6 Things I Would Have Done Differently in PA School

We asked current PAs for their best pieces of advice

Oct 11, 2016 - Doximity Blog

PA School is an experience unlike any other. In honor of National PA Week, we reached out to PAs and asked them to share their best pieces of advice for those currently in PA school.

Here are our top answers from PAs who have been in your shoes:

Utilize your classmates

“Every new student of medicine - no matter how green - has unique talents and gifts. Each member of my class at UC Davis was an expert in some corner of medicine that I knew nothing about, and they were always glad to teach me if I asked. It took me a little longer to see that I was an expert in some things that others in my class didn't know much about, and that I could help them in turn.” - Paul Kubin

Try and maintain a good school/life balance

“While PA school can sometimes be overwhelming with midterms, exams, and having the constant anxiety of always studying, at the end of the day you are still a human being. You need "you time" to clear your mind, feed your brain and stay healthy mentally and physically. PA school will be always be a challenge, how you go about that challenge will make it more bearable. “ - John Dao

Be assertive

“Don't be afraid to be honest about what you want to do. Tell your professors and preceptors if there is an area you see yourself working in, and pursue it wholeheartedly. This goes for contract negotiations too. You'll never know what could happen if you don't ask.” - Savanna Perry

Remember the importance of networking

“Network with others in the profession sooner rather than later, and don’t be afraid to tell them what you are looking for. In a huge field like healthcare, much of your direction is shaped through personal connections with people you know - not like an "old boy" network, but like an "I know just the person you should speak with about that" network.” - Paul Kubin

Focus more on being a “practitioner” instead of just a “student in training”

“PA school can be viewed by many as an accelerated version of medical school with rotations ranging anywhere from 4-6 weeks. Quite frankly, this isn't enough time to master your skill set. So when you make that transition from didactics to clinicals, mentally prepare yourself to fully engage in that "practitioner" mindset no matter how difficult that speciality may be, because you will not have this opportunity to when you’re done with school.” - John Dao

Spend some time to reflect and appreciate

“Stop every now and then and take stock of where you are. School only lasts for two or three years, so savor this time when your biggest responsibility is to your own learning. Soon your biggest responsibility will be to your patients, which is wonderful too, but in a much different way.” - Paul Kubin

Keep these helpful hints in mind as you navigate your way through the challenging and rewarding experience of PA school.

Share your own advice and thoughts below!

Paul Kubin, MS, MFT, PA-C is a primary and urgent care physician assistant who writes and speaks passionately about physician assistant careers. He is the founder of a well-known and visited PA blog, MyPATraining. He lives, practices, and coaches pre-PAs in Sacramento, California.

Savanna Perry is a member of the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants, Georgia Dermatology Physician Assistants, American Academy of Physician Assistants, and the Georgia Association of Physician Assistants. She hosts a website called The PA Platform.

John Dao is a Family Medicine PA in San Jose, CA. He graduated from Touro University Mare Island in 2015.

PA Week 2016: How this Emergency Medicine PA Works

Continuing our "This is How I Work" series, see how this PA balances his two passions: writing and medicine

Oct 10, 2016 - Guest Author

Harrison Reed is a physician assistant who practices emergency and critical care medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center. You can follow him on Twitter at @HarrisonReedPA.

Choose one word that best describes your work style:

Dedicated. I have been writing and editing professionally for about 10 years and it’s something I never plan to quit. But I think the trap that comes with experience is the assumption that any prior success will lift up your current projects. I try really hard to not become complacent, to keep reinventing myself, to experiment and take risks. I never want to assume I get a pass because someone is familiar with my previous work. I write every article or essay with the assumption it will be the only sample of my writing you will ever read. I want them all to leave a great first impression.

What is your device of choice?

I always have my phone, but if I leave the house for more than one day I tend to bring my laptop. A phone just can’t handle word processing like a computer with a full-sized screen and keyboard.

Favorite apps & software?

People interested in medicine and writing can follow me on Twitter. For clinical apps, I like to use the PEPID Emergency Medicine suite. It’s a lot of information organized and formatted for the chaos of the ER.

What’s your secret to staying productive?

Consistency. Like exercise, writing and clinical medicine are much easier if you do them on a regular basis. Sometimes that means scheduling time to write or edit even if I’m not in the mood, or making sure I have time alone on my days off. The difficult thing is anticipating my own energy levels and acknowledging when the most productive thing is to get some sleep.

What do you wish you knew when you were younger?

That healthcare is a business. There are a lot of romantic ideas around the healthcare industry and in many ways medicine can be a very noble pursuit. But it doesn’t happen without budgets and sometimes even profits. As someone who had a more human-centered motivation to enter this line of work, that realization was tough. We can still put patient care first, but we must acknowledge the other forces at work in our industry so that we are not blindsided by their effects.

Who is your mentor?

I’ve had some great managers, editors, and teachers at various stages of my career. But my most dedicated and loyal mentor has always been my mom. She is still my toughest and most honest editor to this day.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

If it’s a work day I turn off an alarm that has been ringing for way too long.

On my days off, I walk down the street to my favorite café. The coffee is great and the owner works the cash register every day.

What’s the last thing you do before you go to sleep?

I wish I could say I have some sophisticated ritual but I just plug in my phone and make sure at least three alarms are set. There’s nothing worse than the cold sweat when you realize you’ve overslept.

How do you decompress?

I run outside when the weather allows it. But my favorite thing to do after a long day is play video games with my teenage nephew. I think he puts a lot of effort into making sure I don’t feel too old and out of touch.

I can’t live without...

My house definitely feels empty when I run out of hot sauce. There is also a void in my life when I don’t have a working pair of headphones. I could survive a post-apocalyptic world without those things but I wouldn’t be happy about it.

What are you currently reading?

In the fictional world I’m reading “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese and for nonfiction I am reading “How to Write Short” by Roy Peter Clark.

What’s your favorite book?

Roy Peter Clark’s “Writing Tools” changed my understanding of writing more than any other book. But the book that stands out in my mind is “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card. Card created a fantasy world without losing any of the grit and heartache of real life. It’s not often a book is both relatable and an escape at the same time.

Do you have a favorite song?

People are sometimes surprised to hear that I am a huge fan of hip-hop. I like Jay-Z’s music, specifically The Blueprint through The Black Album. But a song outside the genre that I really love is Frank Sinatra’s I Did it My Way. It still gives me chills.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Dare to be different.” My mom always says that. It’s good advice and I use it as a personal challenge. I think it is important to be something the world hasn’t already seen.

Harrison Reed is a physician assistant who practices emergency and critical care medicine. He is the Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and a regular blogger for the New England Journal of Medicine's Journal Watch. He currently lives and works in Baltimore, MD.

Building a More Satisfying Career as a Physician-Writer. Can Recruiters Help?

Sep 30, 2016 - Guest Author

This article was originally posted on Doximity TalentFinder's blog. You may view the original post here.

The culture of medicine today has led to the erosion of career satisfaction among physicians. Dissatisfaction comes from the gamut of physicians, young and old, male and female, family practitioners to cardiologists. In fact, burnout is more common among physicians than other workers throughout the country, but is career satisfaction something a physician recruiter can help with? Absolutely.

In an earlier article, physician on-the-job unhappiness: how physician recruiters can help, we wrote that physician burnout stems from multiple interrelated causes: excessive workload; loss of autonomy; administrative burdens and consequent inefficiencies; difficulties integrating personal and professional life; and more. Salary is primary discussion about job satisfaction, too, but salary is the tip of the iceberg. Kevin Pho, MD, says career satisfaction isn’t even about being liked, or being respected. The key to satisfaction is the “v” word – being valued. Interestingly enough, Dr. Pho is the leading physician voice in social media today, blogging at KevinMD.

Physicians don’t live by medicine alone. They have interests, passions, and pastimes outside of medicine that are engaging and satisfying – things that differ from their daily grind. Many write, and many who don’t write often ask us and physician recruiters about writing. Specifically, blogging.

John Mandrola, MD, who blogs at Dr. John M, wrote an article Six Reasons Why (I) Doctors Blog. Among his reasons: to educate, to better mankind, to give a look behind the curtain, to achieve useful information, and to display our humanness. A cardiologist, Dr. John M says, “I like to write about the paradox of being a heart doctor: Here we are every day using skills and technology to save people from a disease that could be prevented with simple lifestyle changes. As a cyclist, I have learned that success depends on making choices. It’s the same for being healthy. (Of course, both cycling and health also depend a bit on luck.)”

So could blogging be an uncommon cure for physician burnout? Bryan Vartabedian, MD, thinks so. A pediatrician at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children's Hospital and one of healthcare’s influential voices on technology and medicine, Dr. Vartabedian’s blog – 33 charts – is “a sandbox for his evolving ideas.” He is passionate about communication and believes it’s a critical part of how the world works today. He writes, “On some level, writing and making media should be seen as part of what we do as citizens of the Information Age. Not only is it how we’re understood, it’s how we’ll help others understand. Doctor means teacher.”

Anton Chekov, who may have crafted the first career as a physician-writer back in the 19th century and is arguably one of the most famous physician-writers, once wrote, “Medicine is my lawful wife and literature my mistress.” On the subject of writing, he also wrote: "To advise is not to compel." So if physician candidates are asking you about writing, consider pointing them to a blog. A great place to start is KevinMD, a platform for a lot of physician writers. Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, writes a blog called Seattle Mama Doc worth reviewing. There’s also a nice round-up of 59 top physician blogs worth reading worth sharing with candidates, too. Dr. Vartabedian also wrote this article your physician candidates might find helpful: 7 Reasons Every Doctor Should Write. Doximity’s blog also hosts many physician-written pieces (if your physician is interested in writing a blog, they can reach out to ali@doximity.com).

If it seems a little out of the realm of a physician recruiter to talk about writing with your candidates, let us remind you of something recruiting guru Lou Adler tells recruiters frequently: “You’re managing their life!” – career satisfaction included.

PA Week 2016: How this UNC Clinical Assistant Professor Stays Centered

We're kicking off National PA Week with Janelle Bludorn, the first PA in our "How I Work" series

Sep 30, 2016 - Guest Author

Janelle Bludorn is an Emergency Medicine PA. You can find her on Twitter @janellerblu.

Choose one word that best describes your work style:

Millennial. My work style is certainly that of my generation: innovation-seeking through technology utilization, multitasking, and collaboration.

What is your device of choice?

iPhone. I often refer to it as my peripheral brain.

Favorite apps & software?

The usual suspects: Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat. I’m not really a big Facebook user, comparatively. In terms of medical apps/web-based platforms, my favorites are Doximity and UpToDate. As a yogi, the MindBody app is a great tool to ensure I never miss my favorite vinyasa class.

How does Doximity help you in your work as a clinician?

As one of the very first physician assistant members of the Doximity community, I have grown accustomed to using it as my go-to source for discovering which topics are currently abuzz among my colleagues and then joining the discussion with some of the best and brightest medical minds. The new CME feature further incentives continuing using the platform in this way. Doximity also helps me to connect and communicate with my colleagues across the country in a simple and secure way, whether for patient care, professional development, or even just networking.

What’s your secret to staying productive?

Staying busy. It’s an odd phenomenon, but the more things I have on my plate, the more productive I tend to be. I think that this stems from my clinical work in emergency medicine; the more hectic the department, the more “on your game” you’ve got to be.

What do you wish you knew when you were a student?

Now that I have transitioned my primary role to medical educator, there are a lot of things I wish I would have known as a student! I think that the thing that has struck me the most is how much of myself I invest in my students and their education. This is certainly something that I wish I would have realized about my professors and preceptors while still in my training.

Who is your mentor?

I’ve been fortunate to have been surrounded by so many strong women in my life, many of whom I consider to be mentors. Professionally, two immediately come to mind: surgical physician assistant Gina Grossi and emergency medicine physician Leslie Milne. Both of these successful women balance a persona I strive to emulate, characterized by fierce independence, genuine empathy, sound clinical judgement, and ability to transform the clinical environment to a learning environment.

You started in a community health setting and have since moved to an academic one. For PAs who are looking to transition practice settings, what tips or advice would you have for them?

I’ve always believed that the lateral mobility afforded to physician assistants due to our generalist training is one of the most unique aspects of our medical profession. That being said, a PA can’t simply jump from a specialty or practice setting without preparation. You’ve got to set goals and then set yourself up for success. Create ambitious long term goals and achievable short term goals to help you along the way. Invest in yourself in terms of meaningful clinical experiences and continuing medical education to give you the exposure and experience needed for a transition. Lastly, never underestimate how far a little confidence can take you.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Since I’m usually woken by my dog, Roscoe, I’ll give him a little love and affection, then spend some time with my husband before we caffeinate and head out the door to start our work days at the University of North Carolina.

What’s the last thing you do before you go to sleep?

I know that the data says screentime before bedtime is a big no-no, but I can’t sleep unless I feel caught up on current events and happenings in the world of healthcare and medicine. Thus, my nightly rounds on Twitter and Doximity are usually what help me wind down before I turn in for the night.

How do you decompress?

A few years ago I discovered the power of mind-body techniques and meditation. Paired with my yoga practice, these tools have kept me grounded whether balancing life amidst busy urban emergency department shifts at Massachusetts General Hospital or making a career transition into medical education at UNC.

I can’t live without...

See answer to question #2.

What are you currently reading?

Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. It is an honest and eye-opening account of the degree to which our society has medicalized the end-of-life experience, creating an argument for clinicians, family, and friends to advocate for aging and dying with dignity.

Do you have a favorite song?

You know, I don’t have a single song that is my favorite. My musical preferences are quite diverse and ever-changing based on my mood. When I need to get work done, I turn on Brooklyn Duo; in times of pensiveness only Leonard Cohen will do; when I’m feeling determined or triumphant, I’ll opt for Beyonce.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

A wise physician once told me: “If you’re not learning something new every day, you’re probably not doing it right.” I’ve been able to apply this advice seamlessly to nearly any facet of life: education, clinical practice, and both personal and professional relationships.

Janelle Bludorn is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and practices clinically with the UNC Department of Emergency Medicine. You can find her on Twitter @janellerblu.

How I Work: This PA Preceptor’s Secret to Staying Productive

In our second PA Week "How I Work" post, family medicine PA Jeffrey Manese describes how he stays efficient while mentoring students.

Sep 29, 2016 - Guest Author

Jeffrey Manese is a Family Medicine PA at Sutter Health Pacific Medical Foundation. He is based in San Francisco, CA.

Choose one word that best describes your work style:

I have a conversational style practice.

What is your device of choice?

iPad or iPhone.

Favorite apps & software?

Probably my iBooks and Pandora.

How does Doximity help you in your work as a clinician?

Doximity helps keeps me informed of new issues or topics that pertain to my type of practice.

What’s your secret to staying productive?

Keeping a positive attitude.

What do you wish you knew when you were a student?

Tricky question, probably how to navigate insurance related issue.

As someone who is heavily involved with precepting, how do you recommend students to find preceptors?

I ask students and mentors to interview each other, to look at their style of practice, population they work in or want to work in, past experiences, and expectations. I refer potential students to AAPA, CAPA, and SFBPA for potential mentors. An app like Doximity is another tool that can be used to help connect with clinicians for potential rotation sites.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Coffee ️:)

What’s the last thing you do before you go to sleep?

Usually watch Netflix or reading sci-fi novel.

How do you decompress?


I can’t live without...

My iPad and my headphones.

What are you currently reading?

Sci-fi books, but usually no particular author.

Do you have a favorite song?

No favorite song but love a good beat.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

To find a job that you can enjoy and like, no matter what that job may be.

Jeffrey Manese is currently a Family Medicine PA at Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation in San Francisco, CA, and an adjunct professor & clinical preceptor at Samuel Merritt College in Oakland, CA. Manese completed his PA Training at Stanford University.

Apple Lists Doximity as a Top App for Healthcare Professionals

Sep 27, 2016 - Doximity Blog

We're proud to be featured as a top app for physicians and healthcare professionals by Apple, as reported by MobiHealthNews. Here are some of the clever ways physicians have used the Doximity app:

Staying up to date

"Doximity is an easy way to get credible medical news. It helps me stay up to date on the latest current events in medicine. As a physician, it is important to stay up to date on the latest news in health care in order to educate patients the best you can." Mary Ella Wood

Patient education

"I have had several experiences when I've quoted a study for a patient who has requested the specific data relevant to that study. It is so easy and quick to log on to Doximity, head to DocNews, find the study, and give the patient a reprint of the data. The recent study I quoted above comes to mind, as I've referenced the LEAP study to numerous parents, patients, teachers, health and school administrators. Running cases by physicians in the past has been very helpful, and the Doximity community makes that easier." Joshua Davidson, MD

HIPAA-secure texting

"I have been able to directly and securely send x-rays, wound images etc. to my cardiothoracic colleagues so that decisions can be made quickly and easily, avoiding unnecessary delay or travel. Almost on a daily basis, I use the messaging or fax features to transmit PHI to colleagues locally as well as across California and sometimes in other states. I like not having to worry about security and HIPAA-compliance. Every time an ECG gets faxed to Doximity, my life is infinitely easier than it was pre-Doximity. I have started carrying my Android device on call so that I can attach a date and signature to results immediately." Greg Kurio, MD

Free efax number

"Getting patients ready for the operating room, often involves documentation and investigation of primary care preoperative screening and lab results. As I work at a major medical center, we often must obtain results done remotely. The fax application of Doximity has been extremely useful for continuity, allowing documentation to be gathered in secure fashion, directly to me. This has expedited getting patients to the operating room in numerous instances." Genevieve Sweet, MD

Connecting with former classmates and mentors

"Prior to entering medical school in the Fall of 2013, I served as an Emergency Room scribe in a Northern Virginia Hospital. The physicians with whom I worked shaped my perception and desire to enter the medical field. While applying to medical school, I was offered a position in the charter class at the Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University and jumped at the opportunity to shape the reputation and culture of a new school. I have worked extensively interviewing applicants for subsequent classes, attending local and national conferences, and creating promotional materials for prospective students and the public to view. Doximity allows me to unite all of these aspects of my life: the physicians that I scribed for, the students whom I admitted, and my current classmates, professors, and clerkship directors can all establish a profile on this site. I am forever grateful to Doximity for allowing me to both network and keep in touch with past mentors, all without leaving the comfort of my laptop." Venkat Subramanyam

Finding the right specialist for a referral

"When I finished my fellowship, I started practice in a large regional hospital system in a different county. I often get palliative medicine consult request for patients who would be better managed by a PM&R specialist, but I didn't know anyone at in the new hospital system - until I came across the name of one doctor on Doximity and added her as a colleague. The next time I needed a PM&R doc, I knew who to call. Since then, I have suggested her for several more patients and have shared her contact info with my palliative medicine colleagues." Ilana Newman, MD

Researching residency programs

"Choosing a location to pursue my Internal Medicine residency could have been incredibly daunting without the aid of the Doximity Residency Navigator. As a medical student from a state school in the South, I planned to use residency as an opportunity to study medicine in a different part of the country. With the help of Doximity I was able to view a ranked list of many medical schools I had never heard of or considered. The result is what I believe to be a perfect match that would not have been possible otherwise." Camille Robichaux, MD

Finding a job and comparing salaries

"I am in the process of searching for jobs and I did not have any ideas about what is the base salary in different parts of the country. Using Doximity, I was able to identify the areas of the countries that I want to live in and have the base salary that I am looking for. Although this information is available on the internet, it is very scattered, disorganized, and most of the time is misleading. Doximity definitely made my life easier in this regard." Aziz Nazha, MD

4 Things You Probably Didn’t Know Doximity Residency Navigator Could Do…

Sep 19, 2016 - Guest Author

This is article comes from fourth year medical student, Irene Lainiotis. You may view the original article on Medium.

Welcome to fourth year. I’ve heard some deem it a completely unnecessary year of medical school or the most expensive, year long vacation that we will ever take. Maybe that’s all true — after you manage to be the perfect balance of calm and persistent to make sure your letter writers submit on time, try to squeeze details of four years of work into ERAS boxes, interview, and rank your programs.

For the first three years of medical school, I, along with thousands of others, scoured online forums trying to track down the perfect Step 1 strategy, which books I needed to read for a NBME shelf exams and what hotels wouldn’t break the student budget for Step 2CS. But I needed something a little more reliable than just the word of hundreds of anonymous medical students. I was finally applying for residency! And there was no room for unnecessary panic attacks (though these definitely still found their way in), or reading through thousands of posted comments to find what I was looking for. I wanted something concise, accurate and easy to use — enter the Doximity Residency Navigator. While no tool is perfect, Residency Navigator provided me with a quick, transparent look into the various programs out there. Here are a few of my favorite features:

1. Location, Location, Location

Those real estate agents were onto something with this one! One of the easiest ways to start your search is deciding where you would like to be for the next 3, 4, 5… years of your life.
To get started, simply input your specialty and then search by either state or region.

2. It lets you get specific

If you have an idea of what type of clinical training experience you’re looking for, you need a tool that will let you get specific. Family medicine in a rural community? Emergency medicine in a large urban setting? Want to make sure there is a pediatric hospital? Consider it done!

Are you the future pediatric surgeon? Interventional Cardiologist? Advanced endoscopist? Residency Navigator allows you to search for programs based on your intended fellowship.

3. The Ultimate Cheat Sheet

In an ode to one of my favorite Zac Brown Band songs, “I’ve got everything I need and nothing that I don’t” — and it’s all on one page. Each program’s residency page gives you the residency search equivalent of vitals: the total number of spots filled, percentages for board pass rates and those who go on to subspecialties, and how involved the alumni are in research and clinical trials. The page will also give you a breakdown of which sites you’ll be working at, along with the program director’s contact information.
This one is for the aforementioned future pediatric surgeons, interventional cardiologists, and advanced endoscopists — if you’re set on fellowship, it will break down what percentage of alumni go into what fields.

The Navigator even tells you the top feeder medical schools! I loved this feature because it helped me assess where students with similar educations to me went and were successful in residency. Alumni leave comments and rank their experience as well — the ultimate replacement for scrolling through thousands of anonymous comments on forums to hear opinions.

But there’s one feature that makes this unlike any other tool…

4. Get connected

Medicine finally has a medium where physicians at all levels of training can connect with one another — all seamlessly linked to the residency search process.

The Navigator lets you connect directly with current residents and alumni. Some programs even have an updated “Current Residents” section with links to their personal Doximity profiles. This is the virtual version of the pre-interview dinner!

There you have it — my breakdown of one of my essential residency search tools. I hope you find this tool as helpful as I did, and if it wards off at least one panic attack, I think we can all agree it’s worth it. Good luck fellow fourth years!

Irene Lainiotis is currently a fourth year medical student at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, interested in Internal Medicine. She is originally from Massapequa Park, NY but completed her B.S degree from James Madison University, double majoring in Biology and Public Policy & Administration. Outside of medicine, Irene enjoys working
out, cooking, and spending time with her family, friends and puppy.

How I Chose My Residency, with Help from an App

Sep 15, 2016 - Guest Author

This post comes from Dr. Steven Gangloff, current resident at University of Pittsburgh (UPMC). You may view the original article on Medium.

It’s the beginning of September, which means fourth-year medical students across the world are all buzzing about one thing: residency applications. The feelings of stress and excitement are still fresh in my mind, as I wore these shoes just one year ago. I still remember being inundated with the task of weighing pros and cons between hundreds of residency programs throughout the country to choose my perfect fit. This time, after all, would mark one of the greatest turning points in my career as I had to select the potential training that would ultimately sculpt me into the type of physician I have spent my life striving to become!

Help with the Application

It was early September, and my application was complete, polished to perfection, and quadruple checked for spelling and grammatical errors. I felt prepared, and at the same time hopelessly unprepared. For me, I had poured so much time and thought into deciding which field of medicine in which I wanted to train that when it came time to decide where to train and live for 4 or more years, I was at a loss. It seemed that just as one weight was lifted off my shoulders, I was faced with a new equally important and stressful life-changing decision. When the system finally opened I found before me a massive list of programs all throughout the country, and it was my job to select the ones to which I should apply. I found myself swimming in a whirlpool of questions. Where do I want to live? How important are program clout and name recognition? If a program is “strong” overall, does that mean it is strong in my area of interest? What fellowships do they offer? Where did the residents come from, and where did they go after graduating? I knew that I had a lot of work to do.

I essentially started from the first program on the list, explored their website, and continued forward. Quite honestly, the average university website is a non-objective display of accolades, which makes any program look like the obvious best choice. Program A has the number 1 stroke center in the tri-state area, but Program B has the best patient satisfaction in stroke in that same area? Immediately I could see that this strategy was not going to work.

This is when I thought to use the Doximity Residency Navigator. I had been a Doximity member and used Doximity quite a bit for articles and networking, and when I learned about the tool I decided it was worth a look. I soon found the Residency Navigator tool to be invaluable, as it helped construct the framework for my application strategy and played a big role in my decisions down the road.

When you open the tool, either on your computer or the convenient Doximity app, you are greeted with a menu to select your specialty of choice, and other ranking criteria such as reputation and research output. Doximity collected input from over 52,000 US physicians through their nomination and residency satisfaction surveys, modeled after the US News Best Hospital survey. They combine this with an alumni outcome analysis based on CVs and career paths, research citation h-index, and other parameters to compute and organize a list based on your specifications!

I knew from the beginning that I more than likely wanted to train in the Northeast to be closer to my family. By selecting for these parameters I already had a crafted starting point of programs to consider. Once you have this starting point, you can explore deeper by selecting programs of interest, and the tool will provide further information and pertinent statistics including board pass rates, research publication rate, feeder schools, and more. I often referred to the data on where alumni from each program went for further training post-residency and what they subspecialized in. This saved a massive amount of time over the alternative, which would be scouring each website and tabulating these numbers myself. It is beneficial to know, for instance, that 70% of people who subspecialize from University X go into critical care, as this comments to the strength of the teaching in this area. Even further, there are helpful satisfaction scores and reviews for each program completed by these same alumni and current residents.

What I found very interesting, is that sometimes certain programs are known to be particularly strong or weak in a given field, which would be hard to know prior, and could not be easily parsed by intuition. This reputation sort order did not serve as a strict guideline, but rather as an aid in brainstorming by allowing me to give thought to programs I otherwise would not have considered, based on carefully selected and objective data. This allowed me to construct my initial program application list on the scaffolding of the Doximity’s Residency Navigator.

I was able to submit my application with confidence that I chose a good and balanced set of programs based on aspects that were important to me. From then, it was time to relax and wait for the interviews to roll in.

Help with the Match

After the entire 4-month interview process is over, students must then rank the programs at which they interviewed from favorite to least favorite. I was fortunate to interview at a lot of the programs to which I applied, and thanks to having a well-crafted tool to help me select programs that would be good for me, I ended up enjoying every program at which I interviewed. This was bittersweet, as it meant I would have to rank a lot of programs I liked lower on my list!

Throughout interview season, the Residency Navigator was my constant companion. From this point, I used to tool to remind myself of aspects about various programs, used its information to help craft questions for my interviewers, and referenced the tool often to find contact information for program directors, coordinators, and residents.

When it came time to construct my list, I used Residency Navigator to help refresh my memory of the residents and directors I met, and the things the program offered, I reviewed some of the statistics and data that were important to me, and then I combined that with my overall impressions from the interview day itself to make my ranking.

All in all, the Residency Navigator truly helped me pick the residency program that was right for me. It appears as well that I wasn’t alone, as 75% of medical students last season were reported to have used this tool to aid in their application process! I’m grateful to have had such an information-packed and easy-to-use tool at my fingertips through one of the hardest decisions of my career thus far! Now, if we could just get a Fellowship Navigator…

Steven was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, where he completed his medical degree. He is currently a medical resident of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In addition to patient care, he has interests in bioinformatics and the roles technology play in quality improvement and healthcare.

This is How a Clinical Vice Chair of Neurosurgery Works...

In our first "This Is How I Work" series, find out how this DJ-turned-neurosurgeon stays productive

Sep 14, 2016 - Doximity Blog

Dr. Oren Gottfried is Clinical Vice Chair and Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at Duke University School of Medicine. You can follow Dr. Gottfried on Twitter: @OGdukeneurosurg

Choose one word that best describes your work style

Effective. I aim to be productive, efficient, thoughtful, and caring with every effort.

What is your device of choice?

iPhone. If a task can be achieved on my phone, I will find a way.

Favorite apps & software?

For social media, I use Facebook,Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

I read the Doximity app for its featured articles and to look at my call schedule. The articles are very relevant to my neurosurgery practice. I read the PubMed app for original clinical and research articles and references.

What’s your secret to staying productive?

I am constantly setting daily and long term goals and work hard to accomplish all of them in the most efficient and efficacious fashion.Taking care of patients motivates me to be very effective. I do everything in my power to provide excellent care to my patients, and the rewards of these interactions and interventions keep me going.

What do you wish you knew when you were younger?

I wish I had the skills and wisdom of experience at an earlier age. I could achieve more in life skipping all of the standard learning curves. Saying that, I would never give up the journey and being a lifelong learner.

Who is your mentor?

In residency, fellowship, and generally, at every stage of my education and clinical practice, I have had the fortune to have multiple mentors to inspire and encourage me to be the best that I can be. I live by the motto “Everyone has something to teach me,” and I try to learn from every person I encounter.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

I spend time with my family. Next, I usually check into the electronic health record portal on my phone to answer any questions or concerns from my patients.

What’s the last thing you do before you go to sleep?

Similarly, I check on my patients one final time for any concerns or questions or new test results. I also read the news, articles about current events, and med tech articles before I go to bed.

How do you decompress?

I enjoy spending quality time with my three children. I like doing athletic activities with them and reading to them. I particularly enjoy entertaining them with elaborate fictional stories I create nightly.

Also, I have an additional role outside of my main one as a neurosurgeon at Duke University: I work on multiple TV shows. It provides great balance in my​ life, and I find it very relaxing. It also allows me to use my medical knowledge creatively to make TV more accurate and sometimes even more entertaining.

I can’t live without...

Communication... just being connected. I’ve given out my cell phone to patients for over 10 years, and I like being there for my patients whenever they need some help. Taking a short call when someone is in need and just being available can really make a difference and can improve quality of care.

What are you currently reading?

I am constantly reading the neurosurgery and medical literature for improving clinical care and quality, for my outcomes research, and even for a good TV story. I enjoy reading nonfiction as well.

What’s your favorite book?

I enjoy books about understanding the art and practice of medicine.

Do you have a favorite song?

I used to be a DJ. I play the violin as well, and I have very wide musical interests. I listen to and am moved by practically all genres of music. I have different favorites based on different circumstances, such as operating versus exercising.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Early in life, I was told to try to learn something from everyone I met. I try to learn a skill, fact, or lesson from each and every conversation or interaction.

Resident Physicians Might Not Be Underpaid After All. Here’s Why

Are residents actually underpaid? Here's what the numbers say.

Sep 12, 2016 - Guest Author

This article is contributed by Dr. Griffin Myers, Doximity Fellow, board certified physician and entrepreneur

Residency is hard. Really hard. In fact, I completely underestimated how hard it would be. My sweet wife loves to remind me that she didn’t think I’d be able to finish it for the first 2 years. And, honestly, I thought the same.

Because it’s hard, it’s common for residents to complain about it together. We all did. We sat around the resident lounge and commiserated by complaining together. We built great friendships, learned medicine, and cared for a great group of folks together. We also all agreed we were underpaid. Now that I’m a few years out of that formative experience, I want to revisit this touchy topic. Are residents actually underpaid?

The Truth Behind Residency Pay

Last week I met a resident at a local training program here in Chicago who told me, “I’m a highly educated doctor, and I make less than minimum wage!” I had heard that before, but could it possibly be true? Here’s what the numbers say.

The national minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. The highest state minimum wage isn’t from a state at all; it comes to us from the District of Columbia at $11.50. There are higher minimum wages in some cities, but they’re almost definitionally exceptions. If you want to see the minimum wage in your state, you can find state data here.

Those are hourly wages, but, remember, residents aren’t paid by the hour. They’re paid a salary. In fact, they’re paid via a very specific process within Medicare regulations. Salaries are based on seniority, specialty, and location/cost of living. Thankfully, we have really good data on this. In fact, the American Association of Medical Colleges publishes a report every year with exact numbers. Here’s a quick breakdown: last year, the average first-year salary (i.e. lowest year) was $51,586. The middle half of all residents had a salary between $49,396 and $53,273. (Not a lot of variation.) For the same year, the Social Security Administration reports the average salary nationally for everyone was $46,481. So, major point here: residents made a full 10% more than the average American.

I know the next part of the argument, though: “Residents work so many more hours that their wages must be below minimum wage.”

Let’s look at that. A few years back the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the group that accredits residency programs, put a new 80-hour work week rule in place. It’s pretty simple: residents can’t work more than 80 hours per week, or the program gets in trouble. (For neurosurgery residents it’s 88.) Here are two things important to note: (1) Nearly every resident you ever talk with will tell you that they break the rule. (2) Very few programs have ever been shut down for violating this rule.

Trust me, when you’re doing a residency, it feels like you’re breaking the rule. In fact, if you’re reading this during your residency, you might be thinking right now: “I know I’m over the limit!” In truth, statistically, you probably aren’t. Remember, it’s not one week over 80 that counts; it’s an average over a period of time. You can come up with occasional weeks that push past 80, sure. But, overall, you likely aren’t averaging over 80 hours.

For argument’s sake, let’s say residents work that full 80 hours every week for an entire year. With an average salary of $51,586 divided by 80 hours per week for 48 weeks (4 weeks vacation being standard in residencies), the hourly wage becomes $13.43.

I’ll admit, as a physician that feels low. If you compare that to the long list of hourly wages published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that puts residents just above “Driver/Sales Workers” at $13.41 and just below “Grounds Maintenance Workers” at $13.50. There are obviously differences in education and skill level, but, another major point: that is absolutely not below minimum wage.

But is that the whole story? Not at all. In fact, if you look up “physicians” on that same list, you’ll find the average hourly wage to be $97.33. That’s right: finish your residency, and you get a whopping 624% raise. That logic leads you to believe that up to $89.30 per hour of a resident’s compensation comes in the form of training and education. It’s not green money, but it’s real. And pretty soon it becomes green money, assuming you finish the residency program.

Important Factors in the Compensation Equation

Residency makes for a long, long runway to higher compensation ahead. But you don’t do a residency for the money; you do it for the training and the future value of that training. In other words, it’s an investment today to make more money tomorrow. Feels weird not to include that in the compensation equation.

I know this might be tough for a resident to read after another grueling day, but taking care of patients is an incredible honor. That skill and daily privilege is worth something. In fact, I think it’s worth a lot. Can you pay the rent with that honor? No, but if you discount it entirely or say it’s not worth anything, well, you may need less help with economics and more help from a career advisor.

Dr. Griffin Myers is a board certified emergency physician, entrepreneur, and nationally recognized thought leader in healthcare innovation and value-based care. His writings do not substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. No patient relationship is created by your use of this content. You can follow him on Twitter @griffinrmyers and find this and other media at his website: www.griffinmyers.com.