Doctors’ Day 2020 – Physician Q&A

Connect Other Doctors’ Day 2020 – Physician Q&A

In honor of Doctors’ Day 2020, we took the opportunity to ask a few of our physicians questions. During today’s health care climate, our physicians are not only doctors, they are heroes. Get to know a few of our physicians by clicking on their question and answer profile below.

Dr. Kristen McFarland, University Internal Medicine

Q – When did you decide you wanted to become a doctor?

A – I knew I wanted to go into the medical field around my freshman year of high school. I loved studying science and anatomy/physiology. I had also watched both of my parents who worked in the medical field have a true passion for their job.  My junior year I decided that I wanted to be a physician after attending the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine and doing volunteer work at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Q – What kept you going during the journey of becoming a physician?

A – Getting involved in volunteer work during high school I was exposed to not only the joys of medicine and patient care but also the difficulties that I would face in pursuing a medical career.  I worked very hard to get into medical school and would not have been able to do that without the support of my family and my closest friends.  Once I got into medical school that support continued.  I knew a lot of the struggles that I encountered during medical school and residency (long hours, studying, sacrifices made) were temporary and would ultimately benefit the care that I would be able to give to my patients.

 Q – Do you remember your first patient? (what was the feeling you had when treating the patient)

A – I remember my first patient encounter as a medical student.  After the initial nervousness wore off, I realized what a privilege it was that this person was allowing me (a new 3rd year medical student) to participate in their care and be a part of their health care team.  After the patient was discharged from the hospital I remember constantly wondering about their care after, follow-up and how they were doing.  This is one of the main reasons I chose primary care is for the continuity of care.

Q – Do you have a story about a special patient?

A – I have met so many special people/patients and everyone has a unique story.  The patients that allowed me to participate in their care when I was pre-med/volunteering, as a medical student and as a resident are truly special.  Those are the patients that are helping to educate/train our future doctors and I am very grateful for those patients!

Q -Why do you like being a doctor?

A – Developing a lifelong relationship with my patients and interacting as part of a care team is why I love my job so much.  My medical assistant Jeniffer is a critical part of my care team (as most my patients know!)  and I am very thankful for her and the care that she helps to deliver to our patients.  I have learned so much from my patients and I am very grateful that they entrust me with their care!

 

Dr. Andrew Russ, University Colon & Rectal Surgery

Q – When did you decide you wanted to become a doctor or why did you decide to become a doctor? 

A –  I decided to become a doctor in between my freshman and sophomore years in college.  I had to rush home one day as my dad was being taken to the hospital urgently.  As I was searching for his room, I felt a great deal of admiration and respect for those who were treating my dad and thus responsible for his well-being and recovery.  It was an epiphany for me and I immediately changed my courses to pre-med and began down the long road of becoming a physician.  Later, as things were getting difficult with course-work etc, and I looked down the long road ahead, I began to question my decision about continuing.  My father responded to me “so, you’re thinking of quitting because its hard?”   Bit of a gut check for me and more or less a challenge.  I resolved to move forward, knowing that I was choosing a harder road than most.

Q – What kept you going during the journey of becoming a physician?

A – I took it as a challenge.  I felt that those that chose this profession should be challenged.  It should be hard.  You want the people that are tested to become your physician.  You want the people that answer the challenge.  And it doesn’t get any easier.  Each step provides its own difficulties, albeit in different ways.  You want the people that want to be here.  And trust me when I tell you, you have to want it.

Q – Do you remember your first patient?

A – I remember my first patient at my different stages.  I remember my first patient as a medical student, a young girl with aplastic anemia.  It was a traumatic experience for the patient and her family, however as part of the treating team, I felt a surge of pride.  I was proud to be part of the team who was entrusted to help save this little girl’s life.  As a resident, I remember my first patient on the transplant ward.  I felt scared.  I was now directly responsible for the care of this patient, and it was terrifying.  As an attending surgeon, my first patient was a rectal cancer patient, that I continue to keep in touch with.  I felt a sense of duty, honor, and responsibility.  Their life was now in my hands.  I want that responsibility on my shoulders.

Q – Do you have a story about a special patient?

A – There are many patients.  One patient that stands out is a young woman whom I had the honor of treating for colon cancer.  We were able to remove the cancer after initial diagnosis was grim.  She had a great recovery and is thriving today.  She, her husband and I still keep in touch and she visits the office often to check up on me.  I take things very personally and feel personally responsible for each patient that I treat.  She knows and could see that.

Q – Why do you like being a doctor?

A – I like being a doctor because I like being relied upon by people in a time of need.  I like the fact that I have the ability to help them.  I want the responsibility on my shoulders.  Because I can take it.

Dr. Tjuan Overly, University Cardiology

Q – When did you decide you wanted to become a doctor?

A – I made the decision in high school….after taking a course in anatomy our class took a field trip to the University of Kentucky Medical School and toured the cadaver lab. At that point, I was intrigued by the complicated nature of our body and wanted to learn everything about it.

Q – What kept you going during the journey of becoming a physician?

A – It wasn’t difficult at all. I had such a great passion for learning, interacting with patients and developing close relationships with colleagues that I enjoyed every step along the way. As the expression goes: if you love what you do you’ll never work a day of your life.

Q – Do you remember your first patient?

A – In my med school we started seeing patients in our first year, so I don’t remember that far back.

Q – Do you have a story about a special patient?

A – No specific story to tell but I enjoy having the honor to take care of very sick people who are on the verge of death…but when I am able to care for them and watch them recover to live active, healthy lives, interacting with friends and family gives me great joy. It is a wonderful blessing for me to experience.

Q – Why do you like being a doctor?

A – It matches my personality. It is a perfect combination intellectual stimulation and challenges with close personal interactions with patients.

Dr. Erinn Morgan, University Women’s Specialists

Q – When did you decide you wanted to become a doctor?

A – I decided I wanted to be a doctor when I was eight years old. I watched a St. Jude Children’s Hospital infomercial and told my parents that I wanted “fix those kids.” It is funny in retrospect because I did work at St. Jude as a student researcher one summer and cried almost every day. From that summer on I knew I wanted to be a doctor but couldn’t emotionally handle pediatric oncology.

Q – What kept you going during the journey of becoming a physician?

A – I had an amazing mentor growing up, Dr Janet Purkey who works here at UTMCK. She was my grandparents’ and parents’ doctor. She allowed me to shadow her in high school and college. She also served as an amazing teacher when I rotated on the internal medicine service. She made sure that I “knew what I was getting into.” She did not sugarcoat the long and difficult process to attaining my degree. She was a listening ear and cheerleader as I went through school and is still both of those today. My family was also paramount in motivating me and keeping me grounded during school and residency.

Q – Do you remember your first patient?

A – I knew I wanted to consider a career as an OBGYN during my second year of medical school. I had the opportunity to watch a delivery. The delivery I watched was that of twins by cesarean. I couldn’t fathom being skilled enough to be trusted to help bring life into the world! The more I learned about the breadth of the field, the more interested I became. I love the continuity of care of women from puberty to childbirth to menopause. I love that each day is different. I can be in the office, in the operating room and on labor and delivery all in the same day.

Q – Do you have a story about a special patient?

A – I am always very humbled when lifelong friends chose me to be their physician. I have helped several close friends struggling with infertility conceive and then I delivered their children.

Q- Why do you like being a doctor?

A – I like being a doctor because it is a career where the education never ends. I am challenged every day. I love being around people who are always striving to better themselves, their skills, and improve patient outcomes.

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