Skip to main content

Q & A with Divya Sood

divya-sood.jpegThis month, we're saying goodbye many residents and fellows that have been with UC San Diego Surgery. We talked to graduated resident Dr. Divya Sood, who told us about why she came here, what she loved, her next steps and how she's come full circle.

Why did you choose to pursue your residency with UC San Diego Surgery?
One of the biggest factors for me was the sense I got from the people I met on my interview day. I didn't know that much about the program at UC San Diego before I got here, but there was an overwhelming vibe from everybody that I met — from the faculty and residents to the other people interviewing. I felt a sense of family that really encouraged me and made me feel like I wanted to come here.

What are your feelings as you complete your residency?
I have very mixed emotions. I'm excited to be moving on to the next steps in my career, but sad to be leaving UCSD. It's really become home over the last seven years and I'm sad to be leaving all the people here. Dr. Bryan Clary has always said that even though we're leaving physically, we're always part of the UCSD family, so I'm grateful for the opportunity to still be part of this community in the future.

What is one memorable patient story or research experience that will stick with you going forward?
Relatively early in my training, when I was a second year resident, there was a patient that we had operated on for cancer and although I wasn't in the operating room, I took care of her after. At the time of the surgery, they found that she had metastatic disease, so she was not able to have the planned operation. She got re-admitted to the hospital a few times and I kept seeing her. One night shift, I went to go visit her and I was lucky enough to somehow have a couple uninterrupted hours to spend with her. She remarked that she appreciated me and my positive attitude, and reminded me to do my best to keep that as I continued in this difficult career. She seemed to have come to terms with her illness. She passed away a couple days after our talk. I still try to heed her advice when things get challenging.

Who were the key mentors who shaped your experience and what thoughts would you like to share with them?
There are far, far too many to name, but I'll mention a few.

Dr. Andrew Lowy has been an incredible mentor for me throughout my residency, and continues to be now. He is a role model, not just because of his technical skills in the operating room, his clinical care of patients, or his impressive research, but even more so for how he communicates with patients and their families, and for his demeanor with colleagues, demonstrating the importance of leadership and problem-solving. These are things I try to emulate wherever I can.

Early in residency I recognized both Dr. Erik Owens and Dr. William Ardill as a sort of true north in terms of decision making. I could always trust their decisions and advice, both in terms of patient care and otherwise. And their support was always unwavering.

Dr. Jeanne Lee has always been a staunch defender of residents, whether we deserved it or not (often we didn't). She always had our backs.

And beyond the attendings there are so many of my resident colleagues who have provided mentorship, and continue to do so even after some of them have moved on from UCSD. I hope I've been able to do that for my co-residents as well.

What are your next steps?
First, it's taking my boards. But next, I start my fellowship in Surgical Oncology at the University of Chicago. I'm trying to take everything that I've learned at UC San Diego with me and turn it into hopefully a successful surgical oncology career.

Is there anything else you wanted to touch on about your time at UCSD?
This year, I've spent a lot of time on the other side of clinical care with my dad being a patient here at UC San Diego Health, seeing what we do from a very different perspective. I'm really grateful for the fact that he's received such compassionate care from everyone at UCSD Health, including from the Department of Surgery and my own co-residents and attendings. It is to some extent coming full circle. What attracted me to UCSD in the first place was that sense of family, and now in my final year here everyone has rallied around me and my family, just as a family would.