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Resident Spotlight: Abhi Kapuria, MD

Monday, September 25, 2017

Second-year (or PGY-2) resident Abhi Kapuria, MD, chose neurology both for the intellectual interest in the mind-brain-body connections and for the emotional bonds he was able to build with his patients. In his “Resident Spotlight” interview, Kapuria talks about his first few months as a neurology (rather than internal medicine) resident, his experiences working with the NIH and NHLBI before medical school, and his love of archery, escape rooms, and “hole-in-the-wall” restaurants.

What are your current responsibilities as a PGY-2 resident? What does your average work day look like?
The majority of the PGY 2 year is dedicated to inpatient neurology split between the general neurology, stroke, and consult services. On a typical inpatient day, I will read up on new patients, help manage any urgent or quickly changing issues with the team before rounds, and follow up on new admissions from overnight. Once rounds start, my role is to participate in discussions about not only the logistical side of patient care with the day-to-day but also now to help expand the conversation to broaden the differential and tighten up management. After rounds, the afternoon is used to manage upcoming issues, to think proactively about the patients’ course while they’re in the hospital, and to teach and learn neurology from one another on the team. I particularly focus on transitions of care and have started teaching as much as I can with the medical students. This year is my foundational year in neurology including working on improving my neurological exam, differential, and management across the board.

My outpatient time is divided between multiple subspecialty clinics and I have my own cohort of patients that I see weekly in the resident clinic that I will follow for the next three years before fellowship. I have yet to work in the NICU but look forward to it.
Throughout the week, there are multiple blocks of time dedicated to learning neurology. We have noon conference every day where an expert describes diagnosis and management, a morning report twice a week where the overnight resident presents the cases they had the opportunity to see first before anyone else. Besides Grand Rounds weekly, every Thursday we meet in the later afternoon for Interesting Case Conference to discuss our most complicated patients, and every Friday morning we have Neuroradiology conference to learn from our radiology peers.

How did you first get interested in neurology? What do you enjoy most about the field so far?
In medical school, I had kept an open mind, although admittedly I pursued a major in college called Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology. I have always found the brain-mind-person connection deeply fascinating but ultimately it was the type of patients that I encountered that brought me to neurology. My really stellar neurology mentors in medical school allowed me the time to spend freely getting to know my patients as people and in doing so realized just how much good can come from having a physician be an ally in the face of disease that may not have ultimate cures. I found it a powerful tool to help people understand what was happening to their bodies and minds and to come up with as many solutions as one could to help them in their most trying days. In neurology, I found the humanistic side of medicine that I really love being a part of and couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

What aspects of the coming year of your residency are you looking forward to the most?
This year is very exciting! There are so many opportunities to learn and get better at the core of neurology and to work with patients and see how they fare with the interventions we’ve chosen. I’m excited to work with all of the students and staff in learning and teaching one another interesting things about a seemingly limitless field, and I am excited to be humbled by depth of humanity I will see this year. I am early in my year and know there is so much to learn. It really is a dream come true.

Before coming to Duke, you were a research assistant for the NIH and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What were those experiences like? How have you used knowledge from that time in your current work?

I’ve been blessed with supportive mentors since I first started exploring medicine as a wheelchair volunteer auxiliary as a pre-teen. NIH was no different. I had the opportunity to see the scientific explorative side to medicine and see translational work with patients going through a host of hematological issues. My biggest takeaway beyond my first interactions with translational research was understanding just the amount of effort it took to strive to add real knowledge to the human condition so that people could have those cures you hope will one day come.

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?
I love escape rooms, I’ve been an archer for years but a little rusty now, and I love exploring small hole-in-the-wall restaurants across the state and beyond and have a lot more yet to see!

As an adult, Kapuria braved the Colorado river with friends...

and as a child, stoically endured another photoshoot.