HumAnes of UCLA: Mark Guirguis, MD

Introducing Dr. Mark Guirguis, PGY-1 Resident Physician

Mark Guirguis relaxing in a hammock

January 19, 2022

Note: This interview was conducted in January 2022, when Dr. Guirguis was a PGY-1. Dr. Guirguis is in the UCLA DAPM Class of 2025.

Where are you originally from?
I am Egyptian and Greek, but I was born and raised on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.

Where do you live now? Why did you pick it?
I live in near Ronald Reagan Hospital in Westwood. I wanted to be close enough to work that I could dodge (some of) the terrifying traffic in Los Angeles, and my complex had a hot tub, so it was a win-win.

How was the transition from medical student to intern?  What has been the hardest part and what has been the most rewarding?
I think the hardest part was just the volume of patients. Going from the second half of my fourth year of medical school (which was basically vacation) to starting in the medical ICU with nine patients was a bit of a challenge. I think my favorite part of intern year so far has been my two-week stint in the VA SICU where I got to spend the most amount of time with my anesthesia seniors (shout out to Sam Jiang, Nick Bacher, and Eric Van Baarsel). I also really enjoyed working with medical students because I remember how daunting it can be. It brings me back to my days as a 3rd-grade teacher in Hawaii. There is nothing better to see than someone having an “aha” moment right before your eyes.

Tell me more about this 3rd grade teaching experience!
During high school I volunteered through a Big Brother Big Sisters after-school program at Pope Elementary in Waimanalo (a historically underserved community with a large homeless population). I really enjoyed working with the kids and families in Waimanalo.

When I returned home to Hawaii after undergrad, I wanted to rebuild my connection with this community. I found an NGO called "Na Pono No Na Ohana" that focused on strengthening the entire family unit. Through them, I would spend my days working with the 3rd graders at Pope Elementary, followed by working with their parents to prepare them for the GED or learn vocational skills.  
With the help of my clerkship advisors, I was able to organize the outpatient portion  of my 3rd-year clerkships to rotate primarily at the Waimanalo Health Center (one mile from Pope Elementary). I worked with our Medical School's HOME (Homeless Outreach and Medical Education) program to help manage a monthly mobile clinic that we stationed on the Pope Elementary campus.

Mark Guirguis hiking

Wow, that is so awesome! Why did you pick UCLA to match last year?
It had everything I could ask for! A great reputation, complex patients, accomplished faculty, and all in an excellent location that was close to family and the ocean. It was also the group of residents that I enjoyed being with the most on my pre-interview social.

Why did you pick anesthesia? Do you have any specific interests within anesthesia?
I was actually fully expecting to apply into pediatrics until COVID hit. Then I started to read more about the physiology of acute hypoxic respiratory failure and ventilator mechanics. After that, I looked more seriously into anesthesia and was drawn in by the real-time decision making, the combination of cerebral thinking and becoming a specialist in a number of very technical procedural skills, and the realization that my favorite people in the hospital tend to be the anesthesia staff.

What are your interests outside of work?
Working out, cliff-diving, basketball, dad jokes, spike ball, bourbon, jazz music, cooking, and taking naps in my hammock.

Where are you planning for your next vacation?
Guirguis Gathering (i.e., family reunion) in Florida!  

What might people not know about you/might surprise people?

  1. Kawena (another CA-0) taught me how to surf.
  2. I’m 20 years older than my little sister.
  3. “Zero to Hero” from Hercules was my most played song this year on Spotify.