Meet the Doctor: Arjan Flora, MD
Arjan Flora, MD, is Director of Interventional Pulmonology at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. He sees patients in the Klein Building of Einstein Philadelphia on Old York Road in Philadelphia. He is board certified in interventional pulmonology, pulmonary medicine and internal medicine.
Dr. Flora is the Web Director for the Assembly on Thoracic Oncology of the American Thoracic Society and a member of the editorial board of the journal ATS Scholar. Before moving to Philadelphia in January 2021, he was president (and before that vice-president) of the Ohio Thoracic Society.
We spoke recently with Dr. Flora about his career, his interests, and pulmonology at Einstein Healthcare Network.
Q: Tell us about your medical education.
A: I attended medical school at St. George’s University in Grenada, West Indies, with clinical rotations throughout New York City. I then moved to Toledo, Ohio, for an internal medicine residency at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center. I stayed in the city and completed a fellowship in pulmonary critical care at the University of Toledo. Subsequently, I completed an interventional pulmonology fellowship at the University of Cincinnati, and I stayed on as a faculty member and became the Director of Interventional Pulmonology at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center.
Q: Why did you choose your specialty?
A: I originally wanted to be a thoracic surgeon while in medical school. Life directed me down the path of internal medicine. As a pulmonologist, I wanted to do more than just prescribe inhalers or guess at a diagnosis based on x-rays and CT scans. With interventional pulmonology, I can directly find an answer for a patient through advanced diagnostic procedures, and often provide a definitive treatment through advanced therapeutic procedures.
Q: What are your clinical interests?
A: My clinical interests include several types of procedures involving medical thoracoscopy, rigid bronchoscopy, and bronchoscopic lung volume reduction. I have research interests involving measurement of the effects of these procedures on patients’ lung function. I have also been working with engineers to develop new devices and equipment for interventional pulmonology.
Q: What drew you to Einstein?
A: I was drawn to Einstein when my former mentor in Cincinnati, Dr. Sadia Benzaquen, asked if I was interested in providing my unique set of skills and medical knowledge to the population in North Philadelphia. [Dr. Benzaquen is Chair of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine of the Einstein Healthcare Network.] Although there are interventional pulmonology programs affiliated with the large university-based academic centers in Philadelphia, the patient population surrounding Einstein remains underserved. This was a perfect opportunity to diminish healthcare disparities based on race and socioeconomics by bringing services directly to the community.
Q: Why should people choose Einstein for their pulmonary care?
A: We offer the availability of a relatively rare subspecialty right in the community, with a provider who came to the city specifically to provide these services to the community Einstein serves.
Q: How did the COVID-19 virus affect your daily work at Einstein?
A: I joined Einstein amid the pandemic. My first week on service at the hospital was in the Medical Intensive Care Unit. Philadelphia was significantly more affected by the virus than Cincinnati had been, and certainly it was eye opening to see how North Philadelphia and the surrounding area had been afflicted.
From the burden on the healthcare system to the burden on family members of the sick and dying, the pandemic has tested my mettle and given me more clarity as to why I came to Einstein.
Q: What are your interests outside of work?
A: I have a broad range of interests, from freshwater fishing to fossil hunting (I have a collection of fossils spanning 100 million years of pre-history).
I also enjoy visual film effects and music production, ranging from software production of hip hop/rap, reggae, reggaeton and EDM/dubstep to live instrumentation such as bluegrass mandolin.
I am currently designing and coding a World War II-based first-person shooter video game from scratch. I also spend a lot of time caring for, and playing with, my Corgi, Monty.
Q: Who would you be most interested in meeting?
A: Theodore Roosevelt. His life itself is an inspiration, exemplified by his “Man in the Arena” speech.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: Zulu (1964) or Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
A: I deployed with the Ohio Air National Guard for the state’s COVID pandemic response, Operation Steady Resolve. I was the chief medical officer for the Ohio State Defense Forces from 2019-2021, brigade surgeon for the Ohio Military Reserve, and senior medical officer of the brigade’s medical detachment.
I still remotely volunteer as a medical advisor to the State of Ohio. I am certified in advanced trauma life support and tactical emergency casualty care (TECC), and trained in the National Incident Management System and Incident Command System. I am currently a volunteer for the Montgomery County Medical Reserve Corps and Philadelphia County Medical Reserve Corps.
Learn more about treatment of lung disease at Einstein.