For pediatric neurologist, Ian Rossman, MD, PhD, there’s nothing quite as comforting as being greeted by a cold nose and wagging tail. While dogs are his constant companion at home, Dr. Rossman is the one who provides constant care — from diagnosis to treatment — to his patients with brain, spinal cord and nervous system neurological conditions at Akron Children’s NeuroDevelopmental Science Center.
Q: What celebrity do you look the most like or what sitcom character do you act the most like?
A: When I was younger, and had hair, people thought I looked like Adam Sandler. In fact, I was in Russia when the Adam Sandler movie Big Daddy just came out and I had a teenager come up to me and say, “You look like Big Papa.” Now that I have a shaved head, I probably look more like Mr. Clean, sans earing.
Q: If you could choose your age forever, what age would it be and why?
A: I’d say 22 years old. I was in the best shape of my life; I met my wife; and, I had finished my first year of medical school. I had almost endless energy and was blissfully unaware of how much harder my second year of medical school would be! I was at the very start of my medical career, which was super exciting, and I was newly in love. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 items would you bring with you and why?
A: My 3 juggling balls (that counts as 1 thing), a copy of Gabrielle Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and a military-grade, solar-powered satellite phone because, eventually, I’m going to need to get rescued. I have patients to see!
Q: What is the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
A: I make sure my 4 alarms are set and then I kiss my wife good night.
Q: My Monday morning must-have is______.
A: Coffee. More coffee. And more coffee.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Valley Stream, Long Island, NY (ages 0-12) and then East Brunswick, NY (ages 12-17).
Q: What did you want to be (profession) when you were little?
A: I wanted to be a marine biologist like Eugenie Clark, the Shark Lady.
Q: What couldn’t you live without?
A: Dogs. I have to have dogs in my life. They are free therapy and just make me feel complete and happy. There is something magical about coming home to a dog. I know it’s a cliché, but when I see the bumper sticker “Be the person your dog thinks you are,” I smile because it’s so true. No matter what kind of day it’s been, the moment you come home, you have blown your dog’s mind. And, in that moment, all the day’s greatest stressors melt away.
Q: Something you’ve always wanted to do and still want to do it?
A: Stand-up comedy. I think it would be terribly exciting and fun, assuming I’m any good. Otherwise, it might just be embarrassing!
Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Becoming a pediatric neurologist/neuroimmunologist. I started medical school at age 21, and I finished my training at 37. Along the way, I received a master’s degree, doctor of medicine, doctor of philosophy, completed 5 years of pediatric neurology residency/fellowship and 2 years of neuroimmunology fellowship. I went from an adolescent to an adult, met my wife, got a tattoo, started my family and am now entrusted with helping patients and their families through complex neurologic diseases. And, the best part is, I love what I do and I get to keep on learning as I work. Each day adds to that achievement so I feel very lucky.