University of California San Francisco

Dr. Jade S. Hiramoto, M.D.

Interview with Jade Hiramoto M.D.

Interview with Dr. Jade Hiramoto performed by medical student and incoming vascular surgery resident Iris Liu. Dr. Hiramoto is a vascular surgeon and the current President of the UCSF Medical Staff.

What is one thing you know now that you wish you had known during training?

JSH: When I was in residency, I thought of it as this very defined time when you were going to learn everything you needed to know to be the surgeon that you were supposed to be. And I think that I should have realized that residency is just the beginning of this lifetime of training and learning. Looking back, I probably would have changed my perspective a little bit.

IHL: I imagine it would have been hard to know at the time, since it just wasn’t the culture then.

JSH: Right. At the time there were no duty hours. Like a lot of people then, I was just totally immersed in training. I missed out on a lot of really important events – milestone events, weddings, important celebrations – and I wish I knew that I didn’t have to miss out on those things. There’s time for it.

Who do you admire?

JSH: I admire a lot of people, many for different reasons, so I’ll tell you what traits I admire in people. I admire people who are honest and straightforward, those with integrity and committed to doing what they do – whatever it is – whether they are a surgeon, in the food industry, the arts.… A commitment to their work and their vision.

I also admire people who have a bigger vision, a greater vision, and are willing to take risks to get to that point. People who think big and think broadly and who have the ability to take these calculated risks to get there… I really admire that. You have to really believe in yourself. It’s a hard thing to do, to not only think transformatively, but to actually get there. That’s pretty cool.

If not surgery, then what?

JSH: To be honest, if I weren’t a surgeon, I’d still be a doctor. I’d still be in medicine. I’d probably still do something with my hands, something procedural. I’ve always been drawn to medicine. Ever since I was a kid, I don’t know why, it just seemed like a natural thing! I don’t have any physicians in the family, but for some reason ever since I was 5 or 6 years old I was always like, “Oh yeah, I think I’m going to be a doctor.”

IHL: Wow you really manifested your childhood dream! But what if you couldn’t be a doctor?

JSH: I’d probably be in some kind of a service industry. For the longest time when I was growing up, I wanted to own a restaurant. I wanted to feed people the food I grew up with— this combination of Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, American food. So, I always wanted to own a restaurant but realized it was too tough of a business and a labor of love. But I loved the food and the cooking and bringing everyone together.

IHL: I love it. And on that note….

What is your favorite drink?

JSH: I do love nice drinks…. For cocktails, I like a dry vodka martini or a Manhattan ­— those are probably my two go-to cocktails. I was also recently introduced to some great IPAs, and I have really enjoyed this branching out.  

IHL: What will you have on an average day after work?

JSH: Probably a glass of wine. I love all wine.

What are your hobbies outside of the hospital?

JSH: My number one hobby is traveling! I love different cultures, sites, food, people… My favorite place to travel is Italy – I enjoy the whole attitude and culture, and the food and the wine are also a big part of it. Maybe in 2021….

And I love running! Not just for the sake of feeling good and feeling this sense of freedom and getting a good workout in — I really enjoy the comradery we’ve developed with the people we run with. It’s therapy. You always feel better after a run – physically and mentally. It clears your mind.

Favorite quote? Or quote/mantra you live by?

JSH: It’s a quote from Frederick Douglass: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” I feel this is true in many aspects of life. Especially in this field, I think that if you don’t push yourself, if you don’t step out on that ledge and do these hard cases and feel a little uncomfortable, you just don’t grow as a surgeon.

I think everyone wants things on some level to be straightforward or well-defined, but I don’t think life is like that. And I think when you do struggle, test your limits, and get past something that makes you uncomfortable, you see things differently. You become a better, stronger, more interesting person.