2021 Northeast Region House Staff Teacher of the Year
Dr. Apurva Trivedi has perfect role models for both teaching and medicine. His father is a chemistry professor teaching at Virginia Tech and his mother is a nephrologist. “When I was notified about receiving the teaching award, I looked back at my family,” he said. “My dad’s students loved him. He teaches so well, and my mom is so inspirational. She is why I wanted to go into medicine. So, I hope I have combined characteristics of my parents. I try to emulate them.”
Although Dr. Trivedi credits his parents, he brings his own individual experiences and point of view to both surgery and teaching. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he decided to put off medical school for a few years to work for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and later as a subcontractor to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He spent four years in Washington, D.C., learning the intricacies of federal reporting and safety requirements for biomedical research. “This experience was really important,” he said. “I learned how to work in a role with administrative duties and grew knowledgeable about FDA reporting and NIH processes for approving trials and safety measures. It actually helped me as a surgical resident with our own research projects here at Geisinger.”
After a few years and several promotions, Dr. Trivedi felt it was time to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. He went to the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) at Virginia Tech and is now completing his residency in general surgery at Geisinger. When he arrived for residency five years ago, he was well prepared for potential research roles, but his responsibilities as a teacher were new. However, his father and mother’s example and his own natural tendency to be a good listener served him well.
“When you are an intern there’s a lot to learn,” he said. “It’s like being thrown into a fire. You have your own obstacles and challenges and still, you have medical students asking questions. There’s a lot to balance. I tried to remember what was special about my favorite rotations as a student, and it was always that I had a good mentor. I took that to heart.” Dr. Trivedi said he decided to take a “team” approach, asking his medical students to research various topics for him. “I would say, ‘Let’s talk about what we just did. Let’s figure things out together. Let’s teach each other.’ Then, as I went up the chain, I discovered that everyone learns differently. With residents, some need more help in the operating room. Others need more time with clinical duties or even outside of work. Besides the varied learning styles, for me, the biggest thing was realizing that you don’t have to be harsh or rude to deliver criticism. You can do it positively. That may be why my learners believe I taught them well,” he said.
Although he is now headed to Toledo at Jobst Vascular Surgery for a two-year fellowship in vascular surgery, Dr. Trivedi said he will never forget his learning journey at Geisinger. “At Geisinger, you get to work with people from diverse backgrounds. Our system’s advantage is its diversity of surgeons and attendings. You get to learn many ways of surgical technique and patient management from them. Plus, there is a wide variety of pathology we see in the hospital. I have acquired a good set of tools to fill my tool belt. I am more than ready for what comes next.”