Featured Member

Mike Scahill, MD, MBA

Diabetes, Pediatrics

Dr. Mike Scahill is a pediatrician and Medical Director with the Virta Clinic. He was raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and studied biochemistry and history at Boston College before getting his MD and MBA from Stanford. Dr. Scahill completed his residency locally at UCSF's Pediatric Leadership for the Underserved program. His formative experiences included working from the Dominican Republic through Kenya and Mozambique to India, which fostered an interest in global health and a passion for market based solutions to thorny problems of population health. These experiences led him to his current role with the Virta Clinic. 

Click here to view Dr. Scahill's practice information.

Why are you an SFMMS member?

SFMMS is an incredible community of colleagues. Nowhere else could I rub shoulders with such a talented and diverse group of clinicians. I learn something new at every Society event.

Which SFMMS member resource is most helpful to you?

Everything involving networking with other physicians, from the member directory to the various casual events.

What do you like to do when you're not at work?

While I have scaled back my competitive rugby, I still enjoying training under the illusion of being active as ever. My favorite interval running route leads from my apartment in the Richmond through Golden Gate Park, across Ocean Beach and up through Sutro Heights to Land’s End. It is such a beautiful setting that tourists from around the world come to visit, but I am lucky enough to have it a quick trot from my front door.

What is the most important thing you learned in medical school or residency?

I tried to learn to be humble. Many seemingly fundamental things that I was taught and believed with great conviction, from basic fluid management to general nutrition, were being called into question with rigorous evidence before I even finished residency. Medicine truly is a vocation to lifelong learning and endless exploration.

What are some of the biggest opportunities or challenges you see in health care within the next five years?

The burden of chronic diseases in an aging population is on course to overwhelm our health care system and ravage our public finances. I have not seen much evidence of the will or the courage to tackle that problem in Washington, so I think it is up to innovative clinicians to find the solutions.

What do you love most about practicing your medical specialty?

Despite training as a pediatrician, I spend more of my time these days on the reversal of type 2 diabetes in adults. The transformations some of our patients experience are absolutely wonderful to see. People who’ve suffered for years and never thought they would get off insulin can see their disease melt away, sometimes within weeks. I have one patient who came to us with such severe type 2 that he was on an insulin pump. A month later, he was nearly off insulin completely. It is especially meaningful to me as my grandfather died from diabetes complications just weeks before I graduated from medical school.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given throughout your career so far?

Two of my early neonatology mentors at Stanford were Bill Benitz and Lou Halamek. Among many other things, they really taught me always to be open minded and diligent in pursuing evidence for treatment decisions while also striving to be an interventional minimalist.

Who’s your favorite music artist/band?

I must have been 11 years old when my cousin bought Sonic Youth’s Washing Machine on vinyl. We listened to it together, somewhat furtively, on the record player in our grandmother’s basement. It was unlike anything I had ever heard before. To me, Sonic Youth embodied a vibe of New York City youth and artistry that I was way too young to understand but assumed must be the peak of cool.

What is your favorite restaurant in San Francisco?

Easy one! I adore Cassava on Balboa St in the Outer Richmond. The food is truly amazing, and the staff treat you like an honored family guest.

If you weren’t a physician, what profession would you like to try?

I get to do a little software engineering and data analytics with just a bit of deep learning and natural language processing in my current role. I am somewhere between decidedly amateur and totally clueless at it, but it is very interesting to learn. It is quite gratifying finally to get a piece of code to work after long labor, and it is intriguing to wonder if deep learning algorithms really are mimicking the way our brains learn.