Wednesday, October 25, 2017
A conversation with Dr. Christopher Fisher '93
The nation and the world have been inspired by the actions of a true hero: Seton Hall University alumnus Dr. Christopher Fisher '93, Medical Director of Trauma Services at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. Dr. Fisher led the trauma team caring for more than 200 victims of the October 1 Las Vegas music festival shooting. Graduating Cum Laude with a B.S. in Biology in May 1993, he recently shared with Pirate Press his thoughts on his time at Seton Hall and beyond, advice for current students, and his observations around the tragedy and moving forward.
Pirate Press: Can you discuss your Seton Hall experience?
Dr. Christopher Fisher (CF): I'm very proud to have gone to Seton Hall. My college days are great fond memories. I came to Seton Hall in 1989. I grew up right in the area. I joined a fraternity my freshman year, Pi Kappa Phi, and I majored in biology.
I am Catholic, so Seton Hall felt very comfortable for me. I had a fantastic experience during my four years.
I had a Women's Guild Scholarship that helped me pay for school, for pre-med. Then in my junior year, I was an RA at Ora Manor, the off-campus apartments. I was not very good at that. I was pretty busy.
I did have a great time with my fraternity brothers. Twice we went on spring break with a group of about 20, and participating in Greek Week competitions, these were among my fondest memories.
My frat brothers are still my best friends to this day. Two, Ryan and Hector, were in my wedding and others came out to my wedding and come out here to Vegas to visit. I'm still pretty close to a lot of them. My wife, Misty, is a model who has travelled all over the world and her passion is really rescuing dogs. So in the last year she's rescued over 200 dogs and found them new homes. On August 8, my wife and I had our first baby. That's just been a huge blessing.
PP: How did attending Seton Hall help you on your career path?
CF: Seton Hall had a really strong science program and I had really good professors in the biology and chemistry departments. When I went to Seton Hall I knew that I was good in biology. That was what interested me and that's what I wanted to do. I wasn't sure whether I was going to be a physician or not. About half way through with some mentoring from the Seton Hall science department, that helped me make that decision. They were very supportive in me getting into medical school. It was such a great asset.
PP: Who were your favorite faculty?
CF: I was a big fan of Dr. Linda Hsu. She was just a great biology professor, very honest with a good sense of humor, just fantastic. Another one who sticks out in my mind was Father Gabriel Costa. He taught calculus and could write on a chalkboard faster than you could write in your notebook. I took his class with two of my fraternity brothers. It was a very difficult and challenging class. And of course, the late Dr. Paul Ander, (chemistry, health professions) was just such a nice guy and was a big influence. He helped me do research.
PP: Any advice to current Pirates?
CF: I would tell true Pirates that at Seton Hall you can get on any career path you want. Enjoy your time there and make the most of it. There's so much aside from book study that makes Seton Hall great – social activities, the Greek community, everything. You basically can get anywhere you want to go in your career from Seton Hall.
PP: Do you see a connection to servant leadership with what you are currently doing?
CF: Absolutely. It gave me a great base to succeed, to go and move on to other things. I felt prepared when I went to medical school. I felt that I had a good head on my shoulders by that time. I think the supportive nature of being at a Catholic university just really helps you sort of get your head on straight while you are there and is a nice comforting feeling while you are under the stress of being at college.
PP: Can you talk about your current job? How did it prepare you for that tragic night and how is everyone doing now?
CF: I think everyone is doing well. I think we all understand that this is part of a job that we sort of signed up for. We're taking a minute to get our heads wrapped around everything that's happened. We set up counseling for our residents who are here. But you know, I'm doing okay. Most of all, it was exhausting.
Among the hardest thing was that the families of the victims were the nicest people you'd ever want to meet. Your heart just goes out to them and what they have gone through.
I told our residents, "This probably will be most significant event of your medical career." And the fact that they know they've saved lives is something that they have to take with them and help them reconcile what happens.
Running the center is a lot of responsibility because you are ultimately the person responsible for quality care that goes to your patients that need trauma care. That carries a lot of stress and anxiety with it, but when your center comes up so big at a time of need it is also a great source of pride and joy that things went so well and people performed so well. The center and the hospital came together to help these people out the best they could.
PP: Did your Catholic roots help through a period like this?
CF: Absolutely. I go to Church fairly regularly and the following Sunday after it happened, I went to Church. That was a little emotional. I got a little choked up while I was there. But really it is a comfort for sure.
PP: Would you like to share any other thoughts?
CF: You know the only thing additionally was how proud I was of the Las Vegas community coming together. We had a lot of citizens just driving up in a line of cars and trucks to drop off food and water and pillows and blankets to the families that were there. Local businesses donated food and other services to the families. You look at the whole thing in retrospective. On the one hand, you had this one horrible sick selfish individual who did this. But on the other hand, I look at the thousands of people in the community that showed their best and helped out their fellow man and fellow citizen in this time of tragedy. That is what I try to take from it. There was one horrible person and on the other side you had thousands who showed how fantastic people can be and how fantastic is the Las Vegas community.