Dr. Michael Lawton’s First Class of Barrow Residents: Harrison Farber, MD
Twenty years after completing his neurosurgery residency at Barrow Neurological Institute, Dr. Michael Lawton has returned to succeed his former chairman, Dr. Robert Spetzler. He now oversees Barrow’s 28 neurosurgery residents—the largest neurosurgery residency program in the United States.
We spoke to the four first-year residents who will train under Dr. Lawton and the rest of the Barrow neurosurgery faculty for the next seven years. Below is a portion of our interview with Harrison Farber, MD.
Dr. Farber was born and raised in North Carolina. He earned his undergraduate degree from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and his medical degree from Duke University.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in neurosurgery?
“Neurosurgery appealed to me for several reasons. It’s very high acuity, patients are very sick, and a lot of times there’s opportunity to really make a significant difference in their lives. It’s also very interesting in pathology. The brain is one of the unknown frontiers of medicine, so that part is also very exciting.”
What do you hope to accomplish in your medical career?
“I want to become the best neurosurgeon I can and help as many people as possible. I hope to be part of innovation in neurosurgery and help advance the field. I think that was another thing that appealed to be me about neurosurgery is that it’s continually changing, and it’s a relatively young field so there’s a lot of opportunity for advancement.”
Why did you rank Barrow as your top choice for your residency?
“Early on in medical school when I was becoming interested in neurosurgery, Barrow had a really great reputation as sort of this coveted place with unparalleled training. The more serious I became about applying to a neurosurgery residency program, the more I started looking at it. Then I had the opportunity to interview here, and it met and exceeded all of my expectations in terms of the complexity of what happens here, what Dr. Spetzler built here, and the people he brought here. The camaraderie is really one of the best parts. I’ve seen that in my short time here with my co-residents and with the attending physicians who I’ve gotten to work with. Then there was the fact that Dr. Lawton was coming. I think he’s probably one of the few people who could take what Dr. Spetzler built and make it into something better.”
How do you feel about being in Dr. Lawton’s first class of residents here at Barrow and starting your residency in this new era for the institute?
“It’s pretty cool. We were joking about how it was his first day when it was our first day, too. It’s kind of a unique thing to get to say we’ll be his first graduating class in seven years. Hopefully the four of us will make him proud. I’m sure we will. We’re just looking forward to having the opportunity to advance in our training and one day become his chief residents, when we’ll really be working hand-in-hand and learning right from him.”
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