Tell us about which medical school you attended and why it made the top of your list:
For medical school, I went to UNC-Chapel Hill. It was an easy choice as it was close to home, offering great value, and the education was world-class. The only tough part was swallowing my pride as an NC State fan and going to the rival school of my alma mater to study medicine.
Where did you complete your residency? How/Why did you end up choosing that location?
I completed my residency at Carolinas Medical Center (Atrium Health) in Charlotte. I grew up here, my folks still live close by, and this was where I fell in love with emergency medicine as a medical student. The leadership at CMC was tremendous and my co-residents quickly became my family. I’m thrilled to work just down the street from where I trained!
Tell us more about how you came to choose the field of medicine?
Since high school, I knew I wanted to go into medicine. We didn’t have any doctors in our family and the plan was always to go into engineering until I took a medical science class as a junior that was actually taught by a former nurse at Presbyterian. During the course, she constantly challenged and inspired me, and I have her to thank for igniting that “spark” that really got me excited about medicine.
What about becoming a physician was attractive?
As a kid, I always revered our family doctor who I looked to as a role model, consistently a source of knowledge and wisdom. I always thought the doctor-patient relationship was fascinating and the idea of being a leader and life-long learner is truly captivating.
The medical field gives us the opportunity to channel your inner science nerd all while having a direct and tangible impact on someone who needs your help.
How did you choose Emergency Medicine as your specialty?
A wise man once shared, “Emergency medicine was basically the most exciting 15 minutes of every other specialty put together.” Another preached the mantra of caring for “anyone, any time, no matter who they are or where they come from.” The opportunity we have, every day, to be there for a patient when they are at their most vulnerable is incredibly gratifying, and I think that’s what keeps most of us coming back for more every day.
What do you enjoy most about your day to day practice?
I love the fact that I never know what is coming next. I could be stitching up a simple laceration one minute, and the next minute running to the resuscitation bay to see a sick trauma patient, cardiac arrest, or mom in precipitous labor. This job always keeps you on your toes.
What led you to practice with MEMA?
In my mind, MEMA is the complete package. A chance to work in a democratic group of like-minded individuals, in a city I love, across a well-staffed hospital system…hard to pass that up! When I interviewed with the group, I met plenty of folks that told me this was their first job out of residency and they couldn’t be happier. Especially in the current landscape of a global pandemic, it feels good to be in a group that genuinely looks out for one another.
Has there been one patient, staff member, or caregiver story that has stuck with you?
Probably one of my most poignant patient interactions occurred at the beginning of my third year of residency. A middle-aged woman had come in via ambulance with sudden onset respiratory distress. Her heart rate was through the roof and her oxygen saturations were failing to improve significantly on nonrebreather. What few words she was able to get out were the last ones any ER doc wants to hear, “I think I’m going to die.” Her sister shared with me her recent diagnosis of ovarian cancer, and my suspicion was high for pulmonary embolism. I did a quick bedside ultrasound that showed a large, strained right ventricle. There was no way that she was safe for a CT scan, so I confirmed there were no contraindications to thrombolysis and gave her tPA. She went to the ICU shortly after and I was able to check on her at the end of my shift. She was on a few liters of nasal cannula and speaking in full sentences. We sat and talked, she thanked me, and I got to meet the rest of her family. She was out of the ICU the next day. I still think of her when I need to draw upon a positive experience.
What are some of the biggest challenges of your practice, for a clinician practicing in the emergency department?
I think the biggest challenge that we are all facing currently is battling the pandemic of our lifetime. COVID-19 has changed just about every facet of our job, and our reaction to this crisis has us in the limelight. The risk we assume every day of contracting the virus is real, and it can be challenging to know which of your undifferentiated patients will come back positive. On the other hand, I think this challenge affords us the opportunity to demonstrate our ability as leaders and help educate and heal our communities as emergency physicians. In many ways, I feel we are the most prepared to assume this role.
Are you a member of any associations, societies, or organizations?
Yes! I’m a member of ACEP, SAEM, the American Institute for Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM).
I am also a member of the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS). WMS is a unique society whose mission is to encourage, foster, support, or conduct activities to improve the scientific knowledge of the membership and general public in human health activities in a wilderness environment.
Have you received any awards or been recognized by your peers? If so, tell us about it!
Recently I was recognized, along with one of my former co-residents and one of our paramedics, for developing an “intubation hood” to protect healthcare staff from exposure to aerosolized particles during certain procedures, such as intubation and CPR. This device more or less boiled down to PVC pipe, a clear plastic sheet, and some tape, but it allowed us to help keep each other safe during procedures without sacrificing ergonomics or speed of performing intubation. It was affectionately known as the “Tube Tent” on the first iteration, but eventually, we decided that the “AeroTent” sounded slightly more marketable to the rest of the hospital.
What was your dream job when you were a child?
Like many 90’s kids, my dream was to be an astronaut. Getting to see Earth from outer space is something I’ve always imagined to be absolutely fascinating. Who knows, with the advances in commercial space flight in the next few years, maybe it’ll still be a possibility one day!
What about Charlotte excites you?
Charlotte is a city that is growing at the speed of light. In many ways, I think it is a “young” city in terms of its culture, and frankly is still trying to establish a true identity and define itself as part of the New South. With so many young people moving here from all over the country, I think we gain a larger variety of perspectives and backgrounds that makes us unique from other southern cities. I grew up just south of Charlotte in Waxhaw and seeing that town explode in the last decade is truly a testament to the overall trajectory of the region. I’m excited to be a part of it and watch the city continue to grow!
Do you have any hobbies, interests, secret powers that are unique to you?
No secret powers that I’ve discovered yet, but primary interests outside the hospital include hacking up the local golf courses, traveling to new and exciting places, cooking, trout fishing, mountain biking, beach volleyball, playing guitar, hiking, trying to keep my house plants alive, and yelling at the TV for the Wolfpack, Panthers, or Hornets games. I’ve been dying to pick up sailing as well, so keep an eye out for me if you find yourself on Lake Norman!