HumAnes of UCLA: Sergey Progushev, MD

Introducing Dr. Sergey Progushev, CA-3 Resident Physician

Sergey Progushev and wife

November 11, 2022

Note: This interview was conducted in November 2022, when Dr. Progushev was a CA-3. Dr. Progushev is in the UCLA DAPM Class of 2023.

Where are you originally from?
I was born in Samara, which is one of the major metropolitan port cities on the river Volga in central Russia. My family immigrated to Savannah, Georgia when I was 14, which is where I attended Benedictine Military Academy, a Catholic military high school. I graduated high school one month after turning 16, and afterwards worked to help my family acclimate and find financial foothold.

Where do you live now? 
My wife Jessica and I live in a vibey garden-like condo in Santa Monica. We particularly enjoy living here because of its walk/bike-ability, proximity to the beach, great food options, and our love for the micro-culture of Santa Monica. Jessica and I actually got married in May of this year, and we have just returned enjoyed from our honeymoon in Switzerland and Lake Como.

Do you speak any other languages?
Russian, of course! I had proficiency in French in earlier years, which has unfortunately faded.

Shadows of army soldiers

What inspired you to pick anesthesia?
My first exposure to anesthesia and critical care took place at the Regional Medical Center in Germany. At the time, I was a noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army escorting one of the soldiers back from Iraq, and we happened to stop at the Wounded Warrior project in Landstuhl. I seized the opportunity to shadow in the OR and ICU. Structured plans, systemic approach to care, and checklists seemed so familiar to military training it was almost impossible to resist my early infatuation with this field.  

Why did you pick UCLA?
During my away rotation I found UCLA to be my dream program. Everyone was very professional, caring, and understanding. Drs. Turner, Wolfe, and Shin particularly stimulated my educational experience. We truly have a high-quality intense learning experience, with a healthy culture and a good work-life balance.

Do you have any specific interests within anesthesia?
During the residency I find my days and nights spent with the sickest people to be most memorable and rewarding. My most challenging time was in the thick of COVID-19 pandemic, when I was given an opportunity to help out with the profoundly sick coronavirus patients on ECMO at Ronald Reagan CTICU. Our team’s knowledge and experience were tested by the pandemic, and once in a while vindicated with a successful recovery.

Any ideas regarding what you want to do after you graduate?
As you probably know by now, I will be staying at UCLA to complete a critical care fellowship.

What are your interests outside of work?
I enjoy taking care of my patio garden, traditional eastern European cuisine (my famous borscht!), trying new food and wine, and traveling.

What are you planning for your next vacation?
I have just returned from a UCLA mission trip to Guatemala, which was honestly a lot of work but highly rewarding. We spent so many hours in the OR of Hospital de la Familia performing 58 surgeries with 16 team members including three surgeons over a span of one week. We worked in a resource-poor environment with outdated and frequently malfunctioning equipment, 9 power outages (we continued operating), and came close to having a fire inside of the OR! I can say that these were some of the most challenging anesthetics I had to deliver. My next vacation will definitely be a more relaxing one with my lovely wife.

What is something about you that might surprise people?
Right before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was studying for a level 1 sommelier certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers. I imagine I will register and start again, but for now just enjoying the viticulture.