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Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending

Surgery Residents

By: Brianne Nickel

Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.  –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As we barrel towards the last days of June, the campus buzzing with the arrival of new interns and the farewells of chief residents and senior fellows, it seems to me that Longfellow’s words are perfect for this moment.

Great is the art of beginning.  As we make our way through the second to last week of June 300+ interns begin their first adventure into their formal specialty training post medical school.  Four years of clinical rotations, basic science classes, away rotations, and interviews have lead them here to Indiana University.  Short white jackets exchanged for long, pristine white coats with pockets for days.  A crisp MD or DO stitched at the end of each physician’s name.

New interns can remind anyone of their first day on a job.  They seem timid at times with their questions, yet instantly relieved when you encourage them to ask.  They want to do well.  We know we have the tools, the teachers, and the facilities to train them well.  While they are excited to start – we are excited to see what they can do.  We are excited to see them grow, learn, and succeed.

As I begin my seventh year with IUSM Surgery, it’s fascinating for me to watch the senior residents transition to their first day of Chief Year.  I remember the looks on each of their faces during intern orientation.  There was a lot of information bestowed upon them during that week.  Their excitement almost drowned out the low hum of nervousness as each orientation day passed brought them one day closer to hitting the wards.  “It’s ok to be nervous,” I told them.  “Being nervous means you understand the importance of the journey you’re starting.”

But greater is the art of ending.  Bittersweet it is, to be orienting twenty-four general, plastic, vascular, and cardiothoracic interns the week we say goodbye to our graduates.  What our chiefs in the four residency programs we have here at IUSM Surgery have accomplished in their 5-7 years of training has enhanced the legacy of our IUSM Surgery programs.

  • For Drs. Nosrati and Sasor, they were the first two integrated plastic surgery residents that went through the NRMP Match, landed at IUSM Surgery, and completed each of their training years with Plastic Surgery.  Both off to hand surgery fellowships at UCLA and University of Michigan both have 24 publications between them, and several presentation awards in their 6 years here.
  • Dr. Vardas was also the first graduate of our cardiothoracic surgery residency program.  The odds stacked against Dr. Vardas as an ECFMG applicant, he landed in our integrated cardiothoracic surgery residency program and began paving the way for residents to follow his lead in publishing, presenting, and leadership both locally and nationally within various cardiothoracic organizations from the first day.  He is listed an author on 5 book chapters and 10 publications during his time here.  After a fellowship year focusing on cardiac procedures at Northwestern, Dr. Vardas will be joining University of Alabama-Birmingham as a faculty member.
  • Dr. Serafin, our vascular surgery residency graduate, will be able to take her skills she cultivated here in as a top resident educator at IUSM Surgery back to her home state of Illinois, ready to teach medical students from the same medical school she graduated.
  • Our largest class of graduates – 10 general surgeons – are equally an impressive bunch.  Three of them acquired secondary graduate degrees while in residency.  Dr. Gracon achieved a Master of Science in Translational Sciences, and Drs. Salfity and Murthy achieved a Master of Public Health degree.  Eight of the 10 graduates are going into top fellowships around the country.  Drs. Rosati, Salfity, and Valsangkar found their way into cardiothoracic surgery by way of University of Michigan, Duke University, and Emory University.  Drs. Gracon and Ramanathan matched at transplant surgery at University of Wisconsin and University of Minnesota.  Dr. Murthy will pave her path in surgical oncology at Temple University.  Dr. McDuffie will remain with us at Indiana University to continue his training in pediatric surgery, while Dr. Zeichen will chart her way in colon rectal surgery with Cleveland Clinic in Florida.  Dr. Maestas found her dream job back in her home state of New Mexico.  Dr. Mong, our first osteopathic physician graduate in general surgery, will be joining the IUSM Surgery Faculty cohort in August.

These graduates have enhanced the legacy of IUSM Surgery.  Adding to the foundation built by those who came before them, they are proof that residency is what you make of it and the opportunities during training are theirs for the taking.  Our graduates are stars to steer by for our not only our new interns, but their current peers they leave behind who may have similar goals for research, fellowship, and  future careers.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

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