As a chief resident at Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Urology, Isamu Tachibana, MD is looking forward to finishing his residency training in the spring of 2021. But like many other residents, he’s choosing to continue his training with a urologic oncology fellowship here at IU School of Medicine.
“I think the program here excels in oncology because of the large volume and wide referral base from all over Indiana and we even get international referrals,” Tachibana said. “I think I had early exposure to it at IU Health University Hospital and it was rewarding to take care of those patients, to see them in the clinic and manage their issues and then do their operation. I felt like those experiences were the most rewarding for me.”
Originally born in Japan, Tachibana grew up in Austin, Texas. He completed his undergraduate degree at Rice University in Houston and medical school at University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, then matched with IU School of Medicine for his urology residency. Tachibana knew he wanted to specialize in urology because of the surgical focus and ability to take care of a variety of patients.
“There are a lot of different operative techniques, whether it’s open surgery, robotic or endoscopic procedures,” Tachibana said. “You get to diagnose urologic conditions such as prostate or bladder cancer and then follow along with patients longitudinally and treat them with either surgery or medications.”
The urology residency program at IU School of Medicine is a five-year program that includes six months of general surgery training. Tachibana said in addition to the excellent training he’s received, his favorite part of residency has been building relationships with the other residents and faculty.
“A few weekends ago, several of us went golfing with Dr. Koch, the chair of the department. We spend a lot of time together outside of residency,” Tachibana said. “As you progress through residency, the staff begin to trust you and provide you with more autonomy.”
Tachibana will begin his urologic oncology fellowship in June 2021. University Hospital is one of the busiest hospitals for urologic cancer care, including complex procedures like retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND) for testicular cancer or high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for prostate cancer, a technique developed by IU School of Medicine Department of Urology faculty.
“They do hundreds of RPLNDs here each year,” Tachibana said. “These tumors can be difficult to take out sometimes, so being able to do so many of these procedures just makes you really comfortable in tough situations.”
Tachibana said he’s excited to carry on his training in complex urologic oncology care while also continuing to develop strong relationships with faculty, staff, residents and other fellows.
“It’s a very good relationship with the staff that I’ve been able to build up over time, which I think is a big advantage to staying here,” Tachibana said. “They’re very willing to teach me and answer my questions. They really take you under their wing and try to develop you as a surgeon here.”