November 5, 2019
FROM POLICING TO A PASSION FOR HEALING HEARTS
ThedaCare Cardiothoracic Surgeon Brings Unique Background to Caring for Patients
APPLETON, Wis. – Most cardiovascular specialists cannot say they have a background in police work. ThedaCare’s very own cardiothoracic surgeon Salvior Mok, MD, can.
Before attending medical school, the now cardiothoracic surgeon worked for the Hong Kong Police Force. She started as an officer and then was quickly promoted to Platoon Commander and Women Inspector of Police.
“Hong Kong is fascinating, diverse and high speed everything,” Dr. Mok explained. “The Hong Kong Police Force was my first job out of college, and where I learned more about human behavior and managing people than detective work and arresting people.”
At the time, the early 2000s, she had friends who had joined the police force. She says the work sounded appealing and it paid well. And the end-goal for this Hong Kong native was to travel the world and explore different cultures with her hard-earned money.
She spent her teenage years in Vancouver and earned her bachelor’s degree in physiology from the University of British Columbia in Canada before moving back to Hong Kong. America, ultimately, was where she wanted to land and explore for an extended period. She saw being a physician as the best way to do it. Dr. Mok comes from a family of physicians and medical professionals. She also had friends who were attending medical school in the West Indies at that time. They encouraged her to join them there, so she found her way to America through the Caribbean. Dr. Mok earned her medical degree from St. George’s University in Grenada. She then arrived in the United States in 2007, completing her general surgery residency at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark.
“On my surgery rotation, I was mostly intrigued with the intricacies of the heart – its arteries, chambers and muscles, pumping blood and oxygen throughout the body,” Dr. Mok recalls. “As a surgeon, I found the heart’s complexities challenging as well as the limited time we have as surgeons to fix cardiovascular issues before getting the heart beating again and closing the incision.”
She said through her residency it became clear to her that she wanted to specialize in cardiothoracic surgery.
She then started making her way up the East Coast, first heading to the Bronx in New York for fellowship training in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine. There, she served as chief resident, a physician leader role. She then moved onto an advanced fellow in adult cardiac surgery training at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut.
In 2017, Dr. Mok became board certified with the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and headed to the Midwest. She was clinical assistant professor of medicine and clinical associate of robotic cardiac surgery at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio for a couple of years before heading back east where she held the role of attending cardiothoracic surgeon at Catholic Health-Mercy Hospital of Buffalo in New York. After two years there, she missed the Midwest.
“I like the Midwest,” she said. “The people here are friendly, warm and they go out of their way to help others.”
In July 2019, she began healing hearts in Northeast Wisconsin at ThedaCare. She continues to challenge herself professionally as she specializes in the use of robotics, which has enhanced access to heart health options for patients not available before in this area.
It’s important for her to stay connected to the latest research in cardiothoracic care and to her peers through various organizations, including the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons, Women in Thoracic Surgery and the Association of Women Surgeons.
She is passionate about women’s health and has been closely involved with Go Red for Women with the American Heart Association.
“Many women that I know, including friends, family members and even myself, tend to prioritize taking care of other people over their own health,” she said. “This puts our health in a disadvantageous position. I hope women change their priorities through this work promoting heart health.”
Dr. Mok’s many talents extend beyond her professional life. She plays the piano, violin and viola, and she looks forward to exploring the music scene in the Appleton area. She plans to check out events at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center and the world-renown Academy of Music at Lawrence University.
She also is athletic and an outdoor enthusiast, enjoying mostly running, tennis and downhill skiing and snowboarding. She says she cannot wait to experience a Wisconsin winter, including trying her hand at ice fishing with her husband.
This multilingual physician, not only fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin but also proficient in French, has enjoyed traveling to different continents. Dr. Mok now wants to stay close to home to discover the natural terrain of Northeast Wisconsin.
“I like my new surroundings and the diverse culture – both here at ThedaCare and in the Appleton area,” she said. “I’ve already visited Door County, which is incredibly beautiful.”
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to a community of more than 600,000 residents in 14 counties and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals. ThedaCare has 180 locations including seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.