Every night at about 10:30, Alim Mitha eats breakfast. And while he doesn’t chow down on toast or cereal – often preferring a big plate of spaghetti – it is technically breakfast since it is his first meal of the day.
When you’re performing and assisting with two or three complex brain or spine surgeries a day, thinking about your next feast isn’t a priority. As chief neurosurgery resident at Foothills Hospital, Mitha is up at 4:30 a.m., at work by 5:30 a.m., starting rounds at 6:30 a.m., in the operating room by 8 a.m., then off to do more rounds and see more patients. But he’s not complaining. This soft-spoken, born-and-raised Calgarian is as passionate as they come about his chosen career. “I love it,” he says. “It really is a privilege to operate on the human brain.” Armed with a B.Sc. from the University of Michigan, a medical degree from the University of Alberta and a master’s degree from Harvard, Mitha plans to pursue a fellowship at the esteemed Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona after he finishes his residency in 2009.
That will add to an already impressive list of accomplishments. Mitha got his pilot’s license when he was just 17 and flies at least a couple of times a year. He has also published more than 40 articles about neurosurgery and written chapters in textbooks. “It’s almost like plumbing,” he says of his complex work, mimicking how he threads a catheter into the brain. “It’s about finding the abnormal connections.” A “glass half-full” kind of guy, Mitha jokes that there are advantages to his weird work schedule. “I always get clear, wide open roads and I never see any photo radar.” That, and he gets to eat spaghetti for breakfast.
University of Calgary
of Medical Students