Essential Wisdom: Inspiring Future Female Physicians

Lindsey Scierka, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine

June 10, 2019 Carrie Dubeau Season 1 Episode 1
Essential Wisdom: Inspiring Future Female Physicians
Lindsey Scierka, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Scierka is a second year internal medicine resident at Yale New Haven Hospital in the Yale Primary Care Program. She’s received her MD in 2017 from Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University and MPH in Health Policy and Management at New York Medical College in 2013. She has been an accomplished clinical research manager and project coordinator, with experience in cardiac electrophysiology clinical outcomes studies. Her interests include preventative cardiology and improving cardiovascular outcomes at the primary care level. Dr. Scierka lives in New Haven, CT with her fiancé Kamil and pup Lola. I am so excited to start off our show with this interview. Dr. Scierka has been a major mentor and friend to me since my first year at Quinnipiac University, and she is an absolute joy and gift to have on the show. 

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welcome to essential wisdom. Inspiring future female physicians. Ah, podcast for engaging and informing the next generation of women in medicine. My name is carried a bow. I'm 1/4 year medical student at the Frank H. Netter, MD. School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University. Essential Wisdom is a podcast for discussing the joys and the challenges off being a woman in medicine through the sharing of stories and advice by women who mentor us. Take a seat with me at the desk of the mentors, come along tow, walk the holes of the hospitals to experience residency and life as a physician personally, as we get to know these phenomenal physicians and scientists. Dr. See

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Erica is a second year internal medicine resident at Yale New Haven Hospital. She works in the Yale Primary Care program. She received her MD in 2017

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from the Frank

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H. Netter, MD. School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University and her Mph and Health Policy and Management at New York Medical College. In 2013 she is accomplished in clinical as a clinical research manager and project coordinator with experiencing cardiac electrophysiology Clinical outcomes studies. Her interest now include preventative cardiology and improving cardiovascular outcomes at the primary care level. Doctor Serco lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with her lovely fiancee Camille and her pup Lola. I'm so excited to start off our show with this interview. Dr. Sirica has been a great mentor and friend to me since my first year at Quinnipiac, and she's an absolute joy to have on the show for this interview. So welcome. Thank you. I'm so excited to be here. And I'm so proud of you for this podcast. I'm happy to be a part of it. Oh, yea. So, Lindsay, let's just start off by having you tell us a bit about your path to becoming a female physician. Sure. So it seems like I've been on this path for quite some time, but there was never really a point in my life where I didn't ultimately see myself being a physician. I was raised in a family of nurses. So my mom, my dad, my grandmother there's a very strong medical presence in my life. From a pretty early age Ondas. I started to go through school. I was really interested in science, but not just science. The intersection of science and how it can be used to help impact people in their day to day life. So for me, medicine was a pretty natural choice. I felt like as a career, there's a lot of opportunities to take a lot of different pathways in your career. You could do research. You could undo clinical practice, administration, advocacy, leadership, community involvement. So it was sort of this all encompassing career that can allow me to have a lot of different avenues while still focusing on something that I love and that I'm passionate about. So I'm really happy that I ended up in medicine. It was a tough road, but for me it was definitely worth it. And I feel like I'm where I'm supposed to being, which is a good feeling. Yeah, that's awesome. Would you say that for you being a doctor? Was the plan from when you were young or just being in health care? You know, that's a really interesting question. I've actually talked to my mother about this, and we tried to pin down like if this is something that I've always wanted to do, and as a child I was actually really into music and singing and dancing on. Everyone thought that maybe I would end up somewhere in the arts. But for me, I kind of took a little bit of a turn that I feel like there's there's ways to have that creative expression in medicine that I liked. So I think that as I've kind of grown in my academic interests and kind of grown into the person that I am, I think medicine became more of a natural fit. If they want me on Broadway, maybe I would go. But in the meantime, I'll stick with the hospital for now. Do you feel like for you? Research is where that creative artistic part comes out. You know, I really think it is now that you mention it. We worked on a lot of research projects together, some very successful, some not so much, which happens with my search, and we do the best we can. But you're right. I mean, the design of a study, you know, doing the background research, executing it, the organization, putting all the pieces together, like for me. There really is a creative process in that, and I think there's a lot of freedom to to design studies. The way that you're interested in and to make it work for you. So that's sort of been a creative outlet for me, I think. Yeah, just good. I definitely agree. E mean, obviously, I we've had a great time doing different projects together. Just so you guys all know is a little background information. Lyndsey and I have worked on cardiology projects together since I started a Quinnipiac. And I think the most fun part is that we always do start from the beginning that this whole thing and going from the ground up in I know not everybody always has that experience and research. So you feel like that's part of the joy gift that we had kind of on our projects together? Absolutely. And I think we probably learned more from our projects and studies that haven't worked that we have from the one that did work, which is helpful. So I mean, a lot of work goes into research, and not everything that you do is gonna be a groundbreaking study. Most things are not so just finding ways to improve your practice and getting something meaningful out of it for, you know, the medical community as a whole, but also for yourselves. How can you be a better researcher and kind of grow and develop yourself through the studies that don't work as well? And then ultimately, it'll kind of help you move forward and hopefully have some grid studies as well. So I think we've had a little bit of both, but I've really enjoyed the process, working on it so far. Me too. It's been good. It's a good learning process. So you mentioned before that you have family members that are nurses, etcetera. Do you think that in Europe activity a woman doctor? There was ever a question in your mind. I'm a female like Should this not be something I pursue? Yeah, I think it's challenging when I look back. The majority of exposures to positions that I had in my life were male. I had a male pediatrician and I always went to male doctors. My first job that I absolutely loved was with a cardiology practice, the head around 20 physician and only two of whom were female. So it was really difficult for me early on to get female physician mentors, and I really haven't had that to this point on. The majority of my mentors who are wonderful had been male, especially in cardiology. And it wasn't really until I got to residency that I started Thio Seymour, female physicians and sort of interact with them and see what it's you know, processes like for them as a female physician, as opposed to the male physicians that I've been working with. So I think my family was incredibly supportive. There was no one who ever told me that I couldn't be a doctor. Of course, I had some cautionary advice from, you know, some other physicians about work, life balance. And if you want to have a family, maybe a career in medicine isn't the best for you. But I think a lot of those thoughts hopefully are starting to die away and, you know, But I feel like that's persistent and, you know, medicine for women as well. I think it's really challenging that, you know, if men may not be questioned about how they do their work life balance, but women are, that's something in the forefront of our career decisions. But for me, it really wasn't. I knew that I'd be able to balance. You're doing what I love in practicing what and have the life that I want. You know, a lot of jobs. You're gonna work very hard. There's people who work a lot harder than I do as a physician, and they make it work. So I think it's there's never been any obstacles for me. But there's always been sort of a overarching theme that, you know, make the traditional role model that I have hasn't been mail, but I still found a way to make my own path as a female physician. That's interesting, because I feel like a lot of women talk about mentorship and whether or not it was a female or a male mentor that helped him along the way. And I think there's really something to be said. I know this is a podcast about listeningto women, but I think there is really something to be said about women having male mentors. Also, I know for me similarly, I've had a lot of different male mentors and they've all made a great impact on my journey and so yeah, I think that's a really relevant point that we all can learn from. But you also brought up a lot of big questions like work, life, balance, you know, and how that integrates into our life as women as doctors. So before we kind of dive into those big questions, just tell us a little bit about like what you do now. See, you're an internal medicine primary care resident. And what is your weak or like, life kind of look like Right? So I'm in my second year of residency, So I'm about halfway through with my internal medicine residency, a DUL primary care program that I'm in. We spend a about half of our time in the hospital and half of our time in the clinic. It tends to be a more outpatient focused model than a lot of the internal medicine programs, which I really like. So, um, any given week, I could usually spend anywhere from 60 to 80 hours on a busy inpatient hospital shift. We do that. I see you. We do regular medical floors, some specialty service's on, and then the next month I might be spending, you know, 40 50 60 hours a week working in our outpatient clinic. We serve mostly under insured and underrepresented populations in New haven who have difficult access to care. So it's an interesting population to work with. But our clinic is almost entirely residents under the mentorship of our faculty as we get to see our own primary care patient panel, where they identify the residents or myself as their primary care physician, which is great. But you're able to do that under the support of the physician. So depending on my schedule, I'll be either inpatient outpatient any given week. Awesome. Do you get to do a lot of different experiences? It sounds like I don't know if many people are familiar with the primary care kind of track in this whole thing, but it seems to be a really great opportunity to integrate all the different types of medicine without feeling like you're constantly in an inpatient setting. Absolutely. And one of the great things about doing internal medicine that really attracted me to it was help brought it ISS e. I knew I was interested in cardiology pretty much since the beginning, since I started working, but it gets so many different exposures, so a lot of people, if they don't want to commit to one, you know, certain specialty or another. You really get to see it all. We'd have liver patients. We have infectious disease patients. We do a lot with addiction, medicine, psychiatry, and they're sort of all these different facets of internal medicine that kind of come together in this program. So helps kind of develop you holistically as a physician to get all these different exposures. And then as you go into your career and start to narrow your focus, you do have this breath of experience that you can really drawn. And it's helpful not only for people who aren't sure what they want to do, but for people who like me. You know what they want to dio but really want a diaper to give experience. So I think that's been really helpful for me. That's awesome. And your program itself, then are you one of many different females in the program, or what is the ratio kind of look like Now? You know, I don't know the official ratio, but I feel like it's very close to 50 50 if it's not, which is amazing, Um, and there's a very diverse population of residents that I work with people not only from all over the country internationally, people from a lot of different backgrounds. There started a running joke that I'm like the native Connecticut girl. I've never literally never left. Connecticut has no intention of leaving eso. I kind of feel like the welcome wagon for all these people to come into my state and train here. But it's also a great opportunity for me to just see, you know, different people. And we all worked really well together. And it's just shows you like, no matter where you come from. If you're in a program that supports you, you're gonna be successful there. But a lot of our program leadership as well. I'm a lot of our faculty and advisors. A lot of them are women. They have a pretty strong presence and making sure that they bring the women together, that we feel supported. And there's a big push for diversity inclusion not just male female, but of all different backgrounds. So I felt really supported and welcomed for sure. That's so good, just great. I love that so kind of in the process of getting through medical school or even in residency for you, what would you say is one of the bigger challenges you face being. If you know, I think one of the bigger challenges, at least for me. Um that may be applicable to other females. Getting into the medical field is confidence and was actually talking with one of our program Director is one of our one of my mentors. And there's for me was a big gap between confidence and competence on I feel like that tends to be more of a, um, female physician issue where, you know, you don't have less skills than anyone around you, but you feel like you D'oh. You feel like, you know, maybe you're not smart enough. Maybe you're not supposed to be there. We talk a lot about him imposter syndrome and feeling like, Gosh, how did they let me into this amazing hospital tow work here? Like they're gonna catch on to me any moment. Her so And I didn't realize that that feeling was shared among a lot of my female colleagues and some of my male colleagues, too. But for me, that was the biggest thing Is that, you know, I was intimidated by, you know, older physicians. Everyone seems so much smarter and wiser, and I feel like that was part of the growth as well. It's just acknowledging that you have to start somewhere. You're never gonna have all the answers. Even the senior attendings that we work with don't have all the answers and just acknowledging that you have room to grow. But that doesn't mean that you are not in the right place and that you don't know what you're doing. So I'm not sure if that's more. I felt that way more because I was a female in sort of a male dominated arena. But that's definitely something that I've kind of struggled with throughout my training. I did not expect, really. Oh, interesting. I find you very confident. Thank you. I appreciate that. Um, I feel like it's it's different on, especially my intern, eery 10 years the hardest literally. You're plucked out of the security of med school and just made a doctor overnight, and, you know, that was one of the hardest. Transitions is taking ownership for your actions mean known like I've trained for this, I know what I'm doing. I'm a physician and sort of owning that role on, and that's sort of been a growing process over at least my intern here. I feel like I'm more comfortable now. But there were so many times on the floors where you know, I would find myself presenting in the form of a question or asking, you know, my superiors Well, you know, presenting the date and say, Well, what do you think? Instead of saying, Well, here's what I think And that sort of been a fundamental change in how I approached my day to day activities, from medical student to being a resident. That's been a big change for me, but it's hard to dio, and I didn't even realize I was doing it. And I would get feedback from some of my faculty advisor saying like you did you realize you were doing this? No, I thought I was just trying to be a good doctor, like No, you gotta own it. You need to see No, put your money down and that's been something that I have to consciously do, whereas in different areas of my life, that might, you know, confidence might not have been an issue, but in the inpatient world I definitely felt that a little bit so that mostly come to be like you recognize it by talking with the people in your programmer? Absolutely. And I obviously internally knew that there was a certain level of discomfort. You know, you go from medical school where you get this breath of knowledge. It's amazing, but to actually go out and practice, it can be very challenging. So for me, I was always a little bit self conscious and nervous, and, you know, there's a high stakes. You want to make sure that you don't make mistakes, that you're practicing appropriately. And I felt like that kind of did weigh on me. And then I just didn't realize how that translated to the people that I was working with. So when I did get that feedback, it was pretty important for me to kind of correct my course and just be more cognizant of it. I think, and be more intentional with my word choices and how I acted and it wasn't till I gather leadership sat me down and said, This is what's going on and they literally drew graft, forming a confidence and confidence graph, I said, like, you know, this is where you are like, this is where you could be just saying that, you know, it's not an issue with me. Whereas I felt like I wasn't smart enough. It was more of my confidence and how I portrayed myself. That was something that I've really been working on it, like, That's very humbling. Yeah, to notice that about that was absolutely. And I think, you know, it's That's one of the best things about mentorship and having advisors is you need people who No, you So you know, I had I was looking enough to have people who seeming, you know, grow over the course of a year and work with me regularly and say, Hey, I noticed you do this. Um, and you know, maybe you should try doing it this way. So I feel like if I didn't have that mentorship and support, I probably just would have kept going on my usual way. You know, it's always helpful. It's it's challenging to talk about because we never wantto acknowledge your shortcomings. But, um, I feel like it's helped me grow a lot as a physician, which has been probably for the best. Yeah, that's great. I mean, that's great to have the opportunity to have people that invest enough and you don't recognize that and then be comfortable coaching you through that. Yeah, it's pretty great. So on the flip side, yeah. Best thing about being a woman, doctor. Best thing about being a woman, doctor. Oh, my goodness. There's so many great things. Um, gosh, what's the best? That doesn't have to be specific to being a female, but maybe just being a doctor, a doctor? You know, I think that at least for me, and I want to speak to broadly. But there's always been this feeling of, like, overwhelming empathy in me. Like I feel like I want to care for people. I want to be there for them, support them. And I feel like I'm any role where people invite you into their life, like at their lowest point, and they need your help. Want your help and you are in a position, hopefully most times to help them. So for me, it's sort of satisfied this internal need where I want to give back to people and to have it be appreciated by the people that you're taking care of and your patients has been probably the one of the best experiences about being a doctor. Just having someone like sit down and say, like, you know, thank you for listening to me. Thank you for taking care of me Anytime. Anyone says that to me, I just light up, like for me at the best part and like it's always been a part of. You know who I was and to have a career where I get that every almost. Hopefully, if I'm doing my job right most days, every single day, I think I feel really lucky to have a job where that's part of my day to day routine is toe, you know, give and to get back. You know, there's a lot of careers where you may not necessarily get back, and that could be challenging. Yeah, so, you know, working the hours and putting all the time in all the training and it makes it worth it when it's so fulfilling for you, that's been the best party thing for me. I love that one of the words that I'm focusing on this year because it's like, you know, January Welcome to 2019 is like heartfelt and I have been trying to think about how, like heartfelt integrates into my job is separate from just like my outside life on guy. Do you think that that's like a great gift from being a doctor and maybe even a special thing about being a woman? Doctor? I'm not very heartfelt, empathetic part of the job in the life like that. Yeah. Heartfelt. Yeah. You want to have a word for the year? I like it when you 19 heartfelt. Um, so I guess one of the other things that we always talked about in female doctoring and, you know, kind of making things work in your life is this idea of balance and, I don't know, balances ever totally achievable some people that it is. Some people think it's not, but is there a way that you think that you cultivate any habits that help you live like a more balanced lifestyle? Um, I think at least for right now I feel like my I have great balance. I'm in the heart of residency and I can honestly say that, you know, I work a lot. Training's very long and arduous at times, but I really feel like I have time to do all the things that I want to do. One thing for me is has been prioritization. So trying not to overextend myself, which is something I had you know had done in the past where you know I'm not going to make it to every event. I'm not gonna be able to see my friends and family as much as I want to. But being there for the things that count, even trying to do as much as I can without overextending has been a big part of what I try. And d'oh! So I come become more accustomed to saying, you know, I'm sorry I can't do it or trying to find ways to fit into my schedule. So prioritizing not only time with friends and family but things around the house and life that you need to dio has been really important. Also, I like to be really efficient efficiency in all things. My mottoes s Oh, just, you know, multitasking, double triple tasking at the same time. If I had some downtime in clinic like today, I was working on one of our research projects and just making sure you use the most of your time. That doesn't necessarily mean that you're working the whole time. You wanna work smarter? Not harder. Was one my favorite phrases as well. So just in making sure that you incorporate in scheduled time not only for work, but also for you. So if I'm gonna watch the bachelor on Monday nights, which I d'oh, that's not a normal. But I make that in ways I know from 8 to 10 o'clock. That's when I'm gonna d'oh! And that's important to me, you know, because you need that. And if you don't prioritize your out of work things as significantly as you prioritize your in work things and that's how you can really get the miss balance. So I've really made a conscious effort to kind of incorporate all fields of my life, making sure that my life's full. In that sense, I feel like that was a Lindsay drop of that was Lindsay's essential wisdom. Um, work smarter, Not harder, everybody. Absolutely. It's my favorite. Smarter. I love it. Yeah, and having a full life. I mean, I think that you bring up a good point. There is, like putting all of your priorities out and then saying, How do I organize this? And that actually made me kind of spend X question. And I was gonna say that How do you choose how you set your priority? Oh, that's true. It's hard. But I also think that when you set your priorities, you need to be flexible and forgiving with yourself under flexible understanding that things are gonna change. Um, and then forgiving, saying, You know, it's not gonna be perfect all the time. I can have the best laid plans that I'd like and guess what it might might not happen. I might not clean the whole house on Sunday. Maybe I just hang out and you don't spend time with my dog. And so just being forgiving with yourself, if you don't meet all those, prioritize our priorities. But still having an overall sense of like what's important to you in life, what do you want to get out of it? Why are we spending all this time training and doing, you know, all this time in the hospital? If your life is not gonna have joy in it, So just fight, figuring out what brings you joy and finding ways to maximize that. Yeah, that's a hard thing to d'oh. I don't know. I don't know the art of getting your priorities and straight, and it's it isn't art. It's absolutely an art. It's not a science. And, you know, everyone's life looks different on just understanding that your life is not necessarily going to be exactly the same as your co residents. As your as the students that you you know, study with and work with. It needs to work for you, and you can't apologize for how you wanna live your life. If you are living with joy, then you're doing something right, and I think comparing with others can kind of set that back. So I've really tried to steer away from that as best I can. It's very hard to do, especially in today's day and age, but just keeping your focus on what's important to you and trying to eliminate as much of the rest of you can has been helpful. I like that. That was good. So I guess then, just to kind of bring all of it together. If there was a piece of advice that you were giving to either a med student or a premed student for them at their stage in their career, Their path. What would it be? I think the piece of advice that for both if you want, you know, I think medicine is a long road, and I feel like that was a lot of the feedback that I got early on in my journey when I was even when I was pre med before even looked at an M Cat study book. It is a long road, but I never looked at it as a cumulative number of years. And gosh, this is how long it's gonna take. Andi, I think that that could be a big deterrent for people. It's, you know, no pre med is four years of college, four years of med school, three years of residency, maybe longer if you want to specialize or do something else. So I never looked at it in a sense of its this long process. You just take it one step at a time, and that's the advice that I wish that I had gotten. Just keep your head down and look at what's in front of you and understanding that you know, you may not get through every obstacle. But all you can do is try. You know, if you want to get into med school, go for it. If you want to take the m cats and try and study for them, do it. You know, if it works, great. If not, you know, adjust your course and find something else that you love. But I think that it's worth definitely trying for and putting your heart into it. If you could see that has something that you want to dio I would not be turned off by, you know, the years of schooling in the hours Because if you're passionate about it, it's what you want to D'oh! You're gonna spend the years doing something else anyway, So you might as well do something that you love. So I think that's the piece of advice that I give young women doctors to be out there. I love that you're gonna send the years doing something else anyways. Doing doing medicines. Exactly. Why night? Why not? That's great. All right, Lindsay. Well, Dr Siarka, Sorry. That is the end of our interview. So thank you to everybody that's listening out there for our first episode. I'm so happy that we have doctors here. Castle, thank you for being here. Thank

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you so much for having me. E. Thank you so much. Dr Lindsay's Erica for coming out to be the inaugural guest on essential wisdom inspiring future female physicians. I also want to say thank you to all the listeners out there who heard this first episode of the podcast. If you are interested in hearing more, we'll have another episode coming up this Thursday. Don't miss it This Thursday, it's gonna be Dr Rush Magen Gia. She is an internal medicine physician. She works in an outpatient setting in Bloomfield, Connecticut. So if you're interested, please tune in. You confined our podcasts at Apple podcast Spotify podcasts and then as well online at essential wisdom dot buds sprout dot com. If you're interested in hearing a little bit more information about each of these amazing female physicians, please check out my Web site. It's essential wisdom, inspiring physicians dot com. You'll be able to find some show notes, a little bit more information about all of our women speakers and a little bit more information about what's coming down the pipeline. So essential wisdom will be coming out with episodes Mondays and Thursdays through the months of June and July. So please subscribe. Tune in. They're going to be, ah, host of just phenomenal female physicians talking about their lives, about their stories and their thoughts on this entire topics. So please tune in. There'll be a lot of specialties, lots of interesting information. And if you have questions, if you have comments, please leave them. I would love to hear what you have to say that to hear questions, things that you want to hear more about, maybe topics that are on your mind so you can leave me a note. Just drop a comment online at essential wisdom, inspiring physicians dot com. So thank you, thank you, thank you. I can't say it enough everyone for coming out to listen to the show on this inaugural episode. Have a great week. Happy Monday