Faculty Spotlight

This week are excited to introduce Dr. Paul Novello, one of our very first neuro-hospitalists at Penn. Dr. Novello is fellowship trained in stroke but attends on both the inpatient stroke and general neurology ward services. Many residents are excited to have Dr. Novello pave the way for the future generation of neuro-hospitalists at Penn.


Dr. Novello – Tell us a bit about yourself!

I was originally born outside Philly and moved to New Hampshire right before high school.  I was originally planning to be an engineer, but transitioned to a business major. I worked at an internship in a large financial firm, but it didn’t sit well with me, so I decided to go into medicine.  I worked as a volunteer EMT and computer repair technician while trying to get into medical school, but only got to drive the ambulance twice.  I originally started at a Caribbean medical school, but was lucky enough to transfer into New York Medical College and graduated from there.  For residency, I went to Emory University in Atlanta, mainly because of the neurohospitalist program they were just implementing.  During my interview, the director of the neurohospitalist program gave the grand rounds presentation coincidentally, and discussed their plan for transitioning their program with neurohospitalists. This caused me to rank it high despite never living in the south and had a mild panic attack after the rank list was closed.  Regardless, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made and loved it there.  I learned a lot and was given a great amount of freedom to help make improvements for the program.  I went to Yale for stroke fellowship to gain a different perspective on the field and enjoyed the opportunities I received there.  The most interesting part of Yale was being able to witness their growth in the northeast and their utilization of telestroke.

What specialty are you in? What types of projects are you working on?

Atlanta is in the heart of the stroke belt and stroke codes were plentiful.  It was great to be involved with the earlier thrombectomy trials and experience the excitement of how well they worked.  The stroke codes were easily my favorite part of residency and meshed well with my aspirations to be a neurohospitalist.  I like the acuity of stroke and the opportunity to be able to change the course of the disease early on.  Currently, I’m working on updating the stroke code process at PAH to be on par with PPMC and HUP in terms of 24 hour window, CT perfusion abilities and improving interhospital transportation.

Where do you see the field of neuro-hospitalist going in the next coming years? Do you have advice for residents interested in being a neuro-hospitalist?

It’s so early in my career that it’s heard for me to say.  The neurohospitalist field will continue to grow.  I’ve seen at least one academic center use the neurohospitalist model to its advantage and I can definitely see that spreading at other academic centers.   There are many different types of models, and I recommend residents looking into each of those types of opportunities (academic centers, community hospitals, teleneurology).  If you’re interested in fellowships, try to look at job postings (AAN has a career center) for what are the more commonly requested fellowships.  These are typically stroke, critical care and epilepsy. They can add more value to the hospital typically as becoming a stroke director or reading EEGs.  However, you don’t have to limit yourself to these as I’ve seen some great neurohospitalists with a movement disorders fellowship or just straight out of residency.

Tell us about some of your favorite places in Philadelphia

Just getting used to the city, but I really like the area around Independence Hall and Society Hill.  Reading station terminal is great too.  It reminds me of a market that was a few blocks from one of the hospitals in Atlanta.  I’m looking forward to going to a Phillies game, as the last one I went to was when Veteran’s Stadium was still around

What advice do you have for residents in general

I’ll pass on my favorite pieces of advice I received as a resident.  Find some time to read at least 15 minutes a day.  Preferably neurology, but anything that keeps you learning. Always keep an open mind about patients.  Even if they have been told they’ve had pseudoseizures by the last 2 hospitals. Enjoy what you do and find ways to have fun with it. Answer your emails in a timely manner (I’m still working on this)

Thanks, Dr. Novello!

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