Match, Residents Program Interviews, Medical Students

Resident Interview with Dr. Ashley Kowalkowski, PGY-2 and Incoming Chief Resident at Spectrum Health Lakeland

In our first installment of our Resident Q&A series, we are highlighting the Spectrum Health Lakeland Emergency Medicine Residency Program. We spoke with the incoming Chief Resident, Ashley Kowalkowski, MD, about what makes their program unique from a Residents perspective.

What made you choose your program?

I knew our program was right for me after completing an ultrasound rotation. The benefit of a close-knit community program is that each resident and attending took an interest in my learning. Not only was I exposed to POCUS (point of care ultrasound), I was also scheduled for a few ED shifts to feel the flow of our department and directly participate in medical decision making with our residents and attendings. I was very impressed by the collaborative attending-resident relationship and individual autonomy I saw on shift. I set a goal to embody the caliber of leadership, efficiency, and excellent patient care provided by our senior residents.

How does your program provide wellness measures?

Our program frequently checks in on each individual resident's wellness. We have faculty mentors that encourage close relationships to trouble shoot conflicts or provide support as well as to celebrate our successes. We have scheduled and spontaneous resident gatherings throughout the year and I feel most rejuvenated after a chance to spend time outside of work with my Lakeland family. Our faculty also makes a point to schedule multiple protected days each year to ensure all residents are off clinical duties to bond and have fun together!

Is your program a community based or academic based program? What is the advantage of your program’s setting?

Our program trains the ultimate community physician, with extensive experience in stabilizing pediatric and adult patients with a wide range of severity of illness as the primary hospital system within an hour drive. The unopposed ED allows us the freedom to perform our own trauma/medical resuscitations, procedures, and sedations. There is no graduated responsibility to hold back our learning from the first day of intern year. After graduation our residents are prepared to perform in a department of any size, with any number of resources.

What is something medical students can do to help prepare for residency?

The best piece of advice I found while on the interview trail was to find a program that I could imagine myself after making a mistake. Somewhere that I felt comfortable being myself, with the freedom to explore practice styles, medical management, and career interests without judgement or fear of failure. Our program made me feel supported, involved, and encouraged from my first day as a student. There is no denying that residency training is challenging. Finding a program to challenge you in a constructive rather than detrimental way, lends to a healthy environment for growth and learning.

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