In this episode, Dr. David Tom Cooke interviews Dr. Raja Flores, from Mount Sinai in New York City (NYC). With generous detail, Dr. Flores describes his “jagged line” to cardiothoracic surgery, while crediting luck and his supportive mom for much of his success. He shares how he “grew up poor” in NYC with neighborhood friends who turned to drugs and often ended up in jail. For Dr. Flores, though, personal experiences during repeated trips to the emergency room as a kid sparked his interest in medicine. He opens up about his passion for improving lung cancer survival—an area that has “a lot of room for improvement.” Dr. Flores explains that 80% of people living in NYC public housing are living with serious health hazards and exposures, but there is no “political activity” to improve the conditions. This reality fueled Dr. Flores’s motivation to launch a run for NYC mayor in 2021. “I wanted to bring awareness and effect change on a greater scale,” he shares. While unsuccessful, his campaign as “a son of New York City and mayor for all people” was organized and run by four medical students. Hear, too, what Dr. Flores says about the cardiothoracic surgery specialty “exploding” in years to come.
“Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks.