Where do you live at this time?
I currently live in Orlando, FL.
What educational path did you follow?
I followed a traditional educational path and after high school went to college at FIU followed by medical school at USF in Tampa, FL. I then went on to complete my Internal Medicine Residency at University of Illinois in Chicago. I did not take any gap years.
What is your current profession and where do you work? How did you come to work in this field?
I am the Program Director for the UCF/HCA Transitional Year Residency at Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee, FL. I am also an Assistant Program Director for the UCF/HCA Internal Medicine Residency.
I always knew I wanted to train future clinicians (aka residents) and so after completing my Internal Medicine residency, I looked for a job that would allow me to do so. I was very fortunate as positions for faculty are difficult to come by, especially in major cities.
What is most rewarding about the work you do? What are the challenges?
Watching patients leave the hospital after a critical illness, such as COVID, is always rewarding and very humbling. In my opinion, seeing a resident complete their training and move on to fellowship or as a practicing clinician is absolutely amazing as well. You become personally invested in these individuals and do everything you can do to allow them to succeed.
Academic medicine can be challenging as well. One of the most difficult things to deal with is a struggling resident, whether that would be academically or professionally. Again, you become personally invested in the success of these individuals and want to do everything you can to help them so that they can complete residency.
What is one essential academic or life skill you honed at Scheck Hillel?
Prioritization is essential. In order to complete medical school, one really needs to realize how important their studies are and that they come first. Imagine not going to class for two weeks and saying you’ll watch 40+ lectures at home over those two weeks, but failing to start until day 13. I can promise you that it will result in a failing grade in medical school. It happens because people learn bad habits in grade school. However, if you make it a goal to focus on your studies and not procrastinate now, you will have the tools to be successful later.
What is your advice to future Hillel students who might consider a career in your field?
If you want to go to graduate school, specifically medical school, start thinking about finances and be strategic when choosing an undergraduate university. While it might be nice going to an out-of-state prestigious undergraduate university, will it make it easier for you to go to medical school? No. A lot of it comes down to standardized tests (i.e., the MCAT) and personality (i.e., the interview). In fact, some might argue that you are more likely to be recruited to a top-tier medical school by going to a small college or state university because medical schools are looking for diverse applicants.
What I can promise you though is that by going to a prestigious undergraduate university, you will have to take out student loans twice. Once for undergrad and then once again for medical school. While you might get a large scholarship for undergrad, there is no such thing as an all paid for, or even a 50% paid for, scholarship to medical school. Now to be fair, NYU did announce they were making medical school free a few years ago, but they are the only school to have done that.
The majority of people who go to a US Medical School are in debt over $200k at the end of the four years. Now imagine that you also took out $100-150k loans (after the undergrad scholarship you got) to go to an out-of-state private undergraduate college. With interest, you will be in debt over half a million dollars before you enter the work field and begin to pay it off. Regardless, of what specialty of medicine you enter, that is a lot of money to be in debt.
I don’t say this to sound mean or condescending, I say this because I think the educational system does a poor job at explaining how serious student loans are and the large amount of financial debt one will incur with prolonged education. Just listen to your parents, really. It was the best thing I ever did. Instead of going to Emory, I went to FIU for undergrad. I still had an excellent premedical curriculum, attended what I feel is one of the best medical schools in the State of Florida, and was a resident at a major tertiary-care academic medical center. More importantly, instead of being $400k in debt, I was only $200k in debt at the end of my undergraduate/medical school career.
What is the last book you read/podcast you heard that taught you something you didn’t know before?
I read to my daughter, Samantha, every night. She just turned two and so whenever we come up to a Jewish holiday, I try to read a book about that holiday. We were reading the book called “The Elephant in the Sukkah.” I was shocked to learn that in the Talmud there is a debate over using an elephant as a wall of a sukkah! Don’t believe me, Google it!