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Resident, Diagnostic Radiology
Mayo ClinicVIEW PROFILE
Buffalo, New York, is famous for its annual snow accumulation. Native Christopher Czaplicki, M.D. (RD ’19), has found a love for warmer climates. He attended medical school in Los Angeles and will complete a residency at Mayo Clinic in Arizona this year followed by a fellowship. He plans to return to the Golden State to practice radiology. Dr. Czaplicki hasn’t completely abandoned snow and cold: he has punctuated his education and training with mountain-climbing adventures, often accompanied by volunteer work in underserved areas.
“The teaching here is incredible. I get to learn one-on-one from some of the greatest physicians in the world.”
I always knew I wanted to go into the sciences. In high school I did an externship at Veterans Hospital in Buffalo, New York, where I’m from. In college in Buffalo I worked all four years as a nursing aide. I could apply my science mindset to helping people. I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.
In medical school I thought I would become a cardiologist. Then during an OB/GYN rotation, a patient had an amniotic fluid embolism with massive hemorrhage. I thought she would die and lose the baby. An interventional radiologist came in and saved the day. It was my first exposure to that specialty, and my interest was triggered.
My now-wife got into grad school in California, so I went to medical school at Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She’s now a clinical psychologist in Scottsdale, Arizona, so I applied to Mayo Clinic in Arizona for my diagnostic radiology residency.
I was impressed by the resources. The program director was extremely charismatic. It was clear he cared about the residents. The diagnostic radiology residency in Arizona was brand new. There was an element of excitement of being in the first class as pioneers.
I see patients every day and do a lot of procedures including angiography, embolizations and biopsies. Mayo Clinic in Arizona has a big liver transplant practice. We see cirrhotic patients before and after transplant. We also do initial diagnoses for breast cancer patients and see them after they complete chemotherapy to evaluate their new scans. We interact with patients more than most people think we do.
The teaching here is incredible. I get to learn one-on-one from some of the greatest physicians in the world.
I will do a fellowship at Mayo Clinic after residency. I’ll spend half of the year in breast imaging and half in musculoskeletal imaging.
After fellowship, my wife and I will return to California. I would like to join a small to medium-sized practice at a community hospital and be a jack-of-all-trades radiologist. I worked at county hospitals in California, so I’m used to having fewer resources than are available at Mayo Clinic. In fact, it was a shock coming to Mayo and having so many resources.
My attending physicians are so well connected. Whenever I’ve mentioned wanting to interview somewhere, they have reached out to people they know there. Mayo Clinic truly is a door-opener.
My first exposure to international travel was during college when I took a two-week volunteer trip to a rural village in India. I stayed at a school for underprivileged children and helped teach classes. In medical school, I volunteered as a health care provider in India and Tanzania.
Last year I received a travel grant from the Mayo International Health Program to provide care for patients at Trbhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, for a month. Afterward, I climbed Mera Peak (21,247 feet) in the Himalayas.
I like challenging myself with new experiences where I can give back. Mayo Clinic patients come from all over the world, so cultural awareness is important. On trips such as these, you’re challenged daily by small things like finding clean water to drink. I’ve learned I can get by and be happy with less than what I have at home.
I’ve climbed many big mountains including Mount Shasta, Mount Kilimanjaro and Gran Paradiso. Mountain climbing is slow and tedious rather than high adrenaline. It’s about putting one foot in front of another. It’s similar to the long road to become a physician. I enjoy immersing myself in the environments where I travel.
I won’t undertake any international adventures during my fellowship. It will be my last year at Mayo, and I want to take advantage of every chance to learn from Mayo Clinic physicians.
Every decision we make is for the patient. Some institutions have that kind of mission statement on paper, but other driving factors render it ineffective. At Mayo, patient first means patient first.
Arizona has an incredible range of recreational opportunities. We like to get outdoors as much as we can. We hike, rock climb, kayak and ski. In the summer it’s just a short drive to a cooler location.
See past New Chapter stories here.