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Life After Bing

David Kashan ‘08: M.D. Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery Fellow

In our "Life After Bing" series, we bring you quick interviews with alumni who are leaders in their fields, trail-blazers. Find out how these alums got to be where they are now, and how Binghamton shaped their lives.

Meet alumnus Dr. David Kashan '08, who took some time to give students interested in medicine a realistic look at life as a surgeon. After shadowing his father and gaining little glimpses into the medical field at just eight years old, David realized this was something he wanted to do. Then he spent time as an EMT in his hometown which solidified his desire to continue on in medicine. Now he's a general surgeon and is completing a fellowship in plastic and reconstructive Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. He was recently involved in the care of a groundbreaking face transplant, which was covered for nearly a year in National Geographic. Read the blog, then check out the inspiring story!

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself, what you majored in at Binghamton and what you currently do now?

I was born and raised in Great Neck, N.Y. In high school and college, I was a volunteer EMT at my local firehouse. During my tenure at Binghamton University, I majored in human development. I went on to attend medical school, after which I completed my residency in general surgery at SUNY Downstate Medical Center with an emphasis on trauma, surgical oncology and minimally invasive robotic surgery. I am currently board-certified in general surgery and am completing a fellowship in plastic and reconstructive Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

2. When did you realize you wanted to go into this field?

My interest in the field of medicine emerged at a very young age. From the time that I was eight years old, I would eagerly shadow my father, an orthopedic hand surgeon, in his clinical encounters with patients in his private office and in the hospitals at which he practiced. This early exposure to the world in which my father operated, coupled with the time that I spent as an emergency medical technician as a member of my hometown’s fire department, motivated me to pursue this career.

3. Do you feel like Binghamton University prepared you for what you’re doing now?

Absolutely. Binghamton served as a springboard for me both academically and socially. Many connections and friendships that I have made along the way have proven invaluable throughout the course of my training. I have met fellow Binghamton alumni within the medical field who have been endlessly helpful, supportive and interested in connecting with other alumni.

4. What was the most impactful class you took at Binghamton University?

Bowling! It provided me with a platform to practice being mindful as I learned a new skillset. It gave me the opportunity to attend to and focus on the present moment for the duration of each class, and it was a valued time in the week that I could use to ground myself amidst the demands of my academic course load.

5. What are mistakes students make looking to enter into this field?

One mistake might be approaching the field with an overly romanticized lens of what it means to become a surgeon. It often means long, grueling hours in the operating room, requiring sustained attention, vigilance and stamina. Of course, it’s all worth it when you love what you do. For this reason, I would say that students considering the medical field should reflect on their personal goals and values – what they hope to add to the field, what they hope to make of it, etc. – as they embark on their own training trajectories. Doing your research, by using the resources that are available to you – e.g., alumni or family members – can help you appreciate a fuller, more realistic account of your field of interest.

6. Who would you say had the greatest influence on your career - teacher, colleague, boss, family member - and what did you learn from that person?

My parents have been a driving force in my pursuit of a career as a physician. They have encouraged me to approach each step in my training with vigor, passion and humility, and each patient with a renewed sense of responsibility and empathy. As the figure whose footsteps I followed as a child, my father has been my model for what kind of physician I would like to be.

7. Are there mistakes you’ve made during your career, and if so, what lessons have you learned from them?

Of course. I have learned to question the outcomes of each procedure that I perform, no matter how seemingly minor. I try to be open to the feedback of others, so that I can grow as a physician and engage as a lifelong learner. So central to the field is this iterative process of learning that the hospital community holds monthly meetings dedicated to just that: to review cases, evaluate what could have been improved upon, and consider whether clinical decisions that were made should be avoided or continued in the future. I aim to carry this same attitude into my daily life as well: to continually challenge myself to do better.

Carolyn Heefner is an advancement communications manager at Binghamton University. As a Binghamton native, she is passionate about the area and about the University. Have questions, comments or concerns about the blog? Email us at social@binghamton.edu.