Saraschandra Vallabhajosyula, MD, MSc, FACP, FCCP, FAHA, FACC, FCCM, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Assistant Professor of Implementation Science and an interventional and critical care cardiologist at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA. He joined the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) in 2014. He is the past chair of the In-Training Section Steering Committee and is currently a member of the Advanced Pharmacotherapy Course Committee and Graduate and Resident Education Committee.
You can find him reading, traveling, and enjoying cricket (both playing and watching) during his free time. His clinical interests include cardiovascular medicine, epidemiology, outcomes, and shock. In this member spotlight, learn more about what Dr. Vallabhajosyula sees as trends in critical care and his passion for the field.
Why do you love being in critical care?
The multispecialty nature of critical care medicine gives us the unique opportunity to work side by side with colleagues from different walks of life, such as internal medicine, anesthesia, emergency medicine, and surgery. We all share the common goal of caring for acute and critically ill patients, and each of us brings our specialized skill set and knowledge base. The sum is often greater than the parts.
How did you get into critical care?
As an internal medicine resident, I enjoyed working both in the critical care units and on the cardiovascular medicine service. Back then (2012-2013), cardiovascular critical care was in its infancy. The first scientific statement from the cardiovascular societies came out in 2012. That really piqued my interest, and I sought to combine the two. I have since trained in interventional cardiology and practice in the cardiac catheterization laboratory and the cardiac ICU caring for critically ill patients.
What advice do you have for those starting their critical care careers?
I would advise them to immerse themselves in multidisciplinary critical care. Often, we limit ourselves to a single ICU or similar types of ICUs, but displacing ourselves from our comfort zone (such as a medicine-trained physician working in a burn or trauma ICU) often teaches us lifelong lessons. It gives us great appreciation and empathy toward the holistic management of critically ill patients and makes us stronger as physicians.
What industry trends have you excited about the future?
The evolution of mechanical circulatory support devices, the miniaturization of these devices, and evolving data science are the most exciting aspects.
What do you see as the most challenging issue facing critical care?
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of preserving a strong and competent critical care workforce. The challenges of work-life balance, long hours, and high patient morbidity and mortality cause many intensivists to leave the ICU. Prevention of burnout and improvement in work environments remain two of the biggest challenges for intensive care as a specialty.
What is your biggest professional achievement?
My biggest achievement has been working with and learning from colleagues who have mentored me and then mentoring others in turn. Knowledge only multiplies when shared; therefore this cycle of teaching and learning, which I hold very sacred, provides me great gratification and excitement.
What are the top advances in critical care since you started your career?
In my field of cardiogenic shock, defining the role of culprit versus complete revascularization, defining the optimal vasoactive medication regimen, limiting the role of intra-aortic balloon pumps, and the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions shock classifications are the leading studies that have changed practice.
What do you love about SCCM membership?
SCCM membership allows me to work closely with multidisciplinary critical care colleagues across the nation. Critical care is a melting pot of multiple specialties such as cardiovascular medicine, pulmonary medicine, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, and trauma surgery. The diverse viewpoints help make these interactions with SCCM members and colleagues both fun and intellectually challenging.
Connect with @Saraschandra Vallabhajosyula on SCCM Connect or on Twitter at @SarasVallabhMD