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I Am BWFH: Dr. Faina Nakhlis

Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee is charged with celebrating the cultural diversity of staff and supporting staff with their cultural needs. In our series, I Am BWFH, we explore the unique backgrounds of the staff members that help make BWFH a great place to work and receive care. In this installment, we hear from breast cancer surgeon Dr. Faina Nakhlis.

Please introduce yourself- what is your name and role here at BWFH?

My name is Faina Nakhlis and I’m a breast cancer surgeon in Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Breast Center.

What place (country/region) do you consider “home”?

I was born in Ukraine but the United States has been my home since I was 17 years old.

What was it like to grow up in Ukraine?

When I was growing up, Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. It was a totalitarian society with many limitations imposed on its people. I consider myself and my family extremely lucky to have lived in this country since I was a teenager.

Describe your favorite holiday or tradition from your home/culture.

Believe it or not, the biggest holiday in my culture is New Year’s Eve! The New Year’s Eve celebration starts at 9 or 10 pm on December 31 “to see the old year off” and then the New Year is “greeted” at midnight and the party goes on until early morning or into the next day… It is far more subdued (and reasonably so) in the US.

Describe your favorite food from your home/culture?

Gefilte fish! I like my mom’s gefilte fish. I have tried to make it, it took all day and it was not so good so I will stick with my mom’s for now… My kids like Ukrainian candy and pastries, less so for other foods.

How long have you lived in the Boston area and what brought you here?

I have lived in the Boston area for 14 years. I came here in 2003 for my job at BWFH.

How does your culture influence your life here in Boston?

Boston is a very multicultural city and my family and I have exposure here to various cultures which has been amazing. I have kept in touch with a couple of my high school and college friends who still live in Ukraine. My kids have met some of them. Both of my kids are bilingual so they have been able to communicate with them (they speak Russian). My kids have also been involved in Russian-language theater, there are several of them in Boston!

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