Meet Ashley : Women in Medicine

November 3, 2017

Social media can influence us in many different ways, but my favorite thing about social media is how easy it is to find inspiration. We can connect with people all around the world, simply by using the device in our white coat pocket. Throughout my journey through medical school, I have really enjoyed connecting with women on Instagram who have paved the way before me. Reading their posts and hearing their advice has given me hope and lifted my spirits, even on the darkest days of this journey.

This past summer, I wanted to learn more about some of the women some of these inspirational women. I wanted to discover more about their journey and seek their advice for handling all the bumps along the way. I believe everyone has a story, and by sharing those stories, we can uplift each other and value each other as mentors and friends. And so, I decided to start a women in medicine series on my blog.

As an aspiring pediatrician, I stumbled upon Ashley's Instagram and her positive captions immediately resonated with my soul. Ashley graciously took the time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for us about her life as a pediatric resident.

You can follow her journey here : @doctor.ashley

Ashley, MD
Where do you call home? The Bay Area, CA

Where did you go to school? I went to UCLA for undergrad where I earned a BS in Neuroscience. I took a gap year and worked in heart transplant clinical research for 1 year before starting medical school. I went to Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, where I received my MD.

What made you decide to pursue a career in pediatrics? I have always loved working with children. I enjoyed babysitting and in college, I sought out volunteer opportunities where I could interact and play with kids of all ages. My mom is a pediatric nurse and has always inspired me, so I think that also helped lead me to Pediatrics. Growing up, I would often visit her in the hospital (especially on holidays!) for a meal or just to say hi, and she would introduce me to some of her patients, which was my first exposure to peds.

I went to medical school with an open mind, and I actually enjoyed all my clinical rotations as a third year, so it was harder to decide on a specialty than I had anticipated. I considered Dermatology, Obgyn and even briefly ENT (I wanted to specialize in Pediatrics of course! I still think cochlear implants are amazing!). Ultimately, I chose Pediatrics because I love the patient population and liked the "bread and butter" of Peds as well as the fascinating congenital pathology/anomalies. I considered lifestyle and the culture in my ultimate decision. In Pediatrics, I also definitely fit in and clicked with the attending pediatricians and residents and I was able to identify doctors that I wanted to emulate.

What is your favorite experience since starting your residency? Least favorite or most challenging aspect? My favorite experiences have been discharging kinds from the hospital or ED because they are feeling better! It's so rewarding to have a child come in crying, appearing miserable, and after you reach the correct diagnosis and treat the child, the child returns to their happy, playful self! My least favorite part is dealing with difficult diagnoses, such as a brain tumor or cancer in a child. 

What was important to you when you were ranking residency programs for the match? How did the couples match play into your decision? The couples match definitely added complexity to the whole situation. We wanted to find good programs for the both of us. We both went on some interviews we didn't really want to go to if the other person really loved their corresponding program. Thankfully, it worked out perfectly for us and we are so happy at our respective programs! Honestly, the couples match was the largest factor in our decision. Essentially, we were picking each other over the program/place. I wanted a larger program (for scheduling and patient volume purposes), in a major city, with a good reputation and good fellowship programs.

What does a typical day look like for you? During residency, your schedule varies month to month, but I will describe a typical day on an inpatient service for a first-year Pediatrics resident:

6:00am: Arrive at the hospital floor and get sign-out from the overnight resident about my patients overnight and hear about any new admission that came overnight.
6:30-7:30am: Round on my patients and start (and hopefully finish!) their progress notes for the day.
7:30-8:00am: Teaching (usually case reports or board review)
8:00-11:00am: Round as a whole team with the attending on all the patients on the floor and decide on a plan for the day for each patient.
11:00-12:00pm: Work on to-do list from rounds. There may already be new admissions to work-up on the floor.
12:00-1:00pm: Noon conference. Protected didactic teaching time for interns. The senior residents will take our phones and manage the floor so we can focus on the presentation. It's also the time of the day where I get to see my co-interns and lunch is provided! 
1:00pm- end of the day: Finish to-do list and work up new admissions. If I am "short call", I will sign out my patients to the "long call" intern whenever my work is complete, usually between 4:00-5:30pm. Then I'll go home to relax/workout or try to make it to a happy hour with my co-interns! If I am long call, I will receive sign out from all the other interns on my team and cover these patients until the night resident arrives at 7:00pm. Then, I will sign out the whole floor and hopefully leave the hospital by 8:00pm.

What are you most excited about as you start your residency? Becoming more confident, deciding on a future career path, more procedure exposure!

Looking back onto medical school, is there anything you know now that you wish you knew in school or any advice for students in medical school? Try not to compare yourself to your classmates too much. I love this quote/joke: "What do you call the medical student that graduated last in his class? Doctor." In medical school, you are surrounded by smart, determined, driven people, who were likely all at the top of their college classes. Remind yourself you belong there often. Also, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF 4TH YEAR VACATION TIME.

How do you like to spend your free time? Exercising has been a great stress reliever and a fun social activity for me since college. I love trying new group fitness classes! When I can, I also love traveling- there are so many places I want to go! On a typical day, most of my free time is spent sleeping, scoping out new restaurants, and catching up on TV shows with my fiancĂ©.

What advice would you like give to women in the medical field? Choose the field that you love and that inspires you. Some specialties have very few women, do not let that deter you!

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Regardless of where you are at in your journey, Ashley's Instagram posts will inspire you and leave you with a smile on your face. Her upbeat and cheerful personality will serve her well as she tackles the years of residency ahead of her. With a wedding to plan and kids to treat, there will be no shortage of rewarding and fulfilling days to come. I'm excited to follow along on her journey and see all that she accomplishes! 

Thanks for taking the time to share a piece of your journey, Ashley. I'm cheering for you! :) 

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