Welcome to another installment in the Future Proof Docs series. As a reminder, this is a series of posts highlighting physicians who excel at something outside of medicine and care enough to share their passions with us. Today I want to introduce Sarel Gaur MD - a fellow interventional radiologist and creator of the online video radiology residency concept. I hope you will enjoy this Q&A.
I would say I’m Sarel Gaur MD, aka #SARELGAURMD, an interventional radiologist at Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital in Satyr, PA. Also a Youtube content producer/vlogger and amateur writer. Mostly an internet enthusiast. Also a husband, son, brother.
[FPMD: I first met Sarel when I was interviewing for IR fellowship at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, GA and it wasn't until later did I realize he was the voice behind all those radiology videos I've been watching!]
When and why did you decide to become a physician?
Growing up as an Indian kid, I was exposed to a lot of Indian physicians (My parents are not physicians although both have PhDs in chemistry). The physicians I knew seemed to always drive nice cars and live pretty respectable lives. So naturally, it appeared to be a good career aspiration.
I used to watch a show called Dr. 90210 about a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills. The surgeon was a really interesting guy. His life seemed to revolve around his patients and personal relationships and the show was extremely entertaining. So that was also an inspiration - to be a plastic surgeon and hopefully make a big impact on people's’ lives.
Lastly, my father. At some point in my undergraduate education, he told me I should really think about being a physician and nothing else. I agreed that it was a good career choice and didn’t think to argue with him. Fortunately I was accepted to medical school shortly after starting my last year of college.
[FPMD: I've never seen Dr. 90210 but perhaps I should put it on my to-watch list. I'm no plastic surgeon but "Drive nice cars and live respectable lives" sounds good to me! Although I'm too cheap to actually go out and buy a nice car...]
Why your specialty?
I sort of fell into radiology. My first inclination was plastic surgery (see above). However, I rotated through plastic surgery early on and came to the conclusion it wasn’t for me. The hours were atrocious (I remember being given the choice to stay for a case that started at 10 pm vs. going home. I went home). The plastic surgery residents seemed to have an endless supply of energy and ability to work 24/7. I just couldn’t keep up.
Looking back though I was probably too young to really understand the field of surgery (I was 23 at the time). I simply wrote it off because of what I thought was a bad experience.
Internal Medicine was never something I wanted to pursue. I also had difficulty (at the time) interacting with young babies and pregnant women, taking Pediatrics and OB/GYN off the table. I thought I enjoyed dermatology but came to realize it was mostly a string of short clinic-based patient interactions. Anesthesia I did not care for.
People were always telling me my personality was that of a radiologist. I rotated in IR and saw it as surgery-esque, figuring I could always pursue IR within radiology later on. Radiology was competitive (at the time) but I had good board scores and felt fairly certain I would match.
I scrubbed into a port my first day of IR rotation in 2013 and knew right then IR was the field for me.
[FPMD: We took different roads but both Dr. Gaur and I arrived in IR. I have to agree with the assessment of plastic surgery. Going into my first plastic surgery rotation, I had no idea how crazy that life would be. I thought it was going to be all boob jobs and face lifts... until I scrubbed into my first case of course.]
When and why did you start your vlog?
I started radiology residency at Stony Brook in July of 2012. For the first 6 months I left work every day feeling like a complete failure as I felt I had no grasp of what radiology was. It was strange because I had always excelled in school previously. Desperate, I turned to the internet for help. found Youtube to be an excellent source of information.
Finally after starting call my second year in 2013, I started to “get” radiology and could “read” images. I remembered back to my student days, watching residents and attendings interpret abdominal CTs. I was absolutely clueless as to what they were looking at and in what order. Finally, I now knew how to interpret a CT Abdominal/Pelvis and wanted to share the goods. I looked on Youtube and the content didn’t exist. So I made it my mission to create it.
I downloaded a free trial of “Camtasia Studio” and in early 2014, screen-recorded a video of myself interpreting a normal CT of the abdomen pelvis. I posted it immediately and for many days received zero views. I thought constantly about deleting it. But I was too chicken to do so. Then 6 months later, I received an email from a resident in Poland telling me how great my video was. That spurred me on. I started taking ideas from my day to day and pushing it into newer and more interesting content. Well I have not stopped since.
[FPMD: I have personally watched many of Sarel's videos, some over and over again. And I can only but agree with the Polish resident. Last time I checked, Sarel's got over 7,800 subscribers to his YouTube channel and his video How to place a Portacath (Mediport Insertion) has been viewed over 168,000 times!]
What is the biggest challenge running your vlog while being a doc at the same time? How do you deal with it?
Of course time. But often adequate time is there. It’s mostly laziness or self doubt I think. Often I have an idea and forget about it when I actually have free time to record. I use online note taking services (Evernote) to help. Work is busy but it’s a great source of ideas and content. If have to take a few days or weeks off my website because work is too busy, I am ok with it.
[FPMD: Sarel is being modest. Self doubt maybe, but I find it difficult to believe "lazy" can be an adequate descriptor for anyone who has gone thru an interventional radiology fellowship. Indeed, I've talked about how I'm taking a step back from blogging recently due to a number of reasons and neither laziness nor self doubt played any part in the decision. Keep up the great work Sarel!]
What are the top 3 life lessons you have for FPMD readers?
- One I would say pursue something you actually find interesting. I find invasive procedures fascinating as they never get old me, even if I’ve done a procedure 100 times already. So it pushes me to learn more about them and share them with others.
- Two is don’t worry so much what other people think. I use to think constantly about what other people may think about my website. I realized the internet is actually a big place and it takes time for ideas to disperse; you do have some relative anonymity. Now I’m more confident in my work and my videos are better. Everything evolves over time but the first step is to start. Like Nike says: just do it.
- Three is don’t be afraid of failure. I’ve made several mistakes going back to undergrad, medical school, residency. For example, had several blind spots in my search patterns pointed out to me in residency. Missed some major findings that were thankfully picked up by the attending. Have had several procedures as a resident where I was in over my head. Even as a fellow, had several deficiencies in clinical management pointed out to me by my superiors. Every setback has made me stronger and made me that much better of a doctor. If you’re too afraid to make mistakes, it just ends up holding you back.
[FPMD: Agree with all 3 lessons and personally have benefited from all 3. #3 is very difficult to accept but in the end, any negative feedback is really constructive feedback packaged in crappy gift wrap. It's important to not take things personal and just look at the facts, which is still something I struggle with at times.]
Give me 3 vlog posts that FPMD readers can visit to get the “core” of what you stand for.
I couldn’t really say. I would say check out 2 of the more popular ones and my latest release to see what I’m up to now - https://www.youtube.com/user/sarelgaurMD/featured
[FPMD: May I also suggest the following video? Miami Vascular, Ferraris, and $$$: My Interview with Future Proof MD. Big thanks to Sarel Gaur MD for coming on as a guest. I will continue to follow Sarel's videos and I hope you will check out his YouTube channel whether or not you are a radiologist. Stay tuned for our next Future Proof Doc!]