UAB Medicine News
Current Residents, Fellows Share Advice on Early Training Years
Training residents and fellows is a key element in the mission of UAB Medicine, one of the largest academic medical centers in the nation. These formidable years can be a challenging transition period for clinicians in training, as they begin developing expertise that goes beyond the classroom and lab to include direct patient care.
There is no substitute for time and experience, but there is knowledge to be gleaned from the experiences of others – knowledge that may help new and incoming trainees. To that end, we asked a handful of UAB Medicine physicians who are a few years into their training, “What is one thing you wish you knew as a PGY1 or new UAB fellow?” Some of their responses are summarized below:
Lindsey Shipley, MD – Internal Medicine
Residency is hard, so lean on and help your peers. Take time for yourself and enjoy your free time when you can. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; everyone is here to help. Continually look back at how much you have learned, because you know more than you think you do.
Mythreyi Mahalingam, MD – OB/GYN
I wish I knew that I would be the only person responsible for my personal integrity. There are times when nobody is looking behind you, and you are the only person responsible for that patient. That patient trusts you, and only you. I wish I knew that everyone around me is at a different level of learning. My fellow, my chief, my upper level – we are all learning, and nobody is perfect. And we all are constantly learning.
Kirk Russ, MD – Internal Medicine & Gastroenterology
Residency training is a marathon, not a sprint. My personal tendency as an intern was to try to function as an upper-level resident right from the start. This is A) not possible and B) highly stressful. You have to trust the process and take it one day at a time.
Michael Osunsanmi, MD – Anesthesiology
One thing I wish I knew as a PGY1 is that no question is a dumb question, whether it’s something related to medicine or just finding the bathroom. UAB is such a big place and at times can be overwhelming. We take care of some of the sickest patients in the southeast. It’s hard to know everything, but there is always help when you need it most.
Rachel Bass, MD – Radiology
Looking back on my time as a PGY1, I am grateful that I took ownership of all of my patients and the work that I did. Not only did it grow me into a physician, it also made me feel that my work was meaningful during that year, rather than just waiting for my “real” career to begin. I would encourage interns to learn as much as they can during that year. I would also stress to anyone at the beginning of their career that professional relationships really do propel you forward. The medical world is very small, especially in each given specialty. Relationships that I developed with attendings and fellow residents have opened job opportunities that I am grateful for. Residency really is a three- to five-year job interview. Start being the person you want to be 10 years from now today.
McGee Hopper, MD – PediatricsI wish I knew how important it was to develop a community outside of work. My co-residents have become my best friends and some of my greatest supporters, but at the end of some days, what I need most is to be somewhere I don't have to talk or think about medicine. Find a place (a workout class, a church group, a kickball team, etc.) where you can maintain your non-medical identity. It will have a remarkable impact on your wellness.
Emily Poindexter Floyd, MD – Pediatrics
Deciding to continue my training at UAB was an easy decision. After interviewing here for a pediatric residency, I immediately recognized how incredible the atmosphere was. But I did not fully appreciate how amazing this community is until my residency class was involved in a bus crash at the beginning of our intern year. The outpouring of love and support we received across all specialties is what sets UAB apart and makes UAB a home, not just a workplace!
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