowship?
There’s two scenarios I’m thinking about. The first is to transition into the workspace as a neurohospitalist in hopes to pursue a directorship role down the road. The other is to pursue an additional fellowship in endovascular neuro-radiology. It’s all up in the air right now, I’m hoping this fellowship helps with that decision.

If you could have any job in the world what would it be?
I really envied what Anthony Bourdain did: Travel, eat and experience the world. I could not think of a better job.

You’re originally from Melbourne, Australia. What’s the one thing you miss the most about living there? What’s the biggest misperception people in the U.S. have about Australia?

What I miss is hard to pin down to just one item. I think it’s a combination of things:  culture, friends, cuisine, sports, outdoors… It all combines together to give me nostalgia. As for misperceptions, It all depends on the person you’re talking to. If they are well informed, it’s more of a curiosity discussion rather than a misperception one. If they happen to be less informed, you’ll definitely hear cliche pop-culture references that we are all accustomed to.

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of work?
I enjoy traveling and experiencing the local food and culture. I'm a big football fan and usually glued to the TV on the weekends. Small shout out to the University of Texas and Hook em’ Horns...

Farooqui relaxes with his mother and sister (above), as well as his father (below).