Residency Spotlight: OB-GYN
Jun 22, 2021 Katie Rosenblum
Residency is one of the most exciting times in a doctor's life. Once medical school is completed, newly minted physicians are matched with teaching hospitals and become residents, or doctors in training.
This is the time when doctors focus on a specialty and act as house staff for the medical center with which they are paired. During their three to seven years of training, residents work long hours to master their craft and complete their time ready to practice on their own.
We sat down with three residents from the OB-GYN department to hear more about their experiences as burgeoning physicians.
"I would definitely recommend coming here for training—this program trains you to be ready to practice anywhere, and I really appreciate that."
Why did you want to do your residency at Cedars-Sinai?
One of my priorities in finding a residency was to train somewhere with a high volume of patients and cases. I'm someone who learns through practice and repetition, so this program is a great fit for me. We have days where we deliver 20-30 babies in a 24-hour period, and nothing beats that experience. Cedars-Sinai also has an excellent reputation in gynecology and gynecologic oncology, so I knew I would get strong surgical training. Additionally, the leadership in the OB-GYN department is very attuned to issues of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, which fits in well with my own goals of practicing medicine in a way that promotes reproductive and social justice.
How has your first year of residency compared to what you expected?
Based on advice from mentors and friends who have gone through it before me, I tried to enter this year with no expectations. I knew that it was unrealistic to make assumptions before I started, and I wanted to leave myself tons of space to make mistakes without feeling disappointed. I waited until a few months in, then set small personal and professional goals that I continually adjust as I progress. But at the same time, I am very generous with myself when I'm just too exhausted to read that extra research article or spend that extra hour in the simulation center practicing surgical skills. I think this general approach has been key to maintaining my happiness this year.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned this year?
The lesson I constantly remind myself when my job gets stressful is that patients remember you most for how you make them feel. You can be the smartest doctor in the room, the most technically proficient surgeon and have decades of experience, but none of that matters if your patients don't feel like you're taking good care of them. The extra time spent explaining a diagnosis in an accessible way or holding their hand when they are scared makes all the difference.
What are you looking forward to as a second-year resident?
This program does a great job giving increasing amounts of autonomy to residents as we earn it. The jump from first- to second-year resident is huge, because now all my attendings know who I am and can trust my clinical judgment. I'm looking forward to all the new challenges and opportunities that come with this new level of responsibility.
What's been the biggest difference between your first and second resident years?
Second year is interesting because you have so much more knowledge and confidence. When people start asking questions, you get to answer them, and people are happy to hear from you. In your first year, you're more scared and want to impress people, and there's a lot of pressure to know everything.
What's the most important thing you've learned in your second year?
I've learned that this is the time and place to make mistakes. It's OK to be wrong, and this is the time to learn and grow from that.
What's your advice to someone thinking about pursuing residency at Cedars-Sinai?
Be ready to work. This is not a program for people who don't want to work. I would definitely recommend coming here for training—this program trains you to be ready to practice anywhere, and I really appreciate that.
What's been the hardest part of your residency so far?
OB-GYN in general is difficult. We rotate through so many different divisions—from gynecology oncology, to labor and delivery, family planning and everything in between. It's a steep learning curve. I also moved here from Minnesota by myself, and the distance has been difficult lately with everything going on.
What are your primary responsibilities as a third-year resident?
We do more operating and taking care of more high-risk patients, while also learning how to become a chief resident (fourth-year residents). You take on some responsibility of supervising the junior residents and teaching them, so you're doing harder things while learning how to teach.
What are you looking forward to after residency?
What made you want to come to Cedars-Sinai?
I was born here and grew up not far from here. Cedars-Sinai has been my community hospital my whole life. There's a lot of meaning for me in these halls. I always knew this was where I wanted to be, and it feels really special to be here now.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned so far in residency?
Everyone has a different story and is coming from somewhere different, and we—as their care providers—have to keep that in mind. No two patients are the same. You can't get stuck in one way of doing things. You have to adapt for the patient you're treating.