Happy June! This month’s Resident Spotlight is with Dr. Kristin DeGirolamo, a PGY-5 in General Surgery. Before she graduates we had the chance to chat with her about being a Chief Resident, the impact of COVID-19 on her residency and personal life, and more.
You’re currently a Chief in General Surgery, graduating residency this summer. How has your experience as a Chief been, and do you have any words of advice or tips for new Chiefs starting next academic year?
Chief year is very bitter sweet, it’s so exciting to move on but scary/sad to be out on our own working. We also had the extra stress of the Royal College exams being moved. For incoming Chiefs I would say do as much of your administrative stuff early and far away from your exams. The exam is so stressful and trying to get anything you can done early will be really helpful. Also, have you co-chiefs help you out if that is an option, it’s the last year you have to help one another as residents 🙂
Residents have been impacted differently by COVID-19, depending on their program, year, and other factors. Could you tell us a bit of how this pandemic has impacted you personally?
COVID-19 was really challenging for everyone in BC. Luckily my family was not impacted as much financially as many British Columbians were. The disruption around the Royal College exam was definitely the hardest thing to manage during this time. Luckily my husband was still employed during COVID and my son had secure childcare so I could attend to my clinical duties while advocating (along with many other chiefs across Canada) to the Royal College to sort out our exam details. Our residency advocacy groups both provincially and nationally also helped a great deal to get our exam details solidified.
On a more positive note, being home more allowed me to spend so much more time with my family. My son is 4 and having us home more was great for him. We spent so much time together as a family doing mundane things like chores and organizing the house, to fun things like neighbourhood walks and watching many Disney movies. It was a really nice time to focus on my family.
You’re a resident and a mother—a busy combination! What do you do to balance your life between residency and motherhood? What are some things you wish you knew prior to parenthood in residency, that you’d like to pass on to anyone reading currently considering parenthood in residency or in a starting stage of it?
There is no such thing as balance and accepting that will make you a better parent and physician. Some days you are a great doctor but a not so great parent because you have been on call for 24 hours and not seen your family, and that is ok! Other days you spend all day on the couch with your kids and do no clinical work, also ok! I wish someone had explained this to me before I had my son as I spent months agonizing about how I couldn’t “do it all” when I thought others could and then I found a mentor who explained this concept to me and it helped mitigate (but not totally eliminate) the mom guilt.
To organize my time as well as my families, we have a shared Ical and Google cal, which helps keep all the events on track 🙂
One piece of advice to pass on to those with families or considering starting one in residency is to not discount what your resident colleagues without children do outside of work. I have found my co residents to be very supportive of myself and my family and I think we owe it to them to also respect their time outside of work. All residents work very hard and everyone’s time out of the hospital should be respected regardless to what people choose to do with it.
You are graduating this summer. What are your plans for the future?
I am very excited to be joining the University of Alberta Acute Care Emergency Surgery fellowship in July 2020. It is a one year program that focuses on emergency general surgery and is also allowing me to do some breast surgery electives to really round out my residency training.