Name: Kevin Jubbal, MD
Specialty: Plastic Surgery
Education: University of California San Diego School of Medicine; University of California, Los Angeles
Areas of Expertise: Plastic Surgery
Current Position: Plastic Surgery at Loma Linda University
1. Why did you choose plastic surgery?
After realizing that the specialty which inspired me to enter medicine (gastroenterology) was not a good fit for me, I felt lost during my third year. I had hope that a surgical subspecialty would pique my interest. A close friend, knowing my personality and passions, suggested I take a look at plastic surgery. That first day in the operating room was exhilarating. I instantly fell in love. It felt like science fiction, and sometimes it still does. From cranial vault remodeling for craniosynostosis to microsurgical free flaps for breast cancer reconstruction to targeted muscle reinnervation for prostheses. The innovation, variety, and ability to make an immense impact in patient lives was captivating. The meticulous attention to detail was an excellent fit for my personality.
2. How do you prepare for your workday?
I am a creature of habit.
Before changing into scrubs, I do a 10 minute stretching and yoga routine that loosens muscles that have tightened overnight. This helps reduce aches and pains throughout the day and helps me maintain better posture, particularly when standing for prolonged periods in the OR or at my standing desk. Immediately after, I meditate for 5–15 minutes. I either perform a guided meditation using the free Insight Timer iOS app or set a timer on my phone and focus on my breath.
Breakfast is a must and generally consists of a calorie-dense smoothie. I blend plant-based protein powder, peanut butter, spinach, hemp seed, flax seed, almond milk, cocoa powder, banana, and frozen berries. I also take this time to pack a nourishing lunch for the day with plenty of snacks. Going hungry while you’re exhausted in clinic or the OR is never helpful.
Lastly, I ride my bike to work. It’s a great way to get cardio and cycling always puts a smile on my face, even if the sun isn’t out yet. Knowing that finding time to exercise would be difficult in residency, I decided that the premium in rent was worth the convenience of me being able to cycle to work.
3. What area of plastic surgery is changing most rapidly?
There are two areas of rapid change that come to mind: ethics and tissue regeneration. As immunotherapies improve allowing for hand and face transplants to become more commonplace, ethical considerations will grow increasingly challenging. How do we properly select recipient candidates? What exclusion criteria are necessary?
Tissue regeneration has received a great deal of attention in the past several years, with several reports exploring the promising potential of adipocyte-derived stem cells. More recently, however, advancements in tissue engineering and regeneration have generated tremendous excitement in the field of plastic surgery with far reaching implications.
4. If you weren’t a clinician what would you do?
Outside of clinical medicine, I am strongly drawn towards medical education and health technology innovation. I find the potential to positively impact future physicians through the optimization of learning incredibly exciting. More efficient and effective teaching methods not only improve the fund of knowledge in young physicians, but also allows them to lead more balanced and healthy lives themselves. Ultimately, both physicians and patients are better off.
Improving patient care through healthcare technology innovation is another exciting area of interest for similar reasons. As a physician, I can treat one patient at a time. However, by innovation in healthcare technologies, there is the potential to positively affect thousands or millions of patients. I have been fortunate to explore this area further through Blue LINC, a biomedical incubator at UC San Diego.
5. What is your favorite music (or song) to listen to in the OR?
90’s gangster rap or chillstep.
6. How did you start Med School Insiders and what do you hope others get out of it?
I enjoyed teaching and mentoring ever since I started a tutoring business in high school. As I got busier, I spent less time tutoring or mentoring in college and medical school. Med School Insiders grew as an channel to revisit that passion from a different angle. I realized that by creating educational YouTube videos, I could reach more students and make a larger impact than by speaking with students one-on-one.
My aim for Med School Insiders is to provide the highest quality information for students pursuing a career in medicine. We all learn a great deal about studying effectively and becoming masters of our time while pushed to the limit in medical school. Why can’t we impart these lessons to students earlier in their training? By empowering students to study smarter and become more effective individuals, everyone wins.
7. Who are your mentors?
Dr. Ahmed Suliman from UC San Diego inspired and mentored me as a medical student during the application process to residency. Drs. Anthony Echo, Daniel Chang, and Nikhil Agrawal helped me refine my research skills and define my career trajectory. Michael and Tonia Hsieh were instrumental in helping me imagine life beyond the confines of fear and to follow my dreams.
8. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Reality is created in your mind.”
This reminds me that our interpretations of the world will always fall short of describing what it truly is. A map portrays an environment, but by definition it never represents it with full accuracy, otherwise it would be the same as the environment. Our view of the world is the same. An optimistic person and a pessimistic person can both view the same event yet have wildly different interpretations. Some people consider themselves lucky and others consider themselves unlucky. What happens or doesn’t happen to me is less important than my mindset, perspective, and how I choose to deal with what comes my way.
9. What is the biggest challenge or obstacle in plastic surgery?
The challenges in plastic surgery are the same challenges facing all of medicine — more time spent on billing, documentation, and other needless bureaucratic sludge, and less time interacting with patients. I have seen several colleagues in plastic surgery feel pressured to move toward cash-based aesthetic practices to work around some of these issues.
Residency training is also broken. We need to shift the emphasis from using residents as cheap labor to rather placing a priority on resident education and optimizing patient care.
I’m surprised how frequently faxes are still required today, when emailing a scanned document should suffice. Doximity’s e-Fax service has alleviated the headache of faxing on multiple occasions.