Lauren Poliakin says her father’s knowledge, experience and compassion as a physician inspire her in the way she cares for her patients.
Lauren Poliakin and her father Raymond, an OB-GYN, share more than a profession as Raymond delivered his daughter at the same hospital — Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, CA — where they both now practice.
Lauren, who finished her residency in bariatrics just last year, often seeks guidance from her father, who has been in practice for 37 years.
Raymond frequently made the weekend rounds at Los Robles with each of his four children. Lauren, his eldest, was the one who was most eager to be there.
“It’s great working with her,” he says. “Every day is like ‘bring your child to work day.’”
Drawn to medicine
When Raymond was in the second grade, he wrote an essay about wanting to be a pediatrician. His pediatrician lived just a few blocks away from his family’s home and during a house call, diagnosed Raymond with appendicitis. His surgery, which was performed at a teaching hospital, made a lasting impression on him.
“They were all very supportive, very understanding, and they were caring. That was something that probably influenced me,” he recalls.
Raymond continued to excel in the sciences, never straying from his medical pursuits. When it came time to determine his specialty, he considered several areas: pediatrics, nephrology, general surgery and dermatology. Finally, he found his calling in obstetrics and gynecology.
“I found it very exciting and very rewarding — both the emergencies and delivering babies. So even though I gave up my sleep, I found that it was the happiest profession for me,” he says.
Like her father, Lauren excelled in the sciences and in high school knew that she wanted to pursue a career in medicine. She initially thought she would focus on surgery, trauma and critical care. But in the third year of her surgery residency, she got the chance to work with a bariatric surgeon. That’s how she found her calling in bariatrics and obesity medicine.
“I love the anatomy of the esophagus, stomach and small bowel. And then the way that the surgery is done is very elegant, and I like that. I like that once you are able to master any of the bariatric surgeries, I think that you could do any type of surgery,” she says. “So, I liked that aspect, that knowing that these types of procedures are difficult, but once you’re able to master them, then you can feel confident with any other surgery.”
Her work is also rewarding because it often significantly improves the lives of her patients. Many tell her that their surgeries relieve back or knee pain they’ve endured for years and that they are able to be physically active with their families again.
“Most, if not all, of the patients are very happy after bariatric surgery because they get another chance at life,” she says. “A lot of people feel like they can’t have a second chance despite trying everything as far as diet, exercise and medications.”
I found it very exciting and very rewarding — both the emergencies and delivering babies. So even though I gave up my sleep, I found that it was the happiest profession for me.
— Dr. Raymond Poliakin
Lauren says the best advice her dad has ever given her is to do what makes her happy. He also told her to always believe in herself and trust her own instincts.
Raymond says he wanted his children to experience the same job satisfaction that has sustained him throughout his career. He tells them: “Make sure that whatever profession you do choose, make sure that you’re not working every day of your life: that you’re going to work, but you don’t feel like you worked that day — because that’s how I feel,” he says.
He enjoys helping Lauren perform surgeries and says she’s taught him new techniques.
“I am most proud of her when we are doing emergency surgeries that do not follow normal anatomy or present a unique surgical crossroad,” he says. “Her decision-making always leads her down the correct path.”
Lauren says her father’s calm demeanor during surgeries, his continual thirst for knowledge and his nurturing manner with patients inspire her.
“I liked seeing him speak with the patients and treat them. When I was younger, I didn’t really understand a lot that was going on, but I could see the patients’ facial expressions and when they were really happy — I liked the happiness part of it,” she recalls. “It was just a really positive atmosphere.”
Lauren trusts and respects her dad so much that she wants him to be her OB-GYN too.
“He is someone that I would let operate on me. And whenever I do end up having a baby, I want my dad to deliver the baby,” she says.
I liked seeing him speak with the patients and treat them. When I was younger, I didn’t really understand a lot that was going on, but I could see the patients’ facial expressions and when they were really happy.
— Dr. Lauren Poliakin