Angel Charles, M.D.
"When you go into general surgery, you take care of a little bit of everything."
What made you want to become a surgeon?
I was one of those students who loved everything. I didn’t want to make up my mind. When you go into general surgery, you take care of a little bit of everything. All ages, sexes, illnesses and complications. You see kids, the elderly and pregnant people. Essentially, you get to practice a lot of medicine in addition to conducting surgery. It’s the all encompassing joys of being a physician, you know? Ever since I was little, I gravitated toward those who were ill and became a part of their care. If there was a sick family member, I was the one heating their soup and checking in on them. I had a natural tendency to be a caretaker. In high school, I completed a CNA program. I learned that I wanted to be more involved in patient care, so I went to college, and planned on going to medical school, too.
What stands out to you about your training at UF?
I fell in love with research. That’s why I chose UF. Our department has a very strong clinical program, and the research is world class. You can find experts in everything, and there’s always someone involved in an area of growing research.
Surgery is a demanding and fast-paced specialty. I’m also a mom. I couldn’t do it without my amazing support system. There are ways to make it work. One of the things I noticed when I interviewed here was that our surgery department had more residents who were parents. I felt like it was family-oriented. There were events where people brought their kids, and people find ways to support you. One day my babysitter fell through and my mom was gone. Another time, I got a flat tire. Each time, my residents covered me. They had my back.
Inevitably, being a resident and a parent means understanding that you have a lot to juggle. You won’t be the best at everything at the same time. But I’m a great mom, and some of that even translates to good patient centered care. At the end of the day, everything gets done. I’m going to get my education–even if I have a baby crawling over me during ab exercises.
What was one of the most memorable moments of your residency?
From a professional standpoint, being on a lung procurement was incredibly memorable. It was some of the coolest anatomy I have been exposed to. Transplant is also incredible in that it’s someone else’s ultimate gift, and they’re giving it to someone else. But there’s so many things I’ve enjoyed. Pre-pandemic wakeboarding with my co-residents, barbecues. I’ve had senior residents stand up for me when going through things on the ward. Everything has reaffirmed my decision to go here. People are easy to get along with and they genuinely care about taking good care of patients.
What advice would you give other residents?
In order to be the best surgeon you can be, you must find ways to protect your health, your sanity, your peace and your joy.
If you’re unsure about surgery as a specialty, try and do a rotation and see how it is for yourself. Make a confident choice about the program and be happy with that choice. Try to find a resident on social media and ask them about their experience. Get to know the people in the program as best as you can. You can look up the stats to see how prolific they are in research, or what their match rate for fellowship is. But you can’t see what the people are like. My advice is to to get to know us. I think we’re worth it.