How long have you been a resident here and what attracted you to WashU’s program?
I have just started my sixth year of residency in the WashU ENT program. I devoted two of those years to research in Dr. Jose Zevallos’ laboratory, which has been incredibly rewarding.
I am originally from St. Louis but went to medical school in Costa Rica. My plan was to do a year of clinical research in the U.S. before applying to general surgery residency. Naturally, WashU seemed like an ideal place to get experience and my sister in-law happened to be working as a BJH trauma nurse at the time. She suggested I reach out to the trauma department about opportunities. Dr. Bochicchio took me under his wing and I spent 16 months working as a research coordinator for Acute and Critical Care Surgery. I enjoyed the culture and the people I got to work with, and I decided to apply for a WashU residency position.
I matched into a preliminary general surgery spot but ultimately switched to ENT when a PGY-2 position became available. I met with Dr. Buchman for all of five minutes before I was sold. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
What do you like most about your work here? Have you developed a stronger interest in any one sub-specialty?
The most rewarding part of my job is when our patients express their trust and gratitude for the care that we are providing. I decided to make the transition to ENT specifically because I wanted to take care of head and neck cancer patients. As I have progressed in my training, I have come to appreciate many aspects of otolaryngology. I think the most rewarding surgical interventions are reconstructive procedures that improve both functional and cosmetic outcomes.
You are the Wellness Champion for ENT residents. What interested you in taking on that role?
I think the Graduate Medical Education wellness committee provides a crucial service for the hospital’s trainees. Health and happiness are essential for productive teams, and it’s a commitment that I take seriously. The committee works closely with the Graduate Medical Education office to advocate on residents’ and fellows’ behalf. Representatives from all of the specialties meet once a month to discuss wellness initiatives. We also organize a weekly events calendar to help residents save a little time when looking for things to do outside of work. In our department, Dr. Buchman sponsors a monthly outing for Otolaryngology residents which I help to organize along with Jake Lee, MD, David Lee, MD, Theresa Tharakan, MD, and Carla Valenzuela, MD. We try to find a weekend to get most of the residents together for a trip to the park, a meal, happy hour, or grab some tickets to a Cardinals game.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Most of my spare time is spent with Ashley Evans, my better half. We love to travel and spend time outdoors. Most recently, we visited rural Costa Rica and went hiking in the cloud forest there. At home, we have gotten more into fishing and kayaking. We love anything on the water.
What is your favorite movie and why?
My favorite movies varies often but “Walk the Line” and “A Star Is Born” both come to mind. I like movies with a good soundtrack.
What would most surprise your colleagues to learn about you?
Most people are surprised to learn that I will only eat meat that I catch myself. I have otherwise been vegetarian since the age of 15. Who wants to go fishing?