First Year

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Leslie Anderson MD
University of Rochester

I was born and raised in New Orleans, LA (Who Dat!), where I received a BS from Xavier University of Louisiana (C/O ’12). I moved to the tundra of Rochester, NY for medical school. Initially, I was drawn to EM because of Michael Crichton’s dramatizing screen writing, but thankfully found more realistic reasons to be attractive. I was able to see people from all walks of life, saw a diversity in pathology and most importantly felt at home when I was practicing medicine. When I’m not in the hospital I enjoy doing everything but being in the hospital! Particularly, running, drinking, eating (creole’s my fav) , exploring different city neighborhoods and shopping!!  I chose Chicago because it has the “big-city” feel but the people are way friendlier! U-Chicago seemed like my people: relatable, welcoming, and hard workers. I felt like I’d get phenomenal training in an institution that is constantly evolving.  Random fun fact: I’ve driven round-trip (2600 miles) from New Orleans to Rochester, NY (solo) and managed to never get a ticket or a DVT! Lastly, interesting life fact: I’m addicted to tattoos (currently have 5) but my mother isn’t a fan!

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Brian Bush MD
University of Pittsburgh

Hey everyone! I am really excited to call Chicago home for the next 3 years as I join the U of C family! Here is a little about me. I was born in upstate New York – Not just “north of NYC” upstate, but in that just about always frozen part of upstate New York where you’re almost in Canada. Seemingly in love with temperature extremes, my parents uprooted to Phoenix, AZ while I was still a toddler and I grew up blissfully ignorant of temperatures below freezing. But don’t worry, we moved back to upstate NY (the Finger Lakes) when I was 11 and I quickly grew accustomed to snow and the cold.

I didn’t grow up thinking I would be a doctor. I spent most of high school considering law school or possibly becoming an engineer. But shortly after I was certified as an EMT-B in high school and got some exposure to pre-hospital care, I knew that a career in medicine was solidly on my radar.

Adequately prepped for Midwestern winters from years of living in upstate NY, I left home for South Bend, IN. There, I cheered on my Fighting Irish at the University of Notre Dame while I studied Biological Sciences. I fell in love with public/global health while doing research on malaria and stayed an extra 3 semesters at ND to get my Masters in Global Health. For my capstone project, I travelled to Alor Setar, Malaysia and investigated the epidemiology of colorectal cancer.

I chose to go to medical school at the University of Pittsburgh and after a lot of thought I decided EM was right for me. A few days into my 3rd year EM clerkship and I was sold! Outside of medicine, I have a lot of interests including following ND athletics, hiking, traveling, cooking, gardening, live music and most recently, running.

I feel so fortunate to have matched at the University of Chicago. It has a great mix of everything I was looking for in a residency program: superb clinical training at a variety of sites, energetic and friendly residents and faculty, and a commitment to global health. I am so looking forward to the next 3 years training to become an excellent emergency physician, exploring the city, and serving the people of Chicago with my awesome co-residents!

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Adriana Coleska MD
University of Michigan

Zdravo! I was born and raised in Skopje, Macedonia. My parents, brother, and I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where I’ve spent most of my time in the U.S so far. I attended the University of Michigan for college and graduated with a BSE in Biomedical Engineering and a BS in Political Science. Following college, I took a year off before pursuing medical school to work as an intern at a think tank in Washington DC. While in DC, I tried to learn the art of networking and the process behind policy implementation. I then returned to Ann Arbor to attend the University of Michigan Medical School (if you haven’t figured it out yet I am and always will be a huge wolverine fan – GO BLUE!) Throughout medical school I was very active in the American Medical Association and reaffirmed my desire to remain involved in the creation of health policy. I decided that Emergency Medicine was the right fit for me because I love the acute nature of the profession, the wide range of medicine we need to know to be successful, the patient population (aka every person on the planet), and the flexible work schedule that will allow me to pursue my interests in research and policy regarding racial and socioeconomic health care disparities.

My hobbies include listening to music, dancing, working out, watching TV and games (mainly NBA, and Michigan football and bball), and most of all spending time with friends. Also if you want a travel buddy I’m here for you!

I chose to come to the University of Chicago because I wanted the academic experience in an urban setting. At my interview day I felt at ease with the residents and found the program leaders to be very supportive and energetic. My elation upon opening the envelope on Match Day was captured and became the cover shot for Snapchat’s nationwide “Match Day” story (I have the photo as proof if you want it). I’m very excited to meet my UChi family and start my training!

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Emily DeDonato MD
Ohio State University

I was born in Toledo, Ohio. Thanks to my father, I was raised an Ohio State buckeye fan – so it was an easy choice for me to follow my sister’s footsteps and attend THE Ohio State University for college. During college my love of science and passion for service steered me toward a degree in biology with plans to pursue a career in medicine. This choice was further solidified by some shadowing I did with my older cousin who is an EM physician in Pennsylvania. After I graduated college I was not ready to say goodbye to Columbus, Ohio and decided to stay at Ohio State for medical school. I always had the specialty of emergency medicine in the back of my mind since that was my first real exposure to the field of medicine; and by the end of my third year of medical school it was clear that it was the perfect field for me. I think my favorite part of emergency medicine is the unique opportunity you have to interact with and influence such a wide variety and range of patients – many of whom may never see a doctor outside of the ED.

During my time in medical school I took every opportunity I could to travel and visit my friends and family in other cities. My sister has lived in New York City and London while I have been in school and through visiting her and my many friends who live in Chicago; I have found that while I love Columbus, Ohio, I am ready for a bigger city. I fell in love with Chicago after spending a summer in the city for an away rotation. And I knew University of Chicago was the place for me after my interview day. Everything about the program felt right – the residents and faculty I met, the patient population, and the exciting expansion of the emergency department. I could not be more excited to join the University of Chicago Emergency Medicine family!

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Annette Dekker MD
Northwestern University

Hi everyone. I’m Annette, born and raised in Virginia. I’m the youngest of three with two older brothers. My parents are both Dutch and emigrated from the Netherlands in the early 80s, where the rest of our extended family still lives.

I went to Princeton for undergrad where I majored in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs with a minor in Global Health and Health Policy. I became involved with global health by studying access to pain medication in rural South Africa. After graduating, I decided to spend a year living in Botswana, where I worked at a pediatric HIV clinic. Since then, I have been at medical school at Northwestern in the great city of Chicago.

I’m beyond excited about the opportunity to start at the University of Chicago, have another three years in this incredible city, and start to explore the world of EM. I am passionate about understanding and eliminating health disparities – both locally and globally – and feel that emergency medicine offers an unparalleled window into the health of a community. I cannot imagine a better place than U of C to fully immerse myself and learn how to be a clinician and an advocate.

Outside of the hospital, I’m always in for anything involving the lake, any silly or serious sports team, and would honestly prefer to bike most places.

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Mia Derstine MD
University of Michigan

Hi there!  I’m Mia – born in Hong Kong, but moved to the south side of Evanston when I was 3, stayed for high school at ETHS, and college at Northwestern University.  I had a chance to live in a few different places throughout my pre-medical school years, including Ecuador for a year, Ghana for a semester, and Japan for 15 months.  After exploring the world, I decided to go into medicine.  I feel very lucky to have gone to the University of Michigan Medical School, along with two other of my co-residents!  While at UMMS I found a love for the pace and diversity of emergency medicine, and was delighted to see all the opportunities for both patient and student education in that setting.  I knew I wanted to train in a large urban setting for residency, and am so excited to be returning to the city of Chicago to serve a diverse patient population on the South Side, and become part of the family at UChicago.

When not at the hospital I love traveling, doing Vinyasa yoga, dancing – especially Polynesian and hip-hop, bouldering, cooking healthy Japanese/Chinese food, and binge watching trashy action movies (the Fast and Furious franchise is my favorite).  Can’t wait to be home in my favorite city in the world and be a Cubs fan in Sox territory.

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Christopher Harris MD
University of Virginia

Hello all!

After a fresh-faced, country, Valdosta, Georgia soldier got deployed to Germany and met the European woman of his dreams, I was born, the 4th out of 5 children. German was actually my first language! I lived in Germany until the end of 6th grade, when I moved to the U.S.

I moved every year of high school before finally graduating from a school in the city of Fayetteville, NC, which is the birthplace of rapper J Cole. I then traveled an hour up the road to Chapel Hill to obtain a degree in Sociology from THE University of North Carolina (Go Heels! 2017 NCAA Basketball Champs!). I continued to travel to the next state north and attended UVA for medical school.

After finishing my clerkship year at UVA, I found myself liking a bit of everything. However, I had my most enjoyable moments on my EM block and in the ER on trauma call. I loved the breadth of pathology, procedures involved, population served, and the calm of the EPs during the most stressful of scenarios. I had honestly never thought about going to Chicago for residency until I met Richard Benson and Dr. Carter at SNMA’s national conference. I decided to rotate at UChicago and once the end of the month hit, I knew this was the place for me.

In my free time, I enjoy watching/playing basketball (ask Andrew Marshall about my jumpshot) and football, hiking, wrestling, bowling, and spending time with loved ones.

Excited to begin this journey and grow with amazing people around me!

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Matthew Heuton MD
Harvard

The thing that shaped me the most was growing up in poverty in a small city in Iowa. Not knowing where your next meal is coming from or wearing out your only pair of shoes tends to influence the way one views the world. Unlike most people who experience similar circumstances, I was fortunate enough to find a way to break the cycle through developing my skills as a professional poker player. Excelling in that endeavor afforded me the opportunity to escape poverty and learn about a world I didn’t know existed outside of the small bubble in which I was raised. Poker led me to live in Las Vegas where, after a few years, I realized the emptiness and futility of pursuing a career based solely on financial gain and ego. After some reflection, pursuing a career in the field of medicine appealed to my desire to dedicate my life to a meaningful cause in which I could shape the lives of those around me in a positive way. So after starting at the local community college in Las Vegas at the age of 25, I transferred to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas a year later, and before I knew it, I was given the chance to attend Harvard Medical School. There, my decision to pursue a career in medicine was reaffirmed repeatedly.

My desire to be there for people when they’re at their most vulnerable is a large part of what drove me into the specialty of emergency medicine. Having experienced great socioeconomic challenges as a child and seeing the way those close to me interacted with the healthcare system, I knew that I wanted to help those who didn’t have the means to allow them to attain the best outcomes for themselves and their families. Sadly, many who fit that description find themselves in the emergency department more often than they’d like. The emergency department of a hospital, in my mind, is a beacon of hope and a pillar of any community; no matter who you are, where you’re from, how much money you have, the people in the emergency department will always be there for you, always. The city of Chicago, and the South Side in particular, provides countless opportunities to intervene in the lives of those who have faced financial hardship, discrimination, systemic racism, and generally been put at a disadvantage in our society. I feel a special bond with those who have less, and by serving this community, I hope to change the course of the lives of many and provide our patients with a stabilizing force that can help them develop the lives they want and achieve the goals that are most important to them.

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Courtney Hutchins MD
Rush University

I am originally from Northern Nevada…minutes from Tahoe and plenty of hours from Vegas. Despite a picturesque landscape, and attending a school that shared land with a cow field, I always knew sagebrush and small towns were not for me. I headed to the University of Arizona in Tucson for college and had a great time (Bear Down!). I also got really into authentic quesadillas, the good white cheese kind. As it turned out, the desert is also not for me, so after college I changed things up and headed to Philadelphia to work on a Master’s Degree in Public Health. I was ready for a bigger city, more diversity, and a chance to learn how the health system worked before I decided where I wanted to fit within it.

I had an amazing time in Philly, fell in love with the tiny streets, and food trucks like Mac Mart. I kept up with my hobbies taking dance classes and doing yoga, and found a niche in health policy. I was blown away by the health disparities I saw, and fascinated by the complicated health system everyday people were expected to navigate. Thanks to some amazing experiences, and mentors who happened to be EM physicians, I realized how important the physician perspective and voice in things like policy and management really are—and I headed off to another big city to finally take the medical school plunge (and check out the deep-dish scene).

I attended Rush University Medical College in Chicago, and I had a blast! I fell in love with this city, despite my first hard winter, and really experienced it to the fullest. (My favorite restaurant is Avec—because the focaccia is truly bread and cheese done right.) I was pretty involved in leadership and activities. I spent free time at my dance and yoga studios, traveled abroad with my sister, and was even a professional nanny and dog walker. After all that excitement, and the changing political environment, I knew that for once I did not need to go looking for a new city. Chicago has it all, and I was ready to marry my passion for Public Health, Medicine, and cheesy bread for good.

When I first met some of the residents and faculty at the U of C, I knew it was an instant fit. There are so many amazingly driven and talented people here, who are focused on the many aspects of medicine besides just—the medicine part. I was amazed that such an impressive academic environment was filled by people who care so much about the community within and beyond the walls of the hospital. I could not believe it when I opened my envelope on Match Day. So emotional! I am looking forward to enjoying the next phase of my life as a member of the U of C family, and a resident of this awesome city.

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Leigh Jackson MD
Meharry Medical College

Hey everyone! I was born and raised in Bedford, Texas, a suburb in between Dallas and Fort Worth. Being the youngest of 3 and the only girl, I’d like to think that I wasn’t particularly spoiled, but my brothers would suggest otherwise. I grew up in a staunch Dallas Cowboys household and yes it is America’s team. I was pretty active growing up in sports and fine arts. I played soccer, ran track and field (long jump, 100m and 200m, and 4×1 relay), and played basketball. I also sang in the choir, played viola in a youth orchestra, and participated in theatre.

I went off to Washington, D.C. for undergrad at Howard University. After receiving my B.S. in biology with a minor in chemistry, I took a year between undergrad and medical school to be an ED scribe in a level I trauma center and a substitute teacher back home in Texas. I absolutely loved my scribe job and looked forward to going to work everyday. Being a teacher wasn’t bad either and the students always kept me laughing. I stayed in the south and attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. It was here that I learned to care for patients with the greatest need as we do the bulk of our clerkships in a hospital that cares for the poorest communities in Nashville. I became very active in the Student National Medical Association, and organization geared toward minority medical students, and was able to insert myself in the underserved communities of Nashville through service and outreach.

Choosing EM was easy for me. The breadth of patient pathology seen in the ED coupled with interacting with people from all walks of life has made EM really feel like home. Involvement with underserved communities is a big draw for me as well and UCEM is more than dedicated to the people of Chicago we serve. I could not be more proud to be a part of this program.

In my free time I enjoy hiking, watching documentaries, playing my viola, and reading fiction novels. I would be remiss if I failed to mention the periodic Netflix binge. I’m hoping to jump back into the theatre scene now that I’m in Chicago!

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Brendan McEvoy MD
University of Michigan

Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I’ve spent the better part of 32 years bleeding maize and blue in the great college town home to the Wolverines. My path to medicine has been a bit of a circuitous one, however, as I studied Sport Management at the University of Michigan and worked a number of odd jobs in my twenties, including full time smoothie barista at Jamba Juice, cell phone salesman extraordinaire for Verizon Wireless, and farmhand on an organic farm on the island of Maui. Once I realized that pouring shots of wheat grass was not my calling, I returned to school to complete a post-bacc program and ended up back at the University of Michigan for medical school.

In my free time, I love spending as much time as possible in the outdoors, whether that means adventurous backpacking trips, car camping for the weekend with friends, or just relaxing on the beach at Lake Michigan. I’m also a sports fanatic extremely loyal to my Detroit teams (for better or worse) and love playing pickup basketball, soccer, volleyball, and spikeball (if you don’t know what that is, ask me about it).

I am unbelievably excited to move back to the wonderful city of Chicago, with its bustling street festivals, outstanding restaurant scene, and unrivaled summers. My love for this city actually stems from a yearlong stint I did here prior to med school as an AmeriCorps volunteer at a mental health clinic for Southeast Asian immigrants & refugees. So when I had the opportunity to interview at the University of Chicago and meet the exceptional faculty and residents here, it was a pretty easy decision of where I wanted to do my training.

Speaking of easy decisions, picking EM was just that. I love the fast pace and high acuity, the diversity of care delivered, and the breadth of knowledge and skills necessary to excel as an ED physician. My specific career interests are still very broad, but include EMS, ultrasound, toxicology, and medical education. What I love about UC’s program is that I know it will allow me to cultivate any or all of these interests over the course of the next three years and I couldn’t be more excited to start on that journey!

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Thomas O’Brien MD
Rutgers

I was born in New York City, but grew up just across the river in New Jersey. Unlike most, my passion for medicine did not truly blossom until my undergraduate years. Instead, my childhood consisted of studying and predicting the weather (yes, I’m a total weather nerd) and competing all over the country in gymnastics. Eventually, my interests for the sciences and my achievements in gymnastics lead me to the University of Minnesota where I entered the College of Biological Sciences and competed for their varsity gymnastics team (Go Gophers!).

Shortly after my college graduation I landed a job as an emergency room scribe out in Minnesota. I was able to experience what it was like to be a part of the ED team while observing ED physicians providing compassionate medical care to patients in their most vulnerable state. I soon realized this was the career meant for me, so I applied to medical school and was soon on my way back to New Jersey where I attended Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

It did not take long during medical school to realize that the emergency department was home to me. As I applied to emergency medicine residencies, I knew I wanted to work in a big city with a diverse population, so Chicago was a clear choice. However, it was not until my interview at the University of Chicago where I truly fell in love with the program and the city. It was apparent the residents and faculty were all very passionate about the program, and the camaraderie among the residents was obvious. Additionally, the Cubs won the World Series the night before my interview, which allowed me to witness this amazing city come together in celebration! I am so excited to see where my career takes me as a University of Chicago EM resident!

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Kristina Pfeiffer MD
NYU

Born and raised in Walnut Creek, California, I grew up enjoying all things outdoors. I stayed in my home state for undergrad at CalPoly where I initially studied Environmental Engineering. After I was given my own cubicle at my first engineering internship, I quickly realized that I was not suited for the office lifestyle and decided to enter the wonderful world of Biochemistry. My first exposure to Emergency Medicine was in EMT class, where my best friend and I were not only the only two girls, but the only two non-firefighters, which earned us the unfortunate nickname of “sorority girls” (although we were actually proud members of a chemistry fraternity). I rounded out undergrad with a minor in Spanish, which was mostly an excuse to study in Spain for a summer. I worked at a chronic pain clinic for a year before medical school, which I fondly refer to as my glory year… working and carpooling with my (different as above) best friend and taking advantage of every free weekend.

I flew with four giant duffel bags across the country to attend medical school at NYU, deciding that it was time to explore a different part of the country. I had no idea what field of medicine I would go into for the first 2+ years of medical school, but after spending my first shift in the ED, I never looked back. I’ve also always (as long as I can remember) had an interest in Global Health, which I managed to channel into spending 5 months abroad during medical school, most recently working with home birth attendants in Guatemala (and currently writing this bio in New Zealand).

The people, program, and patient population at the University of Chicago won me over instantly, and I can’t wait to join the class of 2020 (I guess in this case, foresight is 2020). I’m most looking forward to checking out Chicago’s donut scene, using my Fitbit to track my ED steps, integrating into Chicago’s South Side community, and getting involved with some International EM.

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Saad Siddiqui MD
University of Chicago

Hello all! I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. I received a B.A. in Biology from the University of Chicago, then attended medical school at the University of Chicago, and loved it so much that I stayed to do my residency in Emergency Medicine here. I chose Emergency Medicine because of the diversity of pathology coupled with the high acuity and fast pace in the Emergency Department.

For fun, I like to watch sports, lift weights and spend time with my wife! I am a huge sports fanatic (Go Bears, Cubs and Bulls). I look forward to training at UofC with my colleagues on our journey to becoming amazing EM physicians.

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Joseph Tarran MD
University of Chicago

I grew up in the green part of New Jersey before moving to the green part of New York to attend Cornell University in Ithaca. There I majored in Biological Sciences and discovered a passion for working with students in residential programs, teaching roles, and service organizations.

After graduating, I stuck around Central New York for a couple years, first to serve as an AmeriCorps volunteer at a community health center in Syracuse. I then moved back to Ithaca to work as a Public Health Fellow at Cornell Health on programs to improve student mental health and wellness.

I found Chicago almost by accident after spending a summer working in Evanston at a program teaching some really exceptional high school students. I fell for the city and its deceptively perfect summers and was thrilled to move to Hyde Park to attend the Pritzker School of Medicine. As a medical student I was drawn to Emergency Medicine for its breadth and pace and also the relationships built with patients and team members in such a dynamic environment. I could not have been happier to match at the University of Chicago for my residency training and continue to work with the amazing teachers and mentors that I was so fortunate to find here as a medical student.

Outside of medicine, I’m a huge baseball and Yankees fan – no apologies. I also enjoy entirely too many tv series and have a soft spot for Disney movies. I’ve had a great time exploring Chicago’s restaurants, culture, and coffee spots, and am looking forward to finding even more as I get to know my fellow residents!

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Eric Wang MD
Georgetown

I was born in Maryland but grew up in Topeka, Kansas. Topeka may be a quaint city, but what it lacks in population it more than makes up for in character. My parents are both psychologists and from an early age, they taught me the importance of helping those in need. I also learned it is impossible to ever win an argument against them.  I have a younger brother, David, who is both my greatest competitor and best friend. Growing up, we spent all our free time at the gym trying to beat each other at basketball. The main thing he taught me is that I am the second most athletic person in my family.

After graduating from high school, I attended Washington University in St. Louis, where I majored in Psychology. It’s also where I first developed my love for Emergency Medicine. Sometimes I feel as if the universe knew I was destined for a career in EM, as it repeatedly found ways to ensure that I would wind up in ED as a patient. Four injuries and 15 stitches later (all caused by playing basketball), I finally took the hint and shadowed an Emergency Medicine doc. And, as the universe expected, I was instantly hooked. I love EM because it is a dynamic specialty rooted in the heart of all medical fields. It is one of the only specialties where physicians must act not only as healers and problem solvers, but also as advocates, leaders, and teachers. Plus, TV shows make EM docs look awesome.

Following college, I spent two years traveling and working abroad for a non-profit organization with the mission of improving healthcare access for orphans in Shanghai, China. I also learned the importance of budgeting and money management. So, after using all my funds on various adventures (and misadventures) abroad, I figured the prudent move was to embark on the most expensive venture of my life: medical school. I attended Georgetown University, where I tried to keep an open mind but kept coming back to EM (sans any ED visits as a patient this time).

I am truly honored to have the opportunity to join such an amazing family at U of C and I’m excited to learn from such an impressive group of residents and faculty. During my free time, you can find me exploring the city, looking for the best pizza in town, and watching the Bulls play. It’s going to be an amazing three years!

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Will Weber MD
Northwestern University

Like most children, my first experience with a physician was on the receiving end of a vaccination. Growing up in Budapest, the worst phrase I could muster at my pediatrician was, “csunya vagy”, the Hungarian way to call her ugly while also referring to her in the informal. At age 4, my professional goal was to become a garbage man. By middle school, my focus turned toward engineering when I discovered my love of problem solving and also realized how awkward I was around people. In high school, I volunteered at a hospital and was assigned to “patient visiting”. Going door-to-door from patient to patient proved an excruciatingly efficient method in teaching me how to relate with strangers. I soon discovered a passion for listening to stories – one that complemented my love of problem-solving. Emergency medicine united these passions and brought me full circle, as a tiny patient recently called me the “meanest, meanest, meanest person ever” as I repaired his small chin laceration – reminding me of my own introduction to medicine.

At age 5, my family moved from Budapest to Chanhassen, Minnesota, birthplace of the honeycrisp apple, home to Prince’s Paisley Park studio, and renowned for having the longest running dinner theater in the country. Since graduating from high school, I have slowly migrated toward the South side of Chicago from Evanston (Northwestern Undergrad) to downtown (Northwestern medical school) and now to Hyde Park. During med school, I also completed a Master’s degree in Public Health with a focus on international medicine.

I love EM because we care for everyone: refugees, expectant mothers, people facing homelessness, kids, and octogenarians. Their ailments are varied, but what unites them is a personal health crisis. My profession allows me to care for them both mentally and physically. In my free time, I enjoy hosting dinner parties, writing letters, babysitting for families at church, finding little ways to make life more efficient, and exploring the world – especially if it involves nature.