Finding Your Specialty When Nothing “Fits” – Surviving Medicine Podcast: Part 1

Finding Your Specialty When Nothing “Fits” – Surviving Medicine Podcast: Part 1


Welcome to surviving medicine, the
podcast that takes you into the mind of the best and brightest, pre-medical and
medical students, residents and physicians, discussing where medical
education is today and the future of healthcare tomorrow. Each week we bring
you an inside look at how to survive medical education and how to thrive as a
practicing physician, balancing work patients, family and friends. Welcome to
the podcast everyone my name is Frank Cusimano. Your host. A fourth-year PhD student and third-year medical student with a
passion for anything health, medicine, health care-related. Before I begin I
want to take a moment to thank you for listening in and following along on our
podcast. We would appreciate if you go to your favorite podcast app leave a review
and rate us or follow along in any way possible. Links and show notes will be
available at our website www.survivingmedicine.com. For any information and also links to BoardVitals for today’s episode. Without any further ado, Dr. Paul why don’t you introduce yourself. Hi. Thank you yes as you
mentioned them I have traditional beginnings of medical education and sort
of veered into more of the business side but staying within medicine. I guess I have always had sort of an interest in entrepreneurial ventures and I loved
medical education I love my education experience and like you said it just was
a realization that clinical practice I guess was not the best fit for me but I
still wanted to stay in the same field and help others who you know for whom
clinical practice was was really their passion. So let’s start back all the way
to the beginning. What got you interested in medicine and why did you I guess go
into the path of going to the medical school in the first place. Yeah I mean
the debate for me prior to applying to medical school was business versus
medicine. I have a family with half engineers and half medical professionals
and my father’s a physician and so uh you know there was definitely the
realization that medicine is a good stable career, it falls within my
interest in science and that was sort of what led me to medicine in the first
place. Interesting. So I guess you went to the
traditional route of college and then medical school. Tell me a little bit
about college years and then going into medical school and how was that
transition. Sure, so I grew up in Canada actually and I did my undergraduate
degree in Canada and near the border of Michigan and so when it came time to
apply to medical school as I thought well these schools in Michigan are
actually closer to my hometown than any schools in Canada were and so I sent out some applications in Michigan as well as in Canada and ended
up being accepted to Michigan State and I didn’t know they had never had an
international medical student before so it was an interesting learning curve for
them to you know they didn’t realize they needed a visa and all that, but it all worked out in the end but I ended up there and I thought a great
educational experience at Michigan State. That’s actually really interesting so
I have, we obviously own an admissions company, and listeners
know this that we help students get into medical school for anyone that is
applying and I had a student yesterday from Canada who got into Michigan State
yeah and it’s really funny because now they actually have and this wasn’t like
that I guess when you went through the program but now they actually have a
what’s called a Canadian initiative and then they specifically have a set number
of spots in their school set for Canadian applicants because they know
that getting a Canadian applicants into their school may be good because then
they’re typically going to go back but they’re in a practice right near the
border, which is like great for both countries but there’s best kind of
sometimes the hardest place to practice. That’s interesting because you know
the year after I came in it was one Canadian who came the next year and then it sort of grown since then I guess. Yeah, wow that’s
really funny. Okay so you went to Michigan State, how was how was Medical
School for you? So it was a pretty I think traditional common medical school
type experience. One unique program they had there that was
the opportunity for an international rotation so I enjoyed that a lot. We
went to Central America both third and fourth year to do international medicine. Was that in multiple months? Yes, it was three months in third
year and then one month in fourth year. Oh wow, so were you
in kind of a rural environment then? Mm-hmm we had to learn
Spanish which for some people was easier than for me who had never spoken a word
of Spanish before then, but I went to French school in Canada so it was a
little overlap and then we were sent to various rural clinic sites as well as
urban sites as well. it’s interesting to think
about that dynamic of being over here from Canada going to an American medical
school and it just slowly moving farther down south, but it seems like you always
kind of had this passion for helping people and giving back to the community
that you that you were in what made you where did it come about that you started
thinking about residency and in which path you wanted to go down? So I probably
was this medical student in my entire year that drove the various attendings
the most crazy as far as not being able to decide what specialty I wanted to
do. I did every rotation possible even one week if I could and something just
to see if that was it and I think that was probably the beginning of my
realization that maybe none of them fit right perfectly for me and I kind of
wanted to do everything. And so I saw one by one all of my classmates finding their calling and thier like ‘oh we did
this rotation this is perfect I love it’ and one by one everyone had sort of
categorized themselves and I was left like lost. So that’s why I went the
internal medicine route thinking it was broad and general enough that I could
hopefully use that first year to figure out what the right path was from
there and then I switched after my intern year to pathology because I thought
they like they do everything look at everything and there’s a lot of teaching
and so I love that and then it just I think one day realized that
within the breadth of knowledge that I’ll just have to know there was a
really lack of educational materials. My husband was a psychiatry resident at the time
and they had very few you know materials or products other than you know
handwritten notes to study from and so that’s sort of where the first ideas
came about to do what we’re doing now. So your father was a physician your husband
as well, it’s like you’re around this community of medical
professionals and it’s probably a unique place to where you’ve been able to see
what areas there’s weaknesses in the profession as a whole. Mm-hmm, yeah
definitely. I keep in touch with all you know of my classmates and
I’m in touch with hundreds of physicians on a daily basis now still and so it’s
really interesting to see things change over time. Satisfaction and different
specialties really can change just based on little policy changes or you know
administration changes in a hospital and so I love doing that you know a lot of
people say like once you leave don’t go look back but I love looking back and I
love catching back up with of my clinical physician friends because it’s
so interesting to see their insights and hear what’s rewarding about their
jobs, what’s a challenge or difficulty or something that you know
pain point for them and it varies a ton from one special to the other. What were you I guess going through going through medical school and going through
residency, besides your support examinations or licensing exams, where
where did you felt like there’s a weakness I guess in medical education
because I’m you’re obviously going more towards the board certification and
licensing exam disruptions like you’re going towards to helping push physicians
in that way I’m really interested in medical education I want to stay as a
teacher I want to stay as a professor and I think that there’s some disruption
that’s needed in medical education as rudimentary as some of it is. What
areas do you think or do you looking back do you think you know you could
have done differently or do you wish that your school had done differently?
Yeah I think one thing I didn’t realize is that every school is completely
different and that really you learned that when you get to residency and that
you can see you know what experience people have had before or not and where
there may have been gaps and I think. So you know my school specifically
I felt had a great focus and primary care focus and when we got to some of
the unit rotations like ICU it was a little more difficult so I think when
one big gap would be just bringing everyone up making sure everyone every
school is up to par for every rotation particularly if they go into a primary care
or like a general intern kind of year and so I felt like maybe you know that
could be improved and then just technology. I mean there’s so much that’s
still done in such an inefficient low-tech way that it doesn’t make sense
anymore. And that’s improved a lot. I know most of the
schools now have everything available for the most part
electronically and there’s less paper charting and stuff but I think it used
to be quite you know you’d spend more time doing something manually that you
know you could pick up easier through technologies. It’s interesting because
there’s now I don’t know if you know the AMA does like these initiative grants
especially for medical education and it’s really interesting because some of
the schools have put in big frameworks to do more gaming education which is
learning to be a physician through games and through more simulation based stuff
which is to me really interesting to think about you know using a different
model of Education as opposed to just traditional book reading or or just you
know it’s doing practice tests it’s like these other models may be able to active
activate other pathways that maybe will foster and reinforce on the concepts.
Yeah and I mean that’s a lot of what we do is try to make everything active
learning instead of watching a video or being talked at like a lecture style
environment. When you’re having to interact your have you have to choose an
answer, you have to click, you have to be actively engaged with the platform. I
think there’s just way higher retention so I think anything that medical schools
could do to make it less lecture and typed- based and more interactive would be
would be a big improvement too.

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