New Faculty Q&A: Dr. Joshua Niforatos

Q&A with Joshua Niforatos, MD, MTS (he/him), assistant professor (CHS)

Hometown: Glendale Heights, Illinois

Educational background: I graduated with bachelor of arts degrees in ethnology and linguistics, and separately in biology, from the University of New Mexico and completed a Master of Theological Studies in philosophy, theology and ethics at Boston University School of Theology. I then completed my MD from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, where obtained special qualifications in biomedical research and co-founded a sustainable HIV and syphilis screening program at the University Hospital Cleveland Medical Center emergency department (ED). I did my emergency medicine residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, where I continued developing my skills in research, teaching and evidence-based medicine.

Do you have an area of clinical interest, and how did you get into it? My medical interests include health services research, implementation of evidence-based medicine and clinical guidelines, and on-shift resident education. In medical school, I became interested in critical appraisal of research, and eventually went on to study and publish in the area of meta-research. I believe that we should know why we are doing what we are doing, and whether there is evidence to support our practices.

From a research perspective, my interests have focused primarily on infectious disease, meta-research, and financial conflicts of interest. Going forward, I hope to look at drivers of low quality and high quality care in the emergency department (ED), as well as standardizing high quality care. I’m looking forward to diving into this work here at the UW Hospitals and Clinics!

How would you describe your work to a 5-year-old? People come to me when there’s something wrong with their body or no other doctor is available to take care of them. I get to tell them what’s not wrong with their body, and sometimes I figure out what’s going on. People sometimes come to me when they’re very sick or about to die, and I have the extraordinary privilege to often save that person’s life with the help of my team in the ED and all the other doctors in the hospital who come to help.

What attracted you to UW–Madison? The people and the location, as well as family in the area. My interview day was awesome and everyone was so friendly. The UW Department of Emergency Medicine also has a proven track record of supporting early career researchers, and that really excites me!

What are some things you’re exciting to do/visit/try as someone who is new to the Madison area? I’m excited to go to Dane County Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, visit Door County, attend a Packers football game, and try ice fishing/snowshoeing in the winter!

What’s one thing you hope trainees will learn from you and your work? I want trainees to become critical thinkers and not clinical pathway doctors. Clinical pathways are very important to standardized practice, but it’s equally important to know why we do what we do and what the evidence is to support it.

There is an art to medicine in navigating the sea of scholarly literature and newer, more robust research, and figuring out how this information applies to the patient in front of us. We then have the privilege to engage in shared-decision making with patients with the best information we have access to. It’s important for any clinician to remember that the reason to do something or NOT do something in medicine should always put what’s best for the patient first and never just perpetuating the status quo.

TLDR — I want my trainees to know the evidence for what we do and use it to make the most informed patient care decisions.

My first job: Cleaning pools and tennis courts

My most unusual job: In college, I made extra money fixing and restoring vintage fountain pens.

My hobbies and other interests outside of work: I collect and write with vintage fountain pens, primarily those made in the USA, as well as Japan, between the 1920s and 1970s. If you ever see me in the ED, I’ll have at least 1-2 vintage fountain pens with me and… yes, I write with them on shift! I also enjoy jogging, trying new restaurants, and spending time by the water. My wife and our new Welsh terrier puppy, Greta, are my partners in crime.

If you could have dinner with one person (passed, alive or fictional), who and at where would you make reservations? This is really tough! I would love to have dinner with C.S. Lewis or the 11th Doctor from “Doctor Who.” We would make reservations at The Eagle and Child in Oxford, England.