Dr. Christina Seo '97: A Top Doc, 'Barre' None
She wanted to be a ballerina as a tween, but ultimately swapped dancing for doctoring. It’s a decision that has brought Dr. Christina Seo ’97 great career satisfaction, as well as many peer accolades. Recently, the NJIT alum, who is a colorectal surgeon, was named a Top Doctor of the Year for 2017 by the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP). The honor is based on many factors, particularly her professional accomplishments, leadership abilities, community service and academic achievements.
A partner in the Barash-White, MD, PA medical practice in Englewood, N.J., Seo specializes in colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, anorectal disease and diverticulitis. She entered the health care field more than 12 years ago and has since honed her skills in performing colonoscopies, polyp and ulcer screenings, and minimally invasive colorectal surgery. She handles more than 500 cases annually.
Journey to the OR
Seo once dreamed of becoming a professional ballet dancer, but left her pirouetting days behind her when she was 13, opting to follow in her parents’ footsteps in the medical field — her father is a nuclear medicine physician and her mother a geriatric nurse practitioner. “I think my parents were nervous that I would want to pursue ballet seriously, so they decided to have me stop classes. I had started high school and it would have been hard to keep up with that rigorous schedule, so I agreed,” she recalled. “Plus, it was always their dream that I go into medicine. Fortunately, that lined up with my own inclinations anyway. Looking back, I don’t think I would have gotten very far in a career in ballet!”
After high school, Seo was accepted into a seven-year combined program between NJIT and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–New Jersey Medical School (now Rutgers New Jersey Medical School). An Albert Dorman Honors College student, she earned both a B.S. in biomedical engineering and, with her AP credits, an M.S. in management from NJIT before receiving her medical degree in 2001. She completed a general surgery residency at the University of Rochester, became board certified in colon and rectal surgery, and began as a staff physician at Cleveland Clinic Florida. Three and a half years later, she joined Barash-White.
“I decided the world of academia was not for me, so I gave private practice a shot,” she said of moving on to Barash-White. “I loved it and have not looked back!
“I hope that I continue [to have] a busy career in colorectal surgery, using all the possible technology available…to make my patients’ surgery and recovery as smooth as possible,” added Seo, noting the increasing emphasis in her field on minimally invasive surgery, from laparoscopic to robotic procedures.
Seo, who calls the IAOTP distinction “very humbling and gratifying,” also has been cited as a Worldwide Who’s Who Professional of the Year in Health Care and an Elite Worldwide Professional and Professional of the Year in HealthCare by Worldwide Branding, among other commendations.
A Few Reflections
On Choosing Colorectal Surgery: “The colorectal surgeons in my program were good at what they did, loved what they did and could have normal active lives outside of work — I thought, that's for me! Plus, anyone who goes into colorectal surgery pretty much HAS to have a sense of humor.”
On Caring for Patients: “Taking care of patients who also work hard at their own health is always a fantastic interaction. Having a patient tell me that they feel better is always the best part of my day.”
On the Value of Her NJIT Degrees: “My studies at NJIT were a good foundation for my first two years of medical school, which are two years of intense lectures and labs. My combined years at undergraduate and medical school exposed me to many cultures and walks of life.”
Her Fondest Memory of NJIT: “Sitting out on the roof of the architecture school to watch spectacular sunsets.”