A native of Tennessee, Dr. Anna Carr is a PGY-3 resident in internal medicine. She will be staying at UMMC next year to begin pulmonary and critical care fellowship. Here, Dr. Carr shares her path to Mississippi, memories of training, and advice for incoming trainees.
Why did you choose UMMC for residency?
A few reasons…..first was the pre-interview dinner during which I sat next to then-incoming chief resident Kelly Pippin. Her infectious personality had the table laughing all night such that it felt like those strangers were already my friends. I didn’t feel lonely despite being further from “home” than ever before.
Second was my interview with Dr. Thigpen, a luxury at that time as he was not yet PD and not every applicant had the opportunity. As an osteopathic medical student who trained in small rural hospitals, it was easy to feel inadequate for such a large institution with a breadth of resources and pathology. Yet he made me feel as if I was the best candidate and already part of the (his) team.
Last was a little sign I took from the Man Upstairs. My road trip from Nashville to Jackson allowed me to stop and spend a few days with my grandma in Alabama. This was the last time I saw her well and her normal self before she unfortunately passed away a few weeks later. It became very clear that “random interview down in Mississippi” wasn’t so random after all.
Tell us about a memorable experience from training.
There are too many it’s hard to pick just one! A little background: I am not one to be center of attention but enjoy giving people a good laugh. Unbeknownst to me, there is a group of “older” (I mean this very kindly) folks who love to come bowl and watch our Annual Bowling Tournament at Fannin Lanes every year. It was my intern year, and I was still a little on the reserved side. My good pal Austin Burkenstock agreed to dress up as old folks and call our team Granny Needs a Bowel Movement. Needless to say, it was awkward running into one of those ladies in the restroom and even more so when Dr. Thigpen apologized to them over the loud speaker for giving me the Best Individual Costume award.
What is one piece of advice you would give to interns?
Write it down. If you’re a forgetful person or just plain overwhelmed, this is helpful with daily labs and vitals, to-do lists, that random medical fact about that random zebra disease you can never remember but appears during Jeopardy game day, etc.
But I will also tell you to write down the memories: those that scared you, made you cry or smile, made you grow, reminded you why you chose medicine. Also, write down the people: those that helped you along the way, who you helped, who stood by you in those memories. You won’t want to forget them. (It will also come in handy when writing your fellowship personal statement in a couple years. Thank me later!)
What could you give a presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
Chocolate-dipped fruit. My former employer might not be happy if I did, but at least I could share the finished product!
How has COVID-19 changed the way you practice medicine?
In some ways, nothing has changed; I still wash my hands ten million times per day. The biggest effect for me has been on relationships with patients and their families. In this profession, comfort and caring are not meant to be shown via a phone call or Zoom video. I want them to see the smile on my face when delivering good news or the empathy when discussing the not so good news. I want to sit in the bedside chair and stay a minute each morning. I want to hold their hands and pray when patients are scared. While COVID has taken away some of that closeness, I think each of us has to be creative in ways to show that we still care and are still here.
What are some small things that make your day better?
Sunny days and being outside. Imagine it now: wearing sunglasses with a slight breeze across your face.
My electric blanket when it’s cold (as I write this during a snow storm).
Running into co-workers/friends in the hall after not seeing each other for a bit.
Giving & receiving cards or small gifts (also called “happy”s) to/from friends and family in TN.
The dog’s excitement when I come home, and her insistence to take naps.
Food, particularly a good dessert or anything with cheese.
This list could go on forever…
Where could we find you when you are not at the hospital?
Pre-COVID: walking in the park, shopping or running errands, driving around the Rez or Trace, out to dinner
Post-COVID: my couch or a friend’s house
What profession would you have chosen if you weren’t a physician?
Baker. No question. I got a KitchenAid stand mixer for Christmas, and it is a game changer! I don’t practice and make as much as I would like because I’d prefer to not get diabetes. However, I do enjoy an end of the month treat for my teams and am always up for suggestions.