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Wisdom from the Graduating Class of 2021

Posted by on Thursday, May 20, 2021 in Alumni .

In order to honor and celebrate our 2021 graduating class, the Vanderbilt MSTP dedicated our last seminar series of the year to our graduates. Over Zoom, we shared memory videos and gave each graduate a few minutes to share some wisdom, words of advice, and gratitude with our program. Their invaluable advice to our younger students is shared below.

“We have such a special opportunity to impact patient lives through clinical care and research, but it’s easy to lose sight of this during the dark days of grad school when you are having bad science months. When this occurs, remember why you chose to pursue physician-scientist training in the first place and try to find joy in the day-to-day process, not just the results.”
-Scott Beeler, MD, PhD, Internal Medicine, Barnes Jewish Hospital

“Something that has been really cool is the identity of the Vanderbilt MSTP. Despite leadership changes the soul of the program has remained the same. We make a lot of big important decisions that will impact the rest of our lives while in our 20s during this time in the MSTP. We have a lot of support and mentorship during this time to navigate those decision, but it’s important to make value based decisions and think about what is important to you whether that is your faith, family, skiing, etc. and make decisions that align with those values.”
-Cam Bermudez, MD, PhD, Neurology, Mayo Clinic

“I still remember when I interviewed at Vanderbilt and was sitting in Terry’s living room talking about the journey of curiosity scientists vs destination scientists and how both careers can ultimately be successful. I’m grateful to have been in a program, lab, and department that supported curiosity science, which was in large part how my thesis project came to be. The best part of our program is that it’s like a family. Our MSTP gives you so many opportunities to develop your clinical, research, and leadership skills. I would encourage you to use those opportunities, but then also give back to the program. I am incredibly grateful for all that Vanderbilt’s MSTP has given me, and I have tried to do give back at least as much as it has given me.”
-Stephanie Dudzinski, MD, PhD, Radiation Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

“If I could change my quote I would change it to “Gratitude is the secret of resilience” by Terry Dermody. My main piece of advice is recognize and appreciate whenever you have a great mentor. You can learn from those people and take those characteristics and build them in yourself so that you can be a great mentor for your future mentees.”
-Joey Elsakr, MD, PhD, Internal Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

“Two pieces of advice 1) Make sure you have a great support system and surround yourself with people who are relentless in your success and 2) Carve your own path and define your own goals to become the physician-scientist you want to be.”
-Andy Hale, MD, PhD, Neurosurgery, University of Alabama Medical Center (Birmingham)

“My advice is inspired by a TV show where they are in grad school for magic. The fundamentals are hard, they are always hard and not exciting but you have to get them down to move on to anything else and go out into the world and do the real magic!”
-Lindsay Kozek, MD, PhD, Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear (Harvard)

“A common theme today is our fabulous MSTP family, which supports and cares for us, enables and encourages us to take on new opportunities. Despite this, there are times when one can feel low, isolated, stuck, unsure of how what next steps to take; in those situations sooner rather than later reach out to your MSTP family—peers, near-peers, mentors, alumni. You don’t have to struggle alone, and if the first person doesn’t know or can’t provide the help you need, reach out to another person!”
-MariaSanta Mangione, MD, PhD, Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern

“It feels silly to give advice since everything I’ve learned, I have learned from my fellow classmates in the MSTP. Remember that everyone you meet has something they can teach you and center yourself on that.”
-Michael Raddatz, MD, PhD, Internal Medicine, University of California Los Angeles

“This journey was even harder than I anticipated but you have such a big community and close friends to direct you along the way and be a sense of support. Low grade chronic imposter syndrome is okay and might creep up, but when it becomes higher that’s when you want to seek help. A little bit of this feeling is okay to help push you to be better and improve to do the best you can for your patients and science. Remember the people around you. It’s easy to get stuck in the weeds, learn this concept, study for this exam, do this experiment, but you have friends and family and your patients who are people too and you have to listen to them.”
-Eileen Shiuan, MD, PhD, Internal Medicine, University of California Los Angeles

“I think the hardest part of the program is defining yourself and what your why is. There can be a difference between what you are expected to be and what you want to be. A large part of this program is finding yourself in that. For Black students, the program and process can feel very isolating so it’s important to understand where you can find support whether that is family, community, alumni or other people who might not be your day-to-day support is incredibly important.”
-Petria Thompson, MD, PhD, Radiation Oncology, University of California San Francisco

“I have three pieces of advice: 1) Have gratitude for the present. It’s very easy for us to wait for more down the road, but there is a lot to be said for what we are doing right now and to appreciate this now. 2) I sincerely hope that everyone has the opportunity to fail big and fail hard. Failure is how we grow. Some of the best grapes aren’t grown in the sunniest weather. We need trying situations to grow in complexity and adaptability. 3) Think back to when you help people and how you feel when we do it. Give other people the privilege to help you.”
-Yuantee Zhu, MD, PhD, Anesthesia, University of Pennsylvania