HumAnes of UCLA: Neil Shaw, MD

Introducing Neil Shaw, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology

Neil Shaw, MD in front of Public Market Center

First off, thank you so much for being part of our HumAnes of UCLA series. To start, where are you originally from? What brought you out to LA?

I am so happy to be interviewed for HumAnes of UCLA! I look forward to reading it each time, and it's a fantastic way to get to know others in our department, especially as someone new here. I have kind of been all over the country. I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, then did undergraduate and medical school in St. Louis, went to East Coast for residency in Boston, and then came out to LA for regional fellowship at Cedars and now to work here! My sister has lived in LA for quite a while, which is what prompted me to move out west.

Did you always want to do anesthesia, or did you consider other specialties in medical school?

Believe it or not, I was going to be an orthopedic surgeon. I had my away rotations booked and everything, but ultimately decided against Ortho. After exploring other specialties while simultaneously freaking out that I had to apply to residency in 3 months, I was able to snag the last open spot in an anesthesia elective, not knowing anything about it. I started that rotation and fell in love with the field and am so happy with my choice. Luckily, this was before anesthesia became crazy competitive like it is now.

What attracts you to the field of regional anesthesiology?

Neil Shaw, MD and colleagues at Holiday Social

Given my love for orthopedics, I enjoyed learning about the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, memorizing muscle function and innervation. When I discovered regional anesthesia in residency, it was the perfect combination of my interests in orthopedics and anesthesia. It also came with the joy of alleviating pain for patients and improving their overall perioperative experience!

What is your favorite nerve block and why?

Tough question! So many of them are satisfying to do, but I think my favorite is the supraclavicular block. I love the brachial plexus (such a nerd), and it's a reliable, efficient block. 

Where do you live in the city, and why did you choose it?

I just moved to Santa Monica and live four blocks away from the beach. It's the best! I love to walk outside and miss the walkability of the East Coast, so it's wonderful to walk along Main St. and check out the boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants. I figured I should live by the beach at least once in my life, too. 

Drs. Higgins and Shaw at dinner

What are your hobbies outside of work? What do you like to do for fun?

I like to walk and be outside, hang out with friends and family, try out new restaurants, work out, listen to music, read about personal finance and for pleasure. I'm getting more into cooking and baking now. I have cookbooks by Claire Saffitz and Alison Roman and like to watch their videos online. I also like to play recreational tennis, so if anyone wants to play, let me know! 

Did you do anything for the holidays? Any holiday traditions? 

My parents flew in, and I spent the holidays at my sister's house in the Valley. I used to go to NYC as a kid every Christmas to visit family, but now we do an annual Secret Santa and Facetime on Christmas morning to open gifts together. I got a beach umbrella canopy to use this summer!

What are you planning for your next vacation? 

Neil Shaw, MD standing next to Christmas Tree

No imminent vacation plans right now, but I try to go to Boston and Provincetown at least once a year. Can't beat Cape Cod in the summer—seagrass swaying in the wind and hydrangeas bursting with color, with oysters and a lobster roll in hand! Also hoping to get to Hawaii soon!

Any New Year’s resolutions? 

I am hoping to read more this year! Aiming for at least six books to start.