Hometown: I am a citizen of the world.
Name of Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Integrative Biology, BA with Honors
Name of Professional Schools: Harvard Medical School; Harvard School of Public Health
Residency Program: Harvard Combined Plastic Surgery Residency Training Program – Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Paces Plastic Surgery – Fellowship in Aesthetic and Oculoplastic Surgery
Favorite Quote: “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible.” – Audrey Hepburn
Contact Info: Instagram – @drkpodzo
Twitter – @drkpodzo
Facebook – Dr. Dzifa S. Kpodzo
Morehouse Healthcare Plastic Surgery – Dzifa Kpodzo, MD, MPH
American Society of Plastic Surgeons Website – Dzifa Kpodzo, M.D.
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
I am a board-certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon and Assistant Professor at Morehouse School of Medicine. I fell in love with plastic surgery during my one week elective on the service during my general surgery rotation. I love that plastic surgeons work on every tissue type and on every part of the body from head to toe. In my field we have unique opportunities for shared decision-making with patients. In order to select the best surgical option for a patient, one must consider not only the technical options but also the patient’s goals and desires. I chose academic practice, specifically academic practice at Morehouse School of Medicine because it was important for me to teach students and residents who may be under-represented elsewhere. I also wanted to serve as an example of the breadth of what is possible in medicine even though female surgeons and surgeons of color are still under-represented in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery.
If you could go back and have a chat with your 1st year postgraduate self, what would you tell her?
I would tell her “you are enough”. Every day that you show up and give the very best to your patients is a successful day. I would also remind her that self-care is so important and spending those quality moments with oneself is not optional, rather it is essential for longevity.
What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to residency?
Apply broadly, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is one of the competitive residency training programs, so do not overly limit your options. Be honest with yourself regarding your board scores, academic performance and extra-curricular activities. If your application is not as strong as you would like, be sure to consider applying to general surgery as well. You should not disqualify yourself from pursuing your passion just because of test scores, but it is wise and mature to have an alternate plan in place as well.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
As a surgeon, especially as a plastic surgeon, I get to create art with the human body every day. That is a privilege that still amazes me every time that I stop to think about it. I love that my patients trust me with this most intimate gift.
How do you manage to balance your work life, family life and your romantic relationship?
This is a question that I myself have asked mentors and others many times. As I progress in my career, I am beginning to believe more and more that there is no “balance” but rather that you choose to be present in your work life or personal life at any given time. In order to maximize the rewards of both of these areas, I think that it is important to set boundaries. Making conscious decisions about small things like when you answer emails, how you allow people to contact you, protecting vacation time and knowing when to gracefully say no are essential to remaining healthy. Do not forget to schedule yourself, put the things that are important to you and to your self-care on your calendar; these are non-negotiable meetings. Do not be afraid to outsource, there are some tasks that are not worth it for you to spend your valuable time on; is it more important to spend time with your family or to say that you clean your own house?
Do you have any passions outside of treating patients? If so, what are they and how do you find time to pursue these passions?
I am a huge foodie!! When I am not tired I love to cook; when I am tired I love to enjoy someone else’s cooking. I grew up living all around the world, so travel is a very important part of my life. I enjoy doing projects around the house and knitting as part of my artistic outlet. I enjoy remaining active with gym workouts, yoga, spinning and hiking. Often the only way that I find time to pursue these things is by scheduling my playtime like a meeting and protecting that time accordingly.
In an alternate universe, what career do you think you would be in right now if healthcare wasn’t an option for you?
I would love to be the Dean of an institution of higher education.
Thank you so much for the taking the time to give us some insight into your career path Dr. Kpodzo! We really appreciate it, as well as the great advice you shared with us about choosing a career in Plastic Surgery and ensuring that we promote self-care in whatever career we choose to embark upon! Keep on doing the amazing work that do! We are all rooting for you and strive to be as successful as you are!
Posted on December 31st, 2018