Since 2002, Dr. Verghese, a board-certified pulmonologist has helped residents of Central Virginia stay healthy and breathe easy. Since high school, he's known he wanted to combine his interest in science and helping people. Sticking close to his North Carolina roots, he attended Duke University, first as an engineering student and then transitioning into medicine.
When it came time to choose a specialty, Dr. Verghese landed on pulmonology – a field that treats diseases in the respiratory system. "I like pulmonology because it encompasses a little bit of everything – people of different ages, types of disease, a mixture of diagnostic methods and treatments, and both inpatient and outpatient care. I also have a lot of patients I take care of for a very long time. I like the relationship building aspect of that," explains Dr. Verghese.
After medical school, Dr. Verghese packed his bags and headed to California, where he worked for ten years. During that time, he also met his wife, and they now have a twelve-year-old daughter. Dr. Verghese first came to Virginia to run the Interstitial Lung Clinic at the University of Virginia. There he focused on disorders that cause progressive scarring of the lung tissue like pulmonary fibrosis. "We finally have better diagnostic testing, a better understanding of the diseases and their prognosis, and treatments that can change the course of the disease," says Dr. Verghese.
When asked for his best advice for maintaining lung health, Dr. Verghese has a very clear answer. "Not smoking is numbers, one, two, and three," he emphasizes. He credits exercise with being numbers four, five, and six, closely followed by getting a flu shot. "I think in general, not smoking, exercise, a good diet, weight control, and getting the flu shot are really the best preventative measures," he elaborates.
In 2013, Dr. Verghese joined the Augusta Health Pulmonology team – a seasoned group of doctors with over 60 years of combined experience in pulmonology and critical care. Pulmonology services at Augusta Health include treatment of a full spectrum of pulmonology issues and minimally invasive diagnostic testing that's unavailable in many other places. Dr. Verghese's alma mater, Duke University, also plays a role in his work now through a collaboration with the Cancer Center.
When reflecting on his time at Augusta Health, Dr. Verghese has this to say, "I worked in big hospital systems in big cities and have done research, clinical trials, and teaching. One of the things I like about being at August Health is that everyone knows everyone, the teamwork is outstanding, and the collaborations are better. I think it works to the benefit of the patients, and it certainly works to the benefit of the providers and the healthcare team."
Dr. Verghese credits perseverance as a cornerstone of his success. "I think it's important to continue learning and growing in my career. There are always going to be challenges, but I think the best way to approach them is by being curious, thoughtful, and persevering," he reflects. Dr. Verghese encourages people interested in the medical field to be open-minded to the variety of careers you can have in a healthcare system. "My best advice is to do it because you really love it," he notes.
When he's not at August Health, you can find Dr. Verghese spending time with his family – not always easy to accomplish since his wife is a busy dermatologist in the area. Recently, he's also been enjoying hiking, fishing, and biking in Shenandoah National Park. "I like living in a place that's not a big city but still has a lot of culture, entertainment, sports, and natural beauty," he explains.
Though Dr. Verghese has accomplished the obvious markers of success as a doctor, his answer when asked to define what success means to him is perhaps most telling of all. "I think the people that are the most successful, are the ones that find balance in their lives," he responds. It seems that Dr. Verghese has managed to find success in more ways than one.