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Highlighting the Heroes: USF, University of Miami, and Tampa General All Should Be Proud of This Resident Nominee

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

Medelita Resident Options

Brandon Faza,BS,MBA, MD

Emergency Medicine, USF/Tampa General Hospital, Tampa, FL – Tampa, FL
Brandon attended medical school at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami, Florida. There are many memorable factors to being trained at UM, including exposure to a diverse and international patient population, rare cases, cutting-edge research and treatments, and world class mentors and colleagues. There is one memorable, unique factor that stands out to Brandon; he supplemented his clinical education with an MBA focused in healthcare administration and economics. One particular long-term course made available through UM and the MBA program was entitled “The Idea of the Hospital.” The course was designed to break down professional silos and promote communication through an interdisciplinary, teamwork-based approach to healthcare. This approach is unlike anything medical education has traditionally offered. It integrated professors and students from all different healthcare professions including nursing, physical therapy, pharmacy, law, medicine, healthcare administrators, and more. Brandon found it invaluable to learn how practitioners of various healthcare professions are taught to approach problems in widely different ways; this was exposed through classroom discussions. Understanding those differences helped Brandon to recognize how to promote interdisciplinary communication and cooperation within the hospital. It inspired him to always be mindful that the best patient care comes from an interdisciplinary approach. This experience at UM provided him with a framework to support one of his lifetime goals: to help physicians and their fellow healthcare professionals to better reach their potential to function interdependently as a team-based service industry. Brandon feels incredibly lucky and blessed to be training in Emergency Medicine at Tampa General Hospital through the University of South Florida; it is the perfect fit for him. Emergency Medicine (EM) tends to draw people who think quickly on their feet, perform well under pressure, and can balance doing many things at once, all of which describe Brandon. He loves being able to help trauma patients, having the knowledge to handle almost any clinical situation, and helping people through critical moments in their lives. Brandon was also attracted to EM because it will allow him to serve as full-time clinician, yet the shift-based schedule will also allow him time to spend time with additional leadership ventures, family, hobbies, and volunteer opportunities. EM is the perfect medical specialty for both his personality and for supporting his professional goals. Another reason Brandon feels blessed to be a part of his residency program is because of the people he gets to work with. He feels that his attendings and fellow EM residents, the professional staff of TGH, and the healthcare team at the University of South Florida are some of the best colleagues anyone could ask for. His program has a family-like atmosphere, with attending physicians who are deeply committed to teaching and supporting residents in training. He loves being close to USF, and to say he is an avid fan of USF sports would be an understatement. While in college, he started an organization of students dedicated to painting their bodies in USF school colors while attending sporting events (the Beef Studs!). The organization grew from 3 members to over 300 members and has endured to become a big tradition at USF. He also remains an active lifelong member of the Kosove Society, a group of USF alumni dedicated to community service, leadership, and mentoring the next generation of student leaders. Finally, Brandon was originally raised in Tampa and feels fortunate to be in close proximity to family, and knows that here is no specialty, program, or hospital that would make Brandon happier than where he is! Brandon wants to serve others and to lead, and he always says that there’s no better place for him to serve others than in medicine. He believes in people; he believes in empowering them to be healthy and happy, and in serving as a catalyst for the growth and success of others. Medicine is a profession which requires a great deal of responsibility and personal dedication. On a larger scale, it is an industry which is in need of leaders who are trustees of its important core values. Its leaders must be capable of guiding the industry through a rapidly changing environment of technology, advancements, and politics. Brandon has always had a naturally positive, transformational leadership style. He has sought ways to hone his leadership abilities along his path through both formal education and experience, so that he could be prepared to be called upon to someday to make a difference. He also strives to be a philanthropist. He hopes someday to start or to help lead a large non-profit organization like Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health or the Clinton Foundation. He wishes to direct his efforts towards everlasting good for others. These were some of the many reasons Brandon chose to dedicate himself to medicine, but the incident that had the greatest impact on him actually occurred while he was in medical school. It inspired him to redouble his efforts and commitment. He had a patient who was brought into the hospital in cardiac arrest for a very prolonged period of time. Incredibly, his heart was restarted in the trauma bay during resuscitation. Unfortunately, as labs and imaging results trickled in, the medications supporting his patient’s blood pressure were given in maximum amounts but to diminishing effect. It became clear to Brandon that the patient would not survive. Though dripping with sweat from chest compressions and personally upset that nothing more could be done to save this man from dying, he volunteered to break the news to the patient’s wife in the waiting room. This woman had witnessed her husband passing out, called EMS, and started CPR herself. Brandon took careful pains to break the news in a manner that was as gentle and empathetic as it was candid. He guided the patient’s wife to her husband’s bedside for his final breaths, and Brandon prayed with her upon her husband’s passing. But the moment that made this the most memorable was when she said in the midst of her sobbing: “I just wish I could have done more to save him.” Brandon then said to her “truly, I couldn’t have even been able to restart his heart – after so much time had passed since it had stopped – unless you had given him such good CPR for all that time and had gotten him to the hospital as quickly as you did.” The woman stopped sobbing suddenly, and looked almost startled. Her expression changed to appear as though a great burden had been lifted. She responded “thank you, thank you. I cannot tell you what that means to me. I thought I’d surely failed him. I will be forever grateful to you for saying that.” This struck Brandon deeply as a reminder that serving as a physician comes with the privilege to intervene in times of others’ greatest needs. It comes with the responsibility not just to practice good clinical medicine, but to help patients and their loved ones to understand what is happening to them, and to guide them through decisions which could be extremely difficult to make. The power to connect with and positively impact others in this manner is one thing Brandon cherishes about his chosen field. Even when offered non-clinical job opportunities after finishing his MD/MBA program, he couldn’t be swayed from being compelled to participate in Emergency Medicine and serving others in this extraordinarily meaningful way.
Describing Brandon's sacrifices would be difficult to do without giving deference to the number and breadth of personal sacrifices that physicians in training make across the U.S. all the time. Becoming a physician is an extremely laborious, demanding, and personally taxing process. To that end, Brandon counts himself among the many who endure significant personal sacrifice to answer their calling. He comes from a humble background, and has had to shoulder nearly $500,000 in educational debt for the privilege of healing others and serving as a doctor. He jokes and says his loan interest alone is like buying a new car every 3 months, but he hasn’t even been able to buy new shoes in years. He has lived thriftily all of his life since he has been in school for nearly its entirety, even down to cutting his own hair to save money. You’ll often find him dressed in a USF shirt left over from college, since he hasn’t been able to make wardrobe additions since. His vehicle keeps begging for retirement with over 250,000 miles on it, but he has learned how to fix nearly any problem it can have – because nearly everything has gone wrong with it! This hasn’t stopped him from helping relatives and friends in times of need; he was always taught to be generous even if his resources are limited. His education was prolonged with supplemental coursework, an extra graduate degree (MBA), and a Transitional Year before beginning his residency in Emergency Medicine. These added further to his debt. No matter the cost in time and indebtedness, Brandon would not give up on his goal. His perseverance paid off and he landed in his dream Residency program in EM at TGH. In the process, he has served as a mentor to others who have had their own difficult roads, and has sought to encourage other aspiring physicians to persevere through significant obstacles. Brandon also speaks highly of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine for not just providing him with a world-class education, but for always going the extra mile to support him through his non-traditional path through medical education. This entailed finding extra sources of loan money for Brandon. One of Brandon’s future aspirations is to donate a significant portion of his income to support the next generation of students through their times of need. Brandon likes to quote an adage of one of his mentors, Mr. Frank Morsani, who says “we should spend the first third of our lives learning, the second third of our lives earning, and the final third of our lives giving.” Brandon frequently mentions his desire to make a significant, positive, lifelong impact on the medical profession. He doesn’t hide that he “dreams big” of changing the world. He gained some experience bridging the realms of business and medicine when he and a fellow MD/MBA student at University of Miami, Joel Salinas, started a business which won the Grand Prize for the 2010 Miami Entrepreneurship Competition. Their goal was to push the frontiers of technology and medicine, and to find ways to support patient care while keeping a patient-centered focus. He and Joel brainstormed their ideas for SynApps, LLC based on their experiences on the hospital wards while in medical school. They met with dozens of executives of multinational corporations to seek advice, to pitch their ideas, and to solicit feedback. Some products of SynApps were designed as tools for decision-making and communications for healthcare professionals. Others offered solutions for reducing waste and avoiding duplication of expensive testing. Finally, they proposed products which would give patients more ownership and access to their own health information. Brandon believes strongly that medicine is the ultimate service industry, and the ideas created for SynApps were aimed to empowering patients to understand how to be healthy and happy. Though the prospect of dedicating their time solely to SynApps enticed Brandon and Joel, they both wanted careers in clinical medicine too. They both decided to enter residency training and to suspend working on their ideas for SynApps. Though he will always seek to connect with patients directly as a clinician, Brandon will also always be committed to finding ways to empower the entire medical community to continually improve patient care.

Vote for Brandon here.

If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.