John Serfas, MD

Start Year
2019

Education and Training

College/University
Northwestern University

Medical School
Wake Forest University School of Medicine

Residency
Massachusetts General Hospital

Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship
Duke University


Fellow Perspective

Tell us briefly about your background before fellowship?
Prior to medical school, I lived in Los Angeles working as an actor in plays and independent films after majoring in Theater at Northwestern University.  When I eventually decided to pursue a career in medicine, I moved across the country to North Carolina, where I attended the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.  From there, I moved to Boston for my residency at Massachusetts General Hospital before coming back down south for fellowship.

What are your career plans in cardiology?
After my general fellowship, I plan on training in adult congenital cardiology with a focus on structural intervention in this patient population.  I hope to work at a large academic Adult Congenital center as an adult congenital physician and interventionalist. 

Why did you choose Duke for your fellowship training?
Duke offered the best combination of unparalleled research opportunities, outstanding clinical training, and exposure to excellent programs in all fields of cardiology, including adult congenital.  The DHP (Duke Heart Physicians) rotation and group is unique among cardiology programs and exposes all of our fellows to an abundance of congenital cardiology.

What advice might you offer residents looking at fellowship programs?
There’s a greater degree of variance among fellowship programs than there is among internal medicine programs.  For example, some programs have high-volume LVAD and heart transplant centers that will afford ample exposure to these very complex and unique patients, whereas some may not have transplant or VAD programs at all, but may have particular strength in another area of cardiology.  Do your homework and make sure that the programs you apply to have established track records and good mentors in your areas of interest – don’t just apply to all the “best” programs, or you could find yourself disappointed. 

Second, pay close attention to how programs help with the fellow-to-faculty transition.  Some programs, like Duke, offer a great degree of support and assistance throughout the research years and have a strong track record of graduating fellows on time who are ready to begin their careers in academia.  Others may take more of a “sink-or-swim” approach to the research years that leaves many fellows frustrated.  Ask upper-level fellows about this transition everywhere you interview. 

From your experience in fellowship, what have you learned about training at Duke?
There’s no better place to learn cardiology – the clinical work you do in the CCU, on the wards and in the cath, echo, and EP labs will prepare you to be an excellent clinician wherever you go, and there is no shortage of tremendous mentors and teachers in both the clinical and research realms.

How is your life in the Triangle area outside of work?
Durham is a hidden gem (although it’s becoming less and less hidden as time goes by!).  It’s affordable – most fellows own homes close to the hospital – and family friendly, but it also has a lot to offer beyond that.  The food scene is great here – there are so many great restaurants that two years in, I’ve still got a long list of new places to try – and the downtown area is vibrant and unique.  And if you like craft beer, you won’t be disappointed.