Host Dr. Nathan Fox sits down with Dr. Michael Silverstein to talk about his journey from teaching Special Education in Queens to joining the full-time faculty at NYU and, finally, treating patients with Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates. Get to know Dr. Silverstein as he shares about his life and family plus thoughts on baseball, educating patients and students, music in medicine, and more.
“He Invented the Selfie!” – Meet Dr. Michael Silverstein
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From Teaching Special Ed to Teaching Medical Students
Dr. Silverstein spent ten years teaching special ed in Queens before deciding to go to medical school. As a special ed teacher, he taught a group of kids who had disabilities such as dyslexia at a private high school. This experience later informed his teaching style for medical students and the way he educates patients. “Special ed was all about breaking things into concrete, digestible matters,” such as using visual aids or videos to help students understand a subject. “That translated easily to medicine,” he explains. For example, Dr. Silverstein finds that explaining a medical condition using a metaphor helps students and patients better understand it, compared to textbooks which tend to explain medicine in “high-level, esoteric” ways.
Building Relationships with Patients
Dr. Silverstein explains that in his opinion, the relationship with the patient is the most important thing. He says that “I feel like I have several thousand friends,” referring to the many patients he has worked with over the years, and describes seeing patients for menopause care who he delivered years ago or treating daughters of previous patients. Dr. Silverstein also encourages patients to find the right fit by seeing other doctors at the practice, explaining that “we’re not carbon copies of each other.”
Music is just one way that Dr. Silverstein builds relationships with patients. He explains that he listens to music “pretty much 24/7” and likes to discuss which artists patients like and build playlists for their office visits or labor and delivery according to their tastes.
Inventing the Selfie
Dr. Fox speculates that Dr. Silverstein “invented the selfie,” explaining that 25-30 years ago, “Mike’s selfie stick was his right arm, and he would take that big Nikon camera and point it at you and him.” Photography has been a hobby for Dr. Silverstein since his teens or early twenties, when he began shooting on black and white film. He says that “digital photography saved me,” with the ability to take as many photos as you needed for free. “I really like capturing candid events and capturing people in their element,” he says, and Dr. Fox adds that he “basically photographs everything the practice does.” Dr. Silverstein says that when he was delivering patients, “the trifecta was I would play music during their labor, I would deliver the baby, then I would hand them my camera and they would take pictures of the baby.”