Hometown: Owings Mills, Maryland
Residency: Geisinger Medical Center
When he was growing up in Baltimore, Nelson Sofoluke, MD, loved computers. Delving into the mechanics behind what made a program run appealed to his curiosity, and he was delighted by the immediate responses when he tweaked a program. In fact, he was fairly certain he was going to have a career in computers — until his junior year at the University of Maryland, when he took a neuroscience course. That class sparked his deep fascination with the brain and the ways surgeons can revive lost function by fixing the brain or nervous system.
“When I began to think about medicine, I felt that I would be choosing to do all of the things I loved most — solving problems, thinking critically, being a detective,” he said. Since Dr. Sofoluke’s call to become a surgeon came late in his college career, he began to look for master’s degree programs where he could get the basic science prerequisites necessary to apply to medical school.
“The master of biomedical sciences program was my introduction to Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine,” he said. “I chose it because I liked the community — it was small and I felt at home there. The school was so integrated with the community that I instantly felt a part of it. One of my favorite events was the Alley Oop for Autism basketball tournament. All of my friends in the community came and played in it — it was open to everyone.”
Dr. Sofoluke also fondly recalls sharing small group discussions with Gino Mori, MD, a retired Scranton surgeon who decided to audit the first two years of medical school just for the intellectual stimulation. “In effect, he graduated with us,” Dr. Sofoluke said, adding that he admired Dr. Mori’s dedication to lifelong learning.
As a medical student interested in the highly competitive field of neurosurgery, Dr. Sofoluke said Geisinger Commonwealth’s longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC) in his third year gave him an important advantage. “Because of the block/LIC combination, I was in the operating room every week — straight block rotations wouldn’t have allowed that. I was able to have that repetition with the instruments and gained skill with my hands,” he said. “And I had very good teachers. That experience gave me confidence that helped a lot when I started residency.”
Now in his second year of a seven-year residency at Geisinger, Dr. Sofoluke says working in the OR has fulfilled his dreams. “Neurosurgery has very high rewards because the risk is so great,” he said. “When someone has a deficit, and the surgery fixes it and function returns, the reward you feel is amazing. But I also think of how wrong things can go, so when patients trust you to touch them despite that risk, it’s humbling. Sometimes it’s nerve-wracking, but it’s always humbling.”