February 01, 2012

Linda Selwa, MD: Clinician, educator, baker

Linda Selwa, MD
What do you do at UMHS?

My work centers on optimizing clinical care in neurology and educating residents and fellows in neurology and epilepsy. I see patients, read EEG studies, and care for inpatients and epilepsy monitoring patients. In my administrative role, I focus on training six epilepsy fellows per year, improving the clinical side of the epilepsy program, and looking after the broader aspects of clinical care delivered in the department. My clinical research involves long-term cognition and quality of life issues in epilepsy.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Medical care for brain disorders has always been the most intrinsically fascinating part of medicine for me. I enjoy the long-term relationship with patients and am moved by their determination to live life in the best possible way. Working with epilepsy surgery patients allows me to see the brain at work. I have a passion for optimizing learning — I like to understand the basic neuroscience that may eventually transform how we educate. I believe that service to others is what ultimately generates the most life satisfaction for all of us.

When you’re not working, what do you do?

I love to cook and bake for my husband and daughter — one always has the instant gratification of happy faces at the dinner table. Music is important to me, as well. I sang with the Life Sciences Orchestra last year in Mahler’s second symphony and I play piano. I also enjoy volunteering time as a neurologist at the Hope Medical Clinic.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I tell my trainees ‘do more of what you truly enjoy.’ An important corollary is finding and increasing the enjoyment in things that need to be done. For me that always involves increasing the enjoyment of others. A teaching session can be dull and embarrassing, or affirming, invigorating and motivating. A sick patient visit can become a path to healing and deeper understanding.

What’s your favorite spot in Ann Arbor?

I have always felt very fortunate to have Hill Auditorium. The extraordinary acoustics, and the groups that come to take advantage of them, give us access to all the world’s music in a lovely setting.

What is something your colleagues don’t know about you?

I have just started harp lessons. I have always loved the combination of flute and harp music and my daughter and I could team up if I develop the skills. I have no idea whether I will have the brain plasticity to make anything like music, but I am determined to try.

What is your favorite destination outside Ann Arbor?

My favorite destination is the Swiss Alps. I love the languages and the culture, but most of all I love long climbs and walks in the mountains. My family can lose itself in the profound beauty and order of nature, but still stay within a few miles of a lovely dinner and comfortable room.