Get to know Dr. Sam Thomas, categorical PGY-2 resident, husband, hunter, and dog lover.
Why did you choose UMMC for residency?
It is home, but not because I am a Mississippi native. UMMC just has a way of feeling like home, even for folks that are from different states and countries. It offers comfort and hospitality. Most importantly, you feel needed as Mississippi has one of the most chronically and acutely ill patient populations. With that comes a diverse and holistic training opportunity that most institutions dream of offering. I would reapply a thousand times over if I meant I could stay here at UMMC.
Tell us about a memorable experience from training.
These occur weekly. One that comes to mind is not the most joy-filled memory, it is one I will never forget and will continue to learn from. I was the resident on cardiology nights. We had a new admission, a sweet elderly man suffering from severe dementia who was admitted for a STEMI that, unfortunately, had been ongoing for days. We took him for coronary angiography and were not able to do much given the time that had passed. He was transferred to the ICU and came back to my service the next night. That night he began to decompensate quickly and I knew he was passing away. I called the family and urged them to come to the hospital. Before they could arrive, he passed away. I met them at the front door to inform them. We spent the next couple of hours at the bedside partaking in a combination of silence, reminiscing, and shedding tears. Despite the outcome, they were so pleased with the care he received and thanked me. Little did they know it was my first patient death. The amount of direct patient care and autonomy at UMMC goes a long way and provides the toolset to navigate circumstances such as that one.
What is one thing you would tell the incoming interns about what is to come?
Keep your head up. Residency is hard and intern year is perhaps the hardest. The years thereafter don’t get easier, but you become more resilient, efficient, and better equipped. Take every patient interaction as an opportunity to learn and know that you are making a difference.
What could you give a presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
Easy. The art of deer hunting. Yes, it is an art.
How has COVID-19 changed the way you practice medicine?
I was a medical student at the height of the pandemic so I’m not sure that it had the chance to change the way I practice but it certainly sculpted it. It helped me realize that medicine is an ever-changing field and we must be ready to accept the change so that it can mold us. Without change comes stagnation.
What are some small things that make your day better?
Crystal light caffeine. I’m not a fan of coffee and not sure I will ever be; however, this is subject to change as my level of training increases along with my age. The love of my wife and family. Coming home to my two dogs who act as if I have been gone for years.
Where could we find you when you are not at the hospital?
In the backyard with my two dogs. At my parent’s house enjoying a home cooked meal. At my deer camp without cell phone service, which I 10/10 recommend to promote mental health.
What profession would you have chosen if you weren’t a physician?
Two thoughts. Ideally, a professional golfer, but not sure I am good enough for that. Realistically, a stay-at-home dog dad with the future goal of a stay-at-home human dad.