"The best surgeons are not just problem-solvers — they're also creative ones."
What made you want to become a surgeon?
I’ve always thought medicine was an ever-changing field. I feel like I grew up watching medical shows and reading about medical cases, and I always found them really interesting. Despite that initial interest, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life for a long time. I was a literature major for a little bit at my undergraduate college, FSU, because I wanted to be a writer. So, a huge change from that. And at one point, I was a theater major too. But it’s not all that surprising that I picked surgery. After all, what I really liked about surgery was the way in which combined art and science. People think of art and science as being very separate, but they’re incredibly intertwined, especially in medicine. The best surgeons are not just problem-solvers — they’re also creative ones.
What stands out to you about your training at UF?
Our residency program provides a space for residents to be their most authentic selves. We’re all very different, and we like different things. But at the same time, I never feel the pressure to be anything other than myself. Our program gives us the grace and the room to grow, and to learn. Talking about my bad days is as comfortable as talking about my good days, because people will reminisce about how tough the process can be.
I’ve had nothing but good experiences with our faculty. Our program emphasizes not just being a surgeon, and not just being a surgery resident, but also being a well-rounded person. Dr. Sarosi, our program director, always reminds us that if we’re going on X hour of patient care without sleep, you’re doing no one a disservice by letting someone know you need to go get some rest. It’s a question of patient safety and your own wellbeing. A fellow resident will cover for you, and you’ll pay it forward. That kind of culture, one of safety and consideration, is incredibly important—it makes the field more inviting and welcoming to all kinds of people.
When I was on the interview trail and interviewing at other places, I got the sense that UF is very special. The residents get along and there is a genuine sense of camaraderie between us. I feel like I’m a part of a team even though I’m a first-year resident, and that was something that I thought was very special.
What was one of the most memorable moments of your residency?
One of the best things that I’ve learned is the importance of listening to patients and letting them have a chance to express their concerns, or their fears about surgeries, and what they’re worried about in the future. Being there and being able to give them the support they need has felt incredibly important and rewarding. As an intern, I have the most time to spend with the patient out of many of the members on the team—attendings are very busy, older residents are in the OR—so I have those extra 10 minutes to spend with each patient. People need to feel seen and heard. I’ve found that going in and asking open-ended questions, learning what’s going on, and creating that bond with patients and their families is really, really important. I may not be in the OR yet, but moments like these make me feel that I’m in the right field, and the right place.
Going into surgery is an incredibly vulnerable time in a patient’s life. It can be very scary. So having that opportunity to make a patient feel safe is invaluable to me, and one of the most important parts of the work ahead. As the first-year resident, I’ve tried to remember those moments going forward.
What advice would you give other residents?
Remember to keep a good sense of humor, and stay lighthearted. Everyone can have moments where you feel a little down. Take care of yourself, too. You can get very bogged down in making sure everything is getting taken care of, and forget to take care of yourself. Remember to take a quiet, still moment to check in with yourself. Our job revolves around making sure people are, at the end of the day, okay. It’s important that you’re okay, too.