Get to know MEMA Physician, Katie Golden, MD


Why did you choose the University of Pennsylvania for medical school?

On the interview trail, UPenn stood out to me as a school with soul and a supportive, talented community. True to the field of emergency medicine, I am an instinctual decision maker, and I sensed a very positive and inspiring environment on my UPenn interview day. My four years at Penn lived up to my first impression – I loved my class, professors, and educational experience. It was a school that fostered community instead of competition, and medicine needs more of that.

Why did you choose Harvard University for residency?

Even after a fantastic four years at UPenn, I was ready to leave Philadelphia and get back to Boston (I am a New England girl and Patriots fan after all!). As is true for many medical school graduates, I still didn’t know the ultimate direction of my emergency medicine career, and I chose the Harvard affiliated program to keep my professional options open. I wanted a residency experience that would expose me to forward, innovative thinkers in our field that represented a diversity of research interests and a city where I could root for my favorite sports team without being the most hated person at the bar.

Tell us more about how you came to choose the field of medicine?

I was a late bloomer and chose medicine in the latter half of my college career. I always had a mind for math and science, but quickly learned that a research-based career felt isolating. The intersection between science and the human connection leaves only a few obvious options (Medicine or anthropology, namely) and I didn’t have a strong interest in traveling to Africa, like most anthropologists, so medicine was an easy choice.

What about becoming a physician was attractive?

The challenge. That may sound trite, but the training requires discipline, commitment, and intelligence. I selfishly choose a career that I know would maximize my strengths and be hard to achieve. I wish I could say that my primary goal was to help people, but I think there are a lot of careers out there where you can help people. A career needs to be gratifying for it to inspire success.

How did you choose Emergency Medicine as your specialty?

Emergency medicine was an unexpected choice for me. Like a lot of college athletes, I thought I was destined for a surgical specialty. We like the tough culture and performance-oriented fields. After rotating through the emergency department, however, I realized that emergency medicine was way more like athletics than any surgery rotation. It requires teamwork, quick thinking, and courage. And seemed to have a lot more humor and humanism than other specialties. After a few weeks, I looked around at the staff and realized, ‘these are my people.’

What do you enjoy most about your day to day practice?

The teamwork with my colleagues. The emergency department is a dynamic, high-stress environment, but when you are surrounded by the right people with a similar drive to both take care of patients and each other, it feels incredibly powerful.

What led you to practice with MEMA?

There are very few private democratic groups of emergency medicine physicians, and they function much more like a team than other employment models. I didn’t want to feel like I was just showing up to a shift, working my hours, and going home. I wanted to feel like I was contributing to a collective group.

Has there been one patient, staff member, or caregiver story that has stuck with you during your MEMA tenure?

I think it is easy to find inspiration from my colleagues and patients every day. Given the environment we work in, I always look for examples of people handling stress, pain, and tough moments with grace. I can think of nurses that always have a smile on their face, fellow physicians who never seem to get flustered, and patients who can receive bad news and still make a joke and express gratitude. Those moments surround us every day and are very humbling.

Are you a member of any associations, societies, or organizations?

I do freelance medical writing, so I am a member of the American Medical Writer’s Association along with the American College of Emergency Physicians.

What about Charlotte excites you?

I moved to Charlotte three years ago, and really love living here. It is a young, rapidly growing city, and I love the way its residents are actively engaged in how the city develops. There is a lot of energy in this city – I love to watch it change.

What are your interests outside of work?

I am a writer, both personally and professionally. I write for a research institute at MIT that does biomedical research, but I also do a lot of my own creative writing work. Beyond that, I like to stay physically active with a steady rotation of running, yoga, and ballet classes. I also love exploring the restaurant and bar scene in Charlotte, so on a night off I am typically out enjoying the city.

What is next in your Netflix queue?

I love WWII documentaries.

Do you have any Hobbies, interests, secret powers that are unique to you?

I think I have mentioned most of them by now (hobbies, not secret powers). Writing. WWII novels. Football season. Running. Food and wine. Modern art. Poetry. And naps. I love naps.