Fellow Spotlight: Sushil Lakhani, MD
For Sleep Fellow Sushil Lakhani, MD, a day’s work may include anything from completing a sleep study, to treating outpatients with insomnia or narcolepsy, to helping veterans properly use equipment to help with sleep apnea. In this week’s Spotlight interview, Lakhani talks to us about this work, his interest in the intersection between sleep medicine and stroke, and his loves of basketball, exercise, and trying new restaurants when not at Duke.
What are your responsibilities as a sleep fellow? What does a typical day for you look like?
As a sleep fellow, we are responsible for reading all the sleep studies completed at Duke Hospital and the VA. Between two fellows, we rotate between the two each month.
With the assistance of our attendings, who are great, we must validate the accuracy of the technical scoring of the study, and provide our interpretation. The studies mainly look for sleep apnea, but we do interpret multiple sleep latency tests as well which look for narcolepsy or idiopathic hypersomnia.
We also have outpatient clinic three times a week, which includes a variety of interesting sleep cases, from sleep apnea to insomnia, and narcolepsy to idiopathic hypersomnia to name a few.
While at the VA, we rotate through Lenox Baker one afternoon a week and assist with pediatric sleep patients. We also rotate with the VA psychology department in a sleep apnea compliance group to ensure out veterans understand and are properly using their CPAP machines.
How did you first get interested in neurology? How did you decide to specialize in sleep medicine?
My first interest in neurology peaked in medical school during one of my rotations. My mentor and I went to the ER to consult with a patient who had a complaint of weakness. After watching him complete a thorough 45-minute neurology exam, he was able to pinpoint a diagnosis prior to even ordering any tests. The idea of practicing medicine using cool tools (ie reflex hammer) and a good old exam to provide a diagnosis really sparked my interest in neurology. No other specialty goes through a in depth exam as neurologist, and we get to carry around tools!
How did you decide to come to Duke for your fellowship?
When I interviewed with the faculty here and learning about the program, I knew Duke would be my top choice. It included everything I was looking for, a challenging learning environment, great facilities and research opportunities that come with Duke, and a good work-life balance.
What's been the most valuable (or memorable) experience of your fellowship so far?
I really think the most valuable part of this fellowship are the mentors and my co-fellow, Damien Earl, MD. Interacting with them on a daily basis and learning new cases has been great. In addition, we are given a lot of autonomy to make decisions ourselves, all the whilst knowing that we have our attendings available any time of day.
What plans do you have for after you complete your fellowship?
Well my passion is really to advance the research between sleep apnea and its relationship to stroke. I have accepted a stroke fellowship at The Ohio State university Wexner Medical Center. I plan to incorporate both of these specialties in my practice, and hopefully be able to identify sleep apnea patients earlier and prevent first time strokes as well as be able to see my stroke patients in clinic and identify sleep apnea post stroke to prevent secondary infarcts from occurring.
What passions or hobbies do you have outside of Duke?
I love playing and watching sports, particularly basketball and football. I haven't played a lot lately but i am looking to get back into it this spring. I also love eating and exploring new restaurants around the city. I do enjoy exercising, currently I am doing the P90x series, I am three weeks in; I want to get back where I used to be prior to residency.
My fiance and I love the outdoors, picnics, hiking, going the beach. We still haven't checked out the beaches here, and they are definitely on the list before I leave in July.
And we definitely love dancing attending concerts.
Lakhani and girlfriend Tina enjoy a visit to New York City.
In this photo, Lakhani enjoys a visit to Chicago during the 4th of July.