Ben Zorach, MD, Internal Medicine Resident (PGY2)

Ben (center, in green shirt and orange hat) with other internal medicine residents, “enjoying an evening at Carter Mountain last year.”

I was born in a small town called Williamstown in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. I eventually moved down to Delaware but went back north to Vermont after high school where I attended Middlebury College, majoring in geography. I applied to medical school–waiting tables in the interim–and ultimately attended Tufts University in Boston. I am now wrapping up my second year of residency here at UVA–time really does seem to fly!

Why medicine? Why UVA?

My father is a physician, although he was supportive of whatever career path I decided on in college. After a number of volunteer experiences abroad, I knew I wanted to pursue medicine. Deciding on a specialty was more challenging; but after a medical school rotation in a coronary care unit, I settled on internal medicine, with the goal of pursuing a fellowship in cardiology. With almost two years of residency under my belt, I’ve found internal medicine to be a good fit. I like the critical thinking it requires for complex diagnoses, along with dedication to evidence-based patient care and exposure to a wide range of clinical problems.

Why did you choose UVA? What opportunities do you have here?

UVA was the clear favorite when I was applying to residency. It was quite evident during my interview day that UVA has a one-of-a-kind culture. I was immediately welcomed by current residents and could tell that their passion for the program was genuine. Additionally, being from rural Massachusetts, I have always enjoyed the small town atmosphere and culture. I did get spoiled by everything Boston had to offer, but I found that Charlottesville has a perfect mix of easy living with the amenities of a larger city.

The subspecialty system here allows for greater mastery of complex conditions, and the opportunity to interact more closely with attendings in their fields. UVA also values positive change, in the program and the hospital more generally. I was recently selected to serve as co-president on the housestaff council, and I’m looking forward to serving in that role starting this summer.

I consider myself very lucky to have the opportunity to train here.

Proudest achievement outside the professional realm?

As a child in rural Massachusetts, there were few music teachers who were willing to take someone on as young as me. However, I was able to find a flute teacher willing to put up with my short attention span. I stuck with it and was able to play with talented individuals and perform at a high level.

What’s one thing you always have in your fridge?

Strangely enough, I would have to say milk. It’s an essential!

What are you usually doing in your spare time?

It depends on the season! Charlottesville has close proximity to a lot of outdoor activities. During warmer months, you can find me hiking and camping in Shenandoah National Park. When it is colder, I make frequent trips to Snowshoe in West Virginia, where I can get some good skiing in. When I am not feeling quite as ambitious, there are plenty of things to do here in Charlottesville. I love to catch up with friends at Fridays after Five, check out the sunset at Carter Mountain, or enjoy the many breweries in the area.

Where did you go on your last vacation?

An island in the British Virgin Islands, last February. Going there has been a tradition in my family for years. It’s always relaxing, and a great way to decompress. I am already looking forward to going back next year!

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

My great-grandparents were both artists. My great-grandfather (the source of my Lithuanian last name) did most of his work in sculpture, while my great-grandmother was a painter. While I wasn’t blessed with their artistic abilities, it would be amazing to learn how to sculpt (with painting as a close second).

Words to live by?

When I was little I played a lot of baseball. I would always be hard on myself when going up to bat. My mom discovered that cheering, “Just have fun out there!” made me relax and perform much better. I think that simple phrase is so applicable to all aspects of life – so often we get caught up in the moment and don’t take the time to enjoy what we are doing.

John Snow’s map of the 1854 cholera epidemic in London, showing clusters of cases.

What about you would surprise us?

I have a passion for maps (one of the many reasons why I majored in geography in college). If you happen to get me in this year’s secret santa, take note!

[Editor’s note: Upon inquiry, Ben said that one of his favorite maps is John Snow’s cholera map of London, which launched the field of epidemiology. Good choice!]

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