By Subhas Gupta, MD, Chair, Department of Plastic Surgery, LLUSM
“Welcome to Dong’e!,” we all heard spoken in broken English. We had just completed a two-and-a-half-hour bumpy car drive following a three-hour train ride after a 13-hour flight to arrive in the Shandong Province of China in the town of Dong’e — a rural location ensconced in the myth of the medicinal properties of donkeys.
While the setting was remote, our hosts were extremely welcoming and receptive to us. I had just arrived in China with my two senior residents (Tyler Frew and Saba Motakef), along with my son, Shayle, to start our department’s fourth recent visit to China and our affiliated hospitals. Over the past decade, our department has been very active in international service and education with trips to Haiti, Malawi, and multiple locations in India and China. It has continued to be an important part of our educational program to have residents and students travel with the faculty on these trips.
Supporting the Loma Linda University Health mission internationally has been an important complement of our support of the mission locally on campus. Our interaction with the School of Medicine begins in the students’ freshman year when four to five students are selected via the MacPherson summer research program to work with our faculty. These students get their first real taste of plastic surgery as they investigate clinical questions in one of our centers of excellence, including breast reconstruction, craniofacial surgery, cosmetic surgery, hand surgery, pediatric plastic surgery, and trunk reconstruction.
Our medical student researchers have presented 47 abstracts of their research over the past five years at our regional, state, and national meetings and have served as co-authors on 14 manuscripts in plastic surgery journals. Students have also helped author funded grants and participated as student investigators in clinical trials of novel medical devices.
We additionally work with third-year students who rotate on our clinical service during their surgery clerkship. These students are exposed to the busy clinical team of our 12 integrated residents working with our full-time faculty at Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC). They spend time in craniofacial surgery with Mark Martin, MD, and Andrea Ray, MD. They also work with Michael Hill, MD, and Hahns Kim, MD, on breast reconstruction cases and with Asra Hashmi, MD, and me on hand surgery and other reconstructive cases.
Fourth-year medical students interested in plastic surgery as a career choice also spend one month sub-internships with us to increase their exposure to our specialty and to the faculty. We have also had a series of fourth-year students step out of their formal medical school curriculum to spend a year as research fellows to improve their competitiveness in the NRMP match for plastic surgery.
The educational offerings of our department extend beyond the medical school and our residency as we offer weekly CME-accredited conferences and grand rounds. Additionally, our faculty members have leadership roles in several national societies and their annual symposia, including the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the Plastic Surgery Research Council, the Wound Healing Society, the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, and the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons. We also organize and host the annual Thomas J. Zirkle Symposium as part of the Annual Postgraduate Convention during alumni weekend in March of each year, spotlighting advances and innovations in our field with internationally renowned faculty sharing the podium with our LLU faculty.
Clinically, our department continues to thrive with very busy practices at both LLUMC and the Riverside University Health System (formerly known as the Riverside County Hospital). Our outpatient clinics in Loma Linda and Riverside house ambulatory surgery facilities and have allowed for the development of a leading aesthetic surgery practice in our region.
Fortunately, the past, present, and future of our department are all bright, and we expect to continue to grow our educational offerings and our clinical practice over the next decade.
Dr. Gupta has been professor and chair of the department of plastic surgery for 16 years with a clinical practice focusing on complex aesthetic and reconstructive cases and a research lab highlighting his interest in advanced technologies and minimally invasive procedures.
PLASTIC SURGERY FACULTY SPOTLIGHTS:
Hahns Kim, MD
The ideal career for physicians is to find the medical sub-specialty for which they have a passion and to discover that they additionally have exquisite ability in that arena. Dr. Hahns Kim has found that at Loma Linda in the realm of breast cancer reconstruction. Dr. Kim joined the department of plastic surgery in 2010 and is currently an associate professor at the School of Medicine, where he directs the fourth-year student rotations in plastic surgery.
Dr. Kim grew up in the midwestern state of Ohio. The son of two physicians, he always dreamed of becoming a doctor himself. He attended Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, followed by Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he obtained his undergraduate degree in neuroscience. After a short stint in health care consulting in the Boston area, he obtained his medical degree at Boston University Medical School.
During his fourth year of medical school, Dr. Kim found his calling to enter the field of plastic surgery. He entered the independent pathway, completing a general surgery residency at Maricopa Integrated Health System in Phoenix, Arizona, followed by a plastic surgery fellowship at Mayo Clinic, Arizona. After finishing his training in 2010, he joined the faculty at Loma Linda University, where he practices general plastic surgery, including both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. He has a special interest and passion for breast reconstruction.
Outside of medicine, Dr. Kim enjoys spending time and traveling with his wife and two children.
Andrea Ray, MD
Plastic surgeons are often called the “doctor’s doctor” as we are often entrusted with the care of injuries of physicians and their family members. In our department, the “doctor’s doctor” is Dr. Andrea Ray, who is often called upon by other physicians.
Dr. Ray is an associate professor in the department of plastic surgery, where she has been a faculty member since 2003. She hails from New England, where she was born and raised in Connecticut. She completed her undergraduate degree at Smith College and then pursued her medical degree at Hahnemann University. It was during a rotation at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a medical student that she fell in love with cleft and craniofacial surgery.
After completing a general surgery residency at Yale, she did her plastic surgery training at the University of Virginia. Undeterred from pursuing her goal to become a craniofacial surgeon, she finished her fellowship in craniofacial surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Dr. Ray arrived at Loma Linda in 2003 to develop her practice in craniofacial surgery, including the separation of craniopagus twins in 2005. One of the appeals of the position here in Loma Linda was the opportunity to participate in mission trips to do cleft and craniofacial surgery around the world. She has been on trips to India, Ethiopia, Dominican Republic, and two trips to Israel to the West Bank and Gaza.
In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and gardening as well as performing in the YMCA circus with her daughter.