Resident Spotlight: Dr. Martha Magnuson PGY-3

Dr. Martha Magnuson is a PGY-3 resident in internal medicine and applying to rheumatology for fellowship. Here, she shares with us her path to medicine, why she chose to train at UMMC, and why she loves serving Mississippi.

Why did you choose UMMC for residency?

I really never thought about going anywhere else. I was born in Mississippi – my mother grew up here, on a farm outside of Vicksburg – but raised in Austin, Texas. We would come back nearly every holiday to visit my grandmother and extended family on the farm, and Mississippi has always been a very cherished and important part of my identity.

I went to college on the east coast, majored in history and then moved to Los Angeles after graduation to work in film production. I worked at a talent agency and then on a couple of films (The Family Stone, Munich) and later for a trend forecasting firm. At some point, I just got exhausted by the city and the industry and, inspired by the death of my uncle, a state senator who had devoted himself to supporting public education in Mississippi, decided I would move here and ‘do good’. I went to New Orleans first, getting my graduate degrees in public health and social work at Tulane, and then got a job at Jackson Hinds Comprehensive Health Center. I worked at the clinics in Vicksburg and Utica as well as the main site on Medgar Evers Blvd in Jackson. It was an incredible opportunity to learn about some of the barriers to healthcare in the un- or underinsured, and my decision to go to medical school came out of the feeling that I could have more of an impact as a doctor than a social worker.

I always feel compelled to go into my background because my path to medicine has been so much about the journey. It’s also been so inextricably tied to Mississippi; my goal was never just to become a doctor, it was to become a doctor in Mississippi. And I’m so fortunate that we have such a wonderful internal medicine program here; I couldn’t have anticipated how meaningful the relationships with other residents, faculty, hospital staff would be.

“…my goal was never just to become a doctor, it was to become a doctor in Mississippi.”

Dr. Martha Magnuson

Tell us about a memorable experience from training.

The month I did Hematology as an intern happened to be incredibly busy – the rumor was that it was the largest the list had ever gotten, but we may have started that rumor ourselves – and our workdays were very tough and long. (Fun fact: Carrie Wynn and I have daughters who are very close in age, and they just so happened to take their first steps that month while we were in the Hematology work room!) But I was with the best team (Carrie, Fowler Joiner, Tommy Skelton and David Wallace, a radiology prelim) with wonderful attendings (Dr Bigelow and Dr Milner), and I still think back to it as one of my favorite months.

What is one thing you would tell the incoming interns about what is to come?

If my story is any evidence, I’d have to say that you never know! Residency is demanding and challenging, but it’s also a time of so much opportunity and possibility. It’s probably easier to appreciate that aspect because I’m older and worked for so long prior to medical school, but it’s pretty magical to reflect on all the choices we have at this stage.

What could you give a presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

Neighborhoods of Los Angeles; celebrity dating histories

What are some small things that make your day better?

My children: Ferris (6) and Cecile (2); the 45 minutes following my morning glass of undiluted Mississippi Cold Brew coffee; Sockwell compression socks

What profession would you have chosen if you weren’t a physician?

Think I’ve already given most of them a shot!

Dr. Magnuson on the set of Munich in Budapest
Dr. Magnuson and her daughter Cecile and son Ferris

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