Staff Spotlight: Charuta Furey, MD
Job Title: Neurosurgery Resident
Hometown: Kingsville, TX
What inspired your career path?
I was seven years old when my mom was first diagnosed with brain cancer. I don’t remember the specifics of my mom’s initial diagnosis, or the treatment that followed, but I’ll never forgot how she looked at her neurosurgeons. I remember the attending diagramming the location of her glioma on our exam table to explain why she had started to talk funny, and I remember her exhausted neurosurgeon neatly shave her head before rounds so that she would be spared one of the rushed, haphazard haircuts provided in the pre-operative area. I’d only finished the third grade at the time, but her neurosurgical team made an unforgettable impression on me. They were competent and caring (and usually post-call), but they were our last line of defense. I wanted more than anything to be like them, to be someone entrusted to fight the illness that put people through their hardest times — and I still can’t believe I have the privilege of following in their, tough to fill, footsteps.
What made you want to do your residency at Barrow?
I rotated on the neurosurgical service at BNI as a medical student and fell in love with the culture and ethos of this place that’s now my second home. I was taken by not only the tireless pursuit of technical excellence in neurosurgery – the awake craniotomies and open aneurysm clippings – but also the diurnal side of the service – the depth of the neurosurgeon-patient interactions on the wards and unparalleled camaraderie of the staff.
What is your favorite part about your job?
The people that I get to work with every day, whether on the wards, in the operating room or at the lab bench.
What keeps you motivated when dealing with such complex issues?
I find neurosurgery exceptionally spiritually fulfilling and that’s what keeps me motivated. This job grants the privilege of amassing hard-earned, disciplined technical skill and knowledge to alleviate suffering or simply demystify a treatment course ahead. I can’t imagine a greater honor than that, to reassure and guide neurosurgical patients, cure their disease in the operating room, and when medicine and surgery provide no answers, work tirelessly to find them.
In your mind, what makes the Ivy Brain Tumor Center unique compared to other clinical trial programs?
The Ivy Brain Tumor Center is exceptionally unique in its innovative, patient-centered, Phase 0 drug discovery mechanism. While many other trial programs structure studies that take months or years to determine whether or not a therapy is efficacious, our center recognizes that our patients don’t have the luxury of time.
What’s the one question every patient asks and what is your response?
‘What would you do if this were your mother?’
As a resident, I’m often the first person to tell a patient that they have a brain tumor. It is a unique privilege to be there at the bedside in that moment. And it’s a difficult and delicate conversation that no one ever forgets. And inevitably, after we walk through the scans from overnight and what the next steps will be, nearly every patient asks me that question. What would I do if this were my mother? And where would we go?
It’s a blessing to be part of an institution like the Barrow and Ivy Brain Tumor Center because it makes my response quite simple. This is where I bring my family, and I can’t think of a better team of physicians, nurses or researchers to trust my loved ones and patients with.
What’s something unique about your role as a neurosurgery resident?
Although women make up half of all graduating medical students, we account for only six percent of practicing neurosurgeons. Each year, more female trainees join the field and there’s no doubt that our journeys are made easier by the trailblazers before us and the unwavering support of our mentors and colleagues. I was fortunate to have incredible mentors, both male and female, at Harvard College and Yale Medical School, who encouraged me to pursue academic neurosurgery. And here at the BNI, I feel privileged to work for a neurosurgeon-scientist like Dr. Nader Sanai, who has been incredibly invested in my clinical and scientific development, and is a stalwart supporter of women in science.