Pediatric surgeon Avraham Schlager still remembers the anticipation he felt awaiting surgery as an 11-year-old boy at NYU Hospital. The day not only influenced his interest in pediatric surgery, but also introduced him to a surgeon who he would later work alongside as a resident surgeon 20 years later.
From his experience, Dr. Schlager knows no matter how big or small the surgery, the time he spends talking with a patient can leave a lasting impression. And, if history repeats itself, maybe even inspire the next generation of surgeons here at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Grew up in: Queens, NY
Family: Wife, Natalie, and 6-month-old daughter, Annaelle
Favorite childhood toy: Curious George stuffed animal
Name 1 thing you miss about being a kid? Playing outdoor sports
Favorite movie/book/TV show: Movie: The Usual Suspects. Book: The Winter of our Discontent. TV show: Game of Thrones
Favorite food: A burger… a Kosher burger… a pastrami, Kosher burger is the best.
Favorite music: Everything from James Taylor to Pearl Jam to Eminem and Linkin Park.
First concert: The Offspring
As a child, what did you want to be when you were grew up? I had surgery when I was 11 and after that I pretty much knew that’s want I wanted to be – a surgeon. Ironically, I met my surgeon again, 20 years later, when I was doing my residency at NYU Hospital. It was pretty neat to get to work with him and to have personally experienced being a patient there.
What was your first paying job? A waiter for a catering service company, but I probably ate more than I served.
Who do you most admire and why? My grandfather because he could navigate through any situation without getting flustered. He came to this country with nothing and even through adversity he always maintained empathy, sensitivity towards others. He’s incapable of making small things into a big deal.
Something most people don’t know about you: I love kite surfing. I spent 2 years in Israel for a research project and ended up falling in love with water sports while I was there. I was amazed at what some of the people could do – flipping and maneuvering through the water so gracefully. I managed to do a flip or two as well, but it wasn’t on purpose. Once I got the hang of it, though, I couldn’t get enough. I hope to get back into it.
Biggest fear: Losing my sense of purpose, not being able to make my day or future useful.
Something you’ve always wanted to do: I’ve always wanted to hang glide and travel to New Zealand. I think my wife will get behind a trip to New Zealand so that may happen. I’m not sure about the hang gliding.
Describe your ideal day: A little bit of everything, including work. I love my job. Ideally, my day would start off with family time in the morning, doing surgical or clinical care with my patients in the afternoon and then spending time with extended family in the evening over dinner.
Traits you value in a colleague: Honesty, directness, empathy and enthusiasm. When I find these traits in a friend they tend to stick. I’m still close with many of the friends I grew up with.
What’s your greatest indulgence? Hot tamales. I had to stop buying them because it was getting out of hand. Seriously. It was bad.
What is your greatest achievement? I’m not sure really. I think the best is yet to come.