Saturday, August 3, 2013

Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta . . . . and more.


I love my job. I truly do. It goes without saying that I love taking care of patients at Grady Hospital. I think it's also understood that I deeply enjoy doing so shoulder to shoulder with amazingly talented nurses, social workers, interpreters, residents, medical students and ancillary staff. Even on the days that I feel most exhausted, some part of me always looks forward to going into Grady.


But in 2007? Something took my job to another level. In 2007, I was appointed as one of sixteen faculty advisors to our incoming class of medical students. We would be the first to usher them into what we affectionately referred to as "the new curriculum." Each faculty member was assigned between seven and nine students that they would both teach and advise over their entire matriculation through medical school.

The agreement was four years (plus a possible additional year) for each group. From the first day of school until they graduated, they would be our responsibility right along with the medical school administration. We would be their advocates, their teachers, their tough love-deliverers, and, if we were lucky, their go-to person for good times and bad times.

If we held up our end of the bargain, we'd get another group two years later. And another two years after that. And so on and so on and so on.

And so. That's what happened. I held up my end of the bargain and got to remain in this absolutely amazing role. And let's be clear -- I do not exaggerate one bit when I use those words "absolutely amazing." Being given the opportunity to have such sustained contact with learners is a huge responsibility. But more than that, it's such an honor. Man. It's one I don't take lightly at all.

So in 2007, I welcomed in Small Group Alpha--all of whom are full-fledged residents supervising young interns and medical students of their own. 

Two years later, I was trusted to take on Small Group Beta in 2009. And it amazes me to see where they all are some four years later.

Next thing I knew, two more years had flown by. Small Group Alpha had nearly all flown out of the nest and it was time to bring in a new group to the family. This time it was Small Group Gamma -- who I affectionately refer to as "The Gammites."

I promise you -- it seems like I just took that picture above less than five minutes ago. But you know what? I didn't. I took it two full years ago. And these guys -- The Gammites -- have been joined by two additional students while one of our originals has gone off to pursue a PhD for a few years. He will rejoin the medical school after (but that doesn't mean he isn't still a part of our family.)

Yeah. So the Gammmites are now big time third years now. The Beta bunch are slugging it out as interns with a couple of academic research/master degree detour exceptions. But what's even crazier is that some of the group in SG Alpha could even be ATTENDING PHYSICIANS by this time next year. Which is super, duper bananas when I think about it.

So you know what that means, right? It means that I just got a new group. Yes, yes, y'all. Small Group DELTA has arrived.


I look at them and think about how much my relationships with the others have evolved. I think about how special each of them are and how thrilled I am to know that I get to do it all over again. And can I just go on the record saying that every two years I marvel at how I somehow ALWAYS seem to get the very best small group? Can I? Because that's totally how I feel.

And you know? I feel this way already about The Deltoids. (How could I resist calling them that?)

You don't have to say it. Their mean mug needs work, I know. But don't worry. We have four years to fix that. We also have three generations of expert mean-muggers to teach them the proper way.





Seriously, though -- this is such an awesome thing to get to do. For more than just the obvious reasons like building wonderful relationships with my small groups. It's more than that. There are some other really unexpected yet really great perks beyond those four assigned four year experiences.

First there's just the things that happen just from having a regular presence in the medical school. Other students see more than just their advisors. The dynamic leads them to feel more comfortable approaching people to mentor them, too. And that's pretty darn awesome.

Over time, I've developed some very close relationships with students outside of my own small groups. Some of those students have been on my ward teams. But you know? The vast majority aren't. They're simply students who've seen me around and with whom I've interacted just from being there so much.

I like to call them my "accessory" small group even though they are mostly made up of individual relationships.

So that? That's another perk.

And then there's this other really, really amazing thing that happens. See, these students were supposed to be mine until they graduated. But you know what? When you build relationships with people, they don't just disappear into thin air on graduation day. And so. This really great thing has happened where my former students have kept my number in their phones. They call me with their critical incidents from their residencies. They text me with funny pictures and exciting life moments. And I just love it. Every bit of it.

Dan in Philly

Vishes being vicious

Sparky and his PGY3 swag at Wash U

Gunan looking pseudoexcited about his current rotation

Hreem looking like a PGY3 Ophthalmology BOSS.

Zach at your service on his current clerkship

Doris and baby Savannah in Chicago where she is an ER intern

Hreem and Neel on their wedding day in May

Jin doing some acro-yoga in D.C. between Anesthesia cases

Dougie and wife Anne are in a NY state of mind for his residency in Anesthesia

Tony mean mugs his ENT on call pager
When she isn't a green tutu wearing ninja, Antoinette is an upper level Ob/Gyn resident

And I could go on and on and on and on. . . .

Yeah. So today I was just thinking. Thinking about how wonderful it is to have a career that feels so meaningful on so many levels. How fortunate I am to get to do something that nourishes my soul and encourages me to grow. All of it is just so. . . awesome.

I'm so, so grateful, man. And I know I've said it before but it bears repeating. Damn, I'm just so, so glad to be here.


Happy Saturday.

Oh yeah! Guess what y'all? An SG first!! I have a DELTA girl in my Small Group Delta!! Woo hooo!!!  How apropos in 2013!

My advisee and my SOROR!! :)


  1. Small group is definitely the best. It looks like you have a great group!

  2. Team Delta!!! woot woot! :-)


  3. Yay for small group Delta. And to have a Soror in small Group Delta in 2013 is sweet. Love it Soror love it.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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