Kartik Agusala, MD
Just as I was about to join a hedge fund, I realized that my passion for science and the study of the natural world mixed with my desire to be in a service-oriented role was best suited for a career in medicine. I followed this leap of faith and went back to take my pre-medical requirements and enrolled at Baylor College of Medicine. The experiences of the last several years have only reaffirmed this choice.
Why did you choose cardiology as a specialty?
I enjoyed studying cardiovascular physiology early on in medical school. I appreciated and respected the systemic and mortal consequences of cardiovascular pathology. I was also amazed at how medical therapy and minimally invasive interventions have revolutionized our ability to prevent and treat disease, particularly within cardiology. My time in the CCU as a junior and senior resident was enthralling, intellectually demanding, emotionally engaging and ultimately, highly rewarding. I am currently applying for cardiology fellowships. I was exposed to medicine early on given that my dad is a cardiologist practicing in Houston. However, upon arriving at Penn for college, the Wharton business school’s strong presence on campus mixed with my own rebellious desire to differentiate myself from the doctors in my family led me to pursue finance. I graduated with a degree in finance and worked for two years as a mergers and acquisitions investment banker at Lehman Brothers in New York, but ended up following my true calling, internal medicine.
How do you achieve work-life balance as a resident?
For me, I think work-life balance and time management are skills that are still a work in progress. I value my personal time with friends and family very much and consequently, I try to be organized and efficient with my tasks both inside and outside the hospital. Given how little free time a resident has sometimes, I think it’s important to really fill that free time with activities and people that you find enjoyable and relaxing.
Did you win any awards prior to and during residency?
Though it seems like a prior lifetime, I was ranked in the top tier of the worldwide Investment Banking Division at Lehman Brothers during both of my years there and offered a promotion to become a 3rd year analyst. Here at Northwestern, I presented the right ventricle research that Dr. Sanjiv Shah and I have been working and won 1st place for research at the Illinois Chapter ACP Conference. I recently presented this research at the national ACP conference in Toronto and am excited to present at the American Society of Echocardiography conference this summer in San Diego. I was fortunate enough to be given a Goldberg Trust award, which will help fund these academic opportunities.
What are your current research interest and future career plans?
For my research projects, I worked mostly with Drs. Sanjiv Shah and Rod Passman. I couldn’t have asked for better mentors and academic role models. For these projects, I was exposed to the full life cycle of the research process, from formulating the clinical question to applying to the IRB to gathering, analyzing, writing up and presenting our data and findings. In a couple of years, I see myself as a cardiologist working in a large, academic center, primarily because of the energy and intellectual curiosity that is inherent in the academic world. I am not sure which particular subspecialty of cardiology I will pursue but currently enjoy imaging and electrophysiology from a clinical perspective and outcomes and health services from a research perspective.
Tell us more about your background and interests.
After a long workout lull during intern year, I recently started back up at the gym and have been running, swimming and playing basketball. I also enjoy movies, dining out, playing with my baby nephew, and most of all exploring new parts of Chicago with friends and family.
I was born in Hyderabad, India and moved to a suburb of Houston, Texas when I was a baby. My parents raised me with an emphasis on traditional Indian culture and values, particularly education, while I learned contemporary American culture through school and friends. I feel blessed to have grown up in this unique blend between two very distinct worlds, the experiences of which have allowed me to genuinely appreciate the wealth of opportunities available here in the United States and the incredible hardship and dedication that is required to successfully immigrate here as my parents did.