Asking EM Residents: What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

Breeanna Messner, MSIII - Washington State University Elson S Floyd College of Medicine
EMRA MSC West Coordinator, 2022-2023

Nicholas Rodriguez, MSIII - Kaiser Permanente Bernard J Tyson School of Medicine
EMRA MSC Pacific Regional Representative 2022-2023

Kit Sitterley, OMSIV - Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine
EMRA MSC Southwest Regional Representative, 2022-2023

Mentorship is a key component to medical education, with students, residents, and attendings always reaching back to provide a helping hand to those following in their footsteps. This month, we reached out to three EM resident physicians from around the country to ask them what advice they would give to their younger selves. This is what they had to say.

Morgan Black, MD (PGY-2: Oregon Health Sciences University)
"My most important piece of advice is to become comfortable saying 'I don't know.' We often feel in medicine that people depend on us to have all the answers and saying 'I don't know' makes us appear intellectually weak. But as a learner, it illustrates the opposite. Being able to say 'I don't know' displays a strong sense of emotional awareness and that you accept the limitations of your knowledge. Rather than seeing this as a failure, I try to look at it as an opportunity to grow and learn. These three words will help you gain trust from your attendings, your medical team, and your patients in residency and beyond.

"My second piece of advice is to begin specialty exploration early in medical school through shadowing, joining interest groups, conducting informational interviews, and finding research projects. Don’t focus all your time on your test scores - the knowledge you will gain and the extra-curricular opportunities that become available through early exploration will help make you a well-rounded candidate. It will also make the application and interview process easier to have a breadth of experiences to discuss!"

Arpita Gupta, MD (PGY-1: Kaiser Permanente San Diego)
"To my younger self I want you to always remember that you are exactly where you are meant to be. You don’t have to figure it all out today - trust the process and be open to new opportunities because your hard work will lead you to the specialty that is best for you. Medicine is a challenging field and it’s okay to not know everything. You have chosen a career of lifelong learning. Treat patients and their families with the utmost compassion because no matter what kind of day you are having, they are almost certainly having one of their worst days if they are in the Emergency department. Remember that you are human -it’s okay to show emotion and to take breaks. Make time to celebrate birthdays and holidays with your loved ones because even though it seems all-consuming at times, your career is just one part of your life. And when you're running low on fuel, remind yourself that this journey chose you just as much as you chose it. Most importantly, stay true to yourself - you will be proud of the doctor you become."

Dr. Bianca Mayfield, DO (PGY-1: Naval Medical Center Portsmouth)
"The biggest piece of advice that I would give my younger medical student self? Avoid comparing yourself to others. It gets very easy, especially around match time to compare your stats to other applicants and even your friends. I found myself thinking I didn't do 'enough' - research, volunteering, etc compared to other students, so how would I match? But it's important to stay focused on what makes you an all-around awesome human, and show that to programs. Being the most dedicated, fiercely kind, and perpetually humble person goes further than any test score."

We would like to express our gratitude to the residents who, despite having very busy schedules, took the time to give us very thoughtful answers. If you found their responses helpful and would like to seek more personalized advice for your journey as a medical student interested in Emergency Medicine, consider signing up for EMRA's medical student mentor program HERE to find a resident mentor in emergency medicine! 

Related Content

Mar 22, 2021

Beginners’ Guide to Toxicology for Medical Students

Toxicology is a vast field, and as medical students, we have very limited exposure to the field while in school. There are some quick and easy steps you can take as a medical student to introduce and immerse yourself into the field of Toxicology, so without further ado, let’s talk Tox!

Dec 29, 2020

June 2021 AMA Update

Between attending kick-boxing classes and posting memes in the “Shenanigans” GroupMe, medical students from across the country met virtually earlier this month to debate and vote on health policy issues at the American Medical Association (AMA) Medical Student Section (MSS) Meeting. This event empowers student members to help shape the policy of the AMA and their advocacy efforts at a national and local level.

Dec 29, 2020

Fall 2020 AMA Delegate Report

Through a combination of Zoom meetings and Lumi voting platforms, over 1,000 participants contributed to the 2020 Special Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates (HOD) between November 7 and November 17, including medical students, residents, and physician delegates from across the country. Read the EMRA Student Delegate report.