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<p>The Department of Surgery places a strong emphasis on education for medical students, residents and fellows. The medical knowledge and development that occurs within the department stems from a defined curriculum, dedicated faculty and an environment for optimal care for adult and pediatric patient care.</p>

IU School of Medicine general surgery resident experience Q&A with Christine Wang MD

Photo of Dr. Christina Wang

The Department of Surgery places a strong emphasis on education for medical students, residents and fellows. The medical knowledge and development that occurs within the department stems from a defined curriculum, dedicated faculty and an environment for optimal care for adult and pediatric patient care.

The general surgery residency at IU School of Medicine is a competitive five-year program that exposes residents to all facets of surgery, including trauma, vascular, pediatric, transplant and reconstructive surgery. Through the general surgery residency curriculum, residents receive a solid broad-based clinical education and opportunity to excel both in the operating room and at the bedside.

We sat down with several of the current resident in general surgery to talk about their experience.

Dr. Christine Wang – Third year resident

What made you decide on the IU School of Medicine general surgery program?

Well, being a medical student here at IU School of Medicine I had the pleasure of rotating on a lot of surgical services. During that time, I was able to get feedback from the surgical residents in the program. They spoke so highly of their own program and convinced me it was just one of the great programs out there for reasons that include a heavy emphasis on education, staff that spend time into your surgical training, and a big cohort of residents who all are simply awesome people to be around. I also love Indianapolis and the city. My family is here and the city itself is affordable while also having plenty of things to do!

How would you describe you experience here in Indianapolis?

I know Indiana may sound very rural and Midwest, but the city of Indianapolis itself is very lively and up and coming. I'd compare it to some of the larger nearby cities like Chicago, but nowhere near as big or busy but still having a great variety of restaurants, bars, and places to visit. I also preferred to train in a city that could provide some quiet when you wanted it, which is nice to have when you come home from a long work week. But whenever I am refreshed and want to venture into the social scene, you have areas like Mass Ave, Fountain Square, or Broad Ripple at your fingertips. You can also bike or run on the Monon Trail which runs through downtown. Indianapolis is also very affordable and reasonable, so you can spend the majority of your paycheck on things other than rent or costs of living. And if you love busy places like Chicago, it’s only a 3-4 hour drive away.

How do you feel about the education and training you are receiving?

The faculty here are phenomenal and very parental. They go to bat for their residents. And because it is such a large system, you have a broad variety of attendings from different training backgrounds who are able to show the residents the different techniques and ways of doing things from across the country. We are also huge on education and so our faculty really try to incorporate education into our surgical training. It is impossible to leave IU surgical residency without being a well-trained general surgeon, and I believe we have that reputation across the country.

How did COVID-19 affect your training or education?

How do you think your department handled the situation? I think everybody during that time had to make sacrifices for the sake of safety during the pandemic. During that time, our attendings really looked out for us and put our safety above everything else. Elective cases did dwindle down, and our attendings limited residents at each of the hospitals for our protection. But once COVID cases plateaued and elective cases started up again, we were very busy and made up for a lot of our numbers. I think the entire situation was difficult but our department handled it well and put our safety as the first priority.

How would you describe your previous year?

I think every year begins with a huge learning curve. The biggest is probably the start of intern year, and again second and third year. Intern year included a lot of learning outside of the operating room, learning how to be a doctor to surgical patients. Second year was a transition into seeing consults, being in the operating more, and still helping with floor things. They each were difficult in their own respective ways, but looking back you get to see how much you’ve grown. And although difficult, being surrounded by awesome co-residents makes the journey even better.

How do you feel the surgery department has supported you throughout your training?

Our department tries their very best to do everything they can to support their residents. Whether it is our program coordinator helping with last-minute children care or re-arranging schedules due to last minute emergency events, they really try to look out for us. Our program director listens to our concerns and implements changes based on our feedback. And of course, your co-residents are always there for you. We are all in this together and have been in each other’s shoes, especially in the hardest of days, so we do what we can for each other.

How do you feel about the support you get from your peers?

Some of my best friends are my peers and my co-residents. IU Surgery does such a fantastic job at selecting a cohort of residents who are 1) awesome 2) funny 3) amazing people that it is hard not to become such great friends with your co-residents. Like I said above, we all have been in each other’s shoes and we know what it’s like to need some help during rough times, and we’re all always willing to lend a helping hand or grab a cathartic beer.

What do you look forward to next year?

Each year, you get more autonomy and more time in the operating room. And so I look forward to both of those things next year. Although I am nervous for the increased responsibility you are given, it is a absolutely a privilege.

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Marco Gutierrez

Marco Gutierrez is a communications coordinator for the Indiana University School of Medicine, where he supports the Department of Surgery and the Office of Strategic Communications. Before joining the Office of Strategic Communications, Marco worked for...
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.