By Darius A. Paduch, M.D., PhD
"Sexual medicine? Why can't you be the director of Cardiac Health?" - My mother.
Those were the words of shock and embarrassment I heard when I announced proudly that I had become a director of Sexual Health and Medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. I think many mothers would say something similar.
I don't think that many medical students ever dream of becoming sexual medicine specialists. I always wanted to be a pediatric transplantologist and spend my time in the operating room giving kids a new kidney and a new life. That's why I trained in urology: to be a transplantologist, not a sexologist. Life often plays jokes on us and things which we dismiss may actually be the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences: my specialty and participation in "NY Med" are the best examples of that.
I am not a "camera" person, so at first the experience of having cameras in the operating room was a bit stressful. But as a surgeon, once I have a scalpel in my hand, I focus all my attention on my patient, my residents and my students. Yes, I am a tough teacher, but I want my students to be better than me one day, so I am a perfectionist. It's great to be a part of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center as we have outstanding residents who learn but also help to achieve the best patient care.
To build men's confidence in their ability to have a fulfilling sexual life and bring intimacy into a couple's bed has had a powerful effect on me over my years of practice. One of my patients told me: "Doc, I wish I had the guts to see you ten years ago, but now that you helped me, I will talk to anybody you want to make it easier for other guys to come to see you." That conversation changed how I felt about having a camera in the operating room and about being a sexual medicine specialist; maybe I don't save lives but I do make a difference.
Darius A. Paduch, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor of Urology and Reproductive Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College. He received his medical degree from the Medical Academy of Lodz in Poland. He received his PhD from the Polish Academy of Sciences. He now appears on ABC's reality show "NY Med."