While not his initial plan as he graduated Kenyon College prepared for a career in the Classics, Dr. Graham Mitro has discovered that Neurology is the perfect fit and a rewarding career. He enjoys helping patients regain some control over their bodies, and outside of work hours he spends time exploring Nashville and spending time outdoors. Perhaps in a few years you’ll spot Dr. Mitro at a local farmer’s market, as he recently started learning the art of making preserves and culinary fermentation.
Tell us a little about your background prior to arriving at Vanderbilt.
I grew up in Cincinnati. I went to Kenyon College for undergrad, which is a really small liberal arts school. I then went to the University of Toledo for medical school, so you could say I’ve hit all different corners of Ohio. In undergrad, I did one semester of science courses as a freshman, then I did no additional science after that. I started out pre-med, but then decided against it. I ended up majoring in Ancient Greek and Latin. As a senior I considered getting a Ph.D. and being a classics professor.
I completed a quarter of course work at the University of Cincinnati [after graduating from Kenyon], then decided to go ahead and try pre-med course work. So I did all of my pre-med course work at UC, and also worked in a lab there until I started medical school.
What first interested you in neurology?
I started medical school with the intent of doing pediatric orthopedics. I spent the first three years of med school preparing for a surgery career; then when I actually did that rotation I realized I preferred treating patients in other settings. Neurology had really been my favorite rotation. They are actually similar fields; in neurology you can find people who have lost their bodies in some way or another (for example, losing control over movements in Parkinson’s disease), and give their lives back to them in some respect.
What have been some of the highlights of your residency so far?
I have definitely made a lot of good friends; I have enjoyed the people I work with and the city of Nashville. It’s been rewarding to see myself grow as a person and as a physician and to look back and see how much I’ve progressed and how much skill and knowledge I’ve gained. I can look back and see people I’ve really helped. I have clinic patients who profusely thank me because I’ve changed their lives. Even though I see dozens of patients a day, for each of them it can be really life changing, and that’s really rewarding.
What about the challenges?
It’s tough to put one’s life on “pause” for four-plus years. After years of college and med school and now residency, I still feel like I’m living a post-college, not-fully-adult life.
Are there things about the future of neurology that excite you?
I think there is a lot about how the brain and the nervous system work that we don’t yet comprehend. There are certain things we know happen but for which we don’t have a good explanation or treatment yet. There’s been a lot of progress in the last decade in which conditions that were once considered untreatable are now able to be managed. So I’m excited to see what the next decade brings in terms of furthering the human understanding of the nervous system.
What are your plans for the future post-residency?
My current plan is to not do a fellowship, so I’m planning to look at neurohospitalist jobs to start in the summer of 2023.
How do you like to spend a weekend off? What are some of your favorite Nashville haunts?
I like trying new restaurants, or just sitting outside and reading. I like hiking or checking out bars with friends. I like East Nashville and Hillsboro Village in particular. I like watching the city grow and change even month by month, and seeing how the city has blossomed.
What does your morning routine look like?
My ideal morning routine is that I like to wake up with enough time to make coffee and work out briefly and just take in the day—think about what I have to do and try to get a couple things done. In reality, that doesn’t really work out. I’m just much more of a night owl. Realistically I get up about 40 minutes before I have to be at the hospital!
What are you reading/watching/listening to?
I like podcasts on interesting little stories, true crime, or comedy talk shows. I’m not reading anything for true pleasure right now. I do have a book I’m reading about making preserves and culinary fermentation. Unfortunately I don’t have enough space in my apartment to really get into that, but I’m interested in someday making preserves and doing a farmers market stand or something like that. I also enjoy cooking; it’s cathartic and relaxing after a long day.
Any travel dreams?
My ideal vacations for next year would be Iceland and hiking out West. I like outdoor destinations or places that have a lot of historical significance.
What advice would you give to a new incoming resident?
Overall, residency is tough but so are you. You can have an exciting life outside the hospital if you let yourself. Nashville is a great city, and you’ll meet great people. It’s good to take a breath and live the best part of life out to its fullest.