NAME: Callie Burgin
RESIDENCY MATCH: Indiana University School of Medicine
REACTION: “I think the word is ‘elated.’ I’m looking forward to continuing to learn the specialty that I already love so much.”
Determination in dermatology
The patient had visited the dermatology clinic at Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital after noticing a spot on his cheek. Callie Burgin, then a third-year medical student at Indiana University School of Medicine, looked it over and determined there was no need for alarm.
But with the gentleman already there, Burgin took the opportunity to conduct a more thorough skin cancer screening. She asked him to take off his hat. “On the top of his head he had a mole that looked abnormal,” said Burgin. “At that stage, I didn’t even know how to describe why it looked abnormal, but it was bad.”
The patient was diagnosed with melanoma in situ. While melanoma is an aggressive cancer, catching it at such an early stage meant his prognosis was good. And Burgin had played a part in that.
For Burgin, this was just one experience in a month-long dermatology elective that introduced her to a wide range of patients and pathologies and cemented her decision to pursue a career in the field.
“For me, dermatology is the perfect specialty,” she said. “It lets you do hands-on procedures as well as a lot of medicine. The patients that you see, they’re all ages, and they have a wide variety of disease processes going on – from the routine to the very complicated. Every day is different.”
Burgin is now one step closer to realizing her dream of becoming a dermatologist. On Match Day, she learned that she matched to her first choice and will remain at IU School of Medicine for her residency training.
A love of science
Burgin grew up in the small town of Marysville, Indiana, the daughter of a farmer and high school teacher. Science beckoned her from an early age. In high school, she participated in the Molecular Medicine in Action program with the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research at IU School of Medicine.
While earning her undergraduate degree at Purdue, she spent two years working for a pancreatic cancer researcher and returned to IU School of Medicine for a summer of undergraduate research. She seemed destined for a career in the lab. Then she shadowed a physician at IU. “It was instantaneous. ‘This is what I want to do,'” she remembers thinking.
Finding mentors at IU
While the prospect of starting residency is always a bit daunting, Burgin feels confident that her time at IU School of Medicine has prepared her. Certainly, she’s already had a wide array of clinical experiences.
During her dermatology elective alone, Burgin experienced multiple different settings and cases. “We have the academic center at University Hospital where you see all the tertiary referrals from around the state,” she said. “We have the VA where you get tons of experience with cutaneous oncology.” Add to that Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital, the county’s safety net hospital, and Burgin isn’t sure there is another medical school in the country that can rival IU when it comes to diversity of clinical exposure.
Burgin also found mentors who encouraged and coached her. She recalls Stephen E. Wolverton, MD, putting forward an invitation: “If you need a mentor, I’ll happily be your mentor,” he told her. “I felt comfortable asking him anything,” Burgin said.
Elizabeth A. Bryant, MD, encouraged Burgin and other students to become part of the patient care team, and not simply to watch. And she provided Callie guidance during the residency application process. Lawrence A. Mark, MD, PhD, showed her what it means to develop meaningful relationships with patients. “I loved working with him because his patients uniformly loved him,” Burgin said.
Soon, it will be Burgin’s turn to put what she has learned to use as a dermatology resident. It’s an opportunity she savors. “It feels fantastic to know that I’m finally going to be starting to do what I’ve studied all this time to do,” she said.