Truth, empathy, life balance and sharing wisdom are all keys to a successful
career in neurological surgery as well as in life, Washington Hospital’s
Dr. Moses Taghioff told graduating neurological surgery students at the
Cleveland Clinic’s annual commencement in June.
A neurological surgery specialist at Washington Hospital for the past 43
years, Dr. Taghioff was invited to give this year’s prestigious
Gardner Lecture commencement speech as a “Distinguished Alumnus”
of the Cleveland Clinic where he was a resident in Neurological Surgery
from 1969 to 1973.
Dr. Taghioff serves as the medical director of perioperative and strategic
surgical services for the Washington Hospital Healthcare System. A former
chief of staff at the Hospital, he also previously had a private medical
practice in the community which was established in 1973.
“Life balance is what you need to succeed,” Dr. Taghioff told
the graduates. “Don’t neglect your family; your family is
the foremost contributor to your success. Make sure you always have time
“Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day
in your life,” continued Dr. Taghioff as he quoted Confucius in
conveying to the graduates that they must love their work.
“Patients need to know what to expect,” remarked Dr. Taghioff.
“You must tell the truth, all the time.” He said patients
and their families will not forgive you for not telling them the truth.
Learn empathy, he advised.
“Empathy is different than compassion, different than sympathy,”
Dr. Taghioff said. “Listen to your patients with empathy. Remember
that when a patient comes into your office, it’s the worst time
of their life.”
He told the graduates that they must share what they have learned with
others – their colleagues and their junior fellows.
“You have experience and, even better, wisdom,” continued Dr.
Taghioff with his words of advice. “Be a mentor. Be a role model.
Be confident in whatever you do. Be reliable; and above all, do no harm.”
He gave each graduate a copy of the Hippocratic Oath and told them to put
it on the walls of their offices and read it every day.
“Never, ever retire,” said Dr. Taghioff in closing.
A native of Bombay, India, Dr. Taghioff graduated from medical school in
Bombay in 1966 and then immigrated to the United States to work as an
intern at St. Vincent Charity Hospital in Cleveland, where he came to
the attention of Cleveland Clinic physicians also working at the hospital.
After completing a general surgery residency at Albert Einstein Medical
Center in Philadelphia, he was a resident at the Cleveland Clinic Education
Foundation, completing that program in 1973.
While working in London in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the
National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Dr. Taghioff was recruited to
join the medical staff at Washington Hospital.
“Where is Fremont? I asked,” Dr. Taghioff said. He then learned
it was in California where one could grow lemon trees because the climate
was so mild. “It was the lemon tree that did it,” he said.
“And I’ve been here happily ever since.”
During his 43-year association with Washington Hospital, Dr. Taghioff has
served in a wide variety of leadership positions within the Hospital –
on the medical staff as well as working to support the Hospital in the
community through numerous fundraising and other community efforts. He
has been active in several Fremont and Alameda County organizations.