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Scott Moerdler, 27, Pediatrics
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Why pediatrics?
I volunteered at youth groups and summer camps when I was younger. I’ve always felt like a big kid at heart.

How’d you do with your first cadaver?
Everybody has a different thing that freaks them out. For some people it was the eyes, others the fingers. I really didn’t like the fat or hair. Cleaning the hair grossed me out.

Is the Affordable Care Act good or bad for doctors?
Having universal health care that’s going to better the community is a wonderful thing. But doctors don’t have the same safety and comfort they used to have. We’re taking a hit.

Photo: Danny Kim

Laura Vogel, 27, Orthopedic Surgery
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Isn’t orthopedic surgery for jocks?
Orthopedics is stereotypically a male jock field, but Columbia has a lot of female residents. About a third of the program is women; I saw them as good role models. I’m active: I run marathons, do triathlons, and am the Columbia Bench Press Women’s Champion. So in some ways I actually am the stereotype. But I’m still a woman and proud to be changing the impression a bit.

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Vladimir Kaplinskiy, 26, Internal Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

What was your worst day of med school?
The day I opened my student-loan statement.

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Kimberly Atiyeh, 25, Otolaryngology
NYU School of Medicine

Med school can make you kind of a hypochondriac, I hear.
I thought I had an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a brain tumor because I stumbled in the shower and thought my balance was off, leukemia because of some bruises.

When did you stop doing that?
When I was on my psych rotation. That’s when you realize everyone gets nervous.

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Amanda Harris, 44, Internal Medicine
SUNY Downstate College of Medicine

You’re 44!
I had been doing a Ph.D. in comparative literature, working as a website designer, but my brother had been ill and I realized at some point that being a website designer wasn’t my goal in life. So I decided to go back and see if I could do the medicine thing now.

What’s your favorite medical TV show?
Quincy. I know. That dates me.

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Jad Husseini, 28, Radiology
Weill Cornell Medical College

Got any good rookie-doctor stories?
My first day on OB/GYN, I wasn’t wearing the booties in the OR to cover my shoes, and during a C-section, all of the amniotic fluid rolled down my gown and into my shoes. I was on call that night, shuffling around all night on squishy shoes. Dogs like the smell of amniotic fluid.

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Anthony Clarke, 31, Emergency Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

What the grossest thing you’ve ever seen or done?
A mangled lower limb, from someone being run over by a train. He was drunk and fell on the tracks. Everything was displaced. There was no order to his anatomy. If you see an injury or a fracture, you kind of, in your head, say, Okay, this goes here, this goes here. But this patient was meat-grinder mangled. There was no way to unwrap the puzzle.

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Naomi George, 30, Emergency
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

What specialty would you never do?
Ophthalmology. The eyes make me nauseous.

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Samuel Holzman, 28, Internal Medicine
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

How bad is med-school sleep deprivation?
I remember a day I was on surgery and had come out of an emergency appendectomy at 11:30 at night, then had to run home, grab something to eat, get up at the crack of dawn, and go right back to the hospital and do it all over again. That’s when I realized the stories you hear are true.

When friends or family ask you to diagnose them, are you flattered or annoyed?
Right now, I’m flattered. Ask me again in ten years.

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Jill Berkin, 31, OB/GYN
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

What was your worst day of med school?
I was on my internal medicine clerkship, and I watched a patient die. It was the first patient I saw die right before my eyes. Being forced to compartmentalize the emotional component and then move on with the day was a very hard thing. So was seeing other people's reaction to that death. They weren't always so professional. People break down. Doctors are human.

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Jordan Nestor, 31, Internal Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

A lot of doctors become hypochondriacs during med school. Did you?
I never thought I had anything, but I thought my husband had everything. I thought he had a heart condition; I thought he had something in his brain; I thought he had personality problems. As a result, he's become a germaphobe.

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Sheera Minkowitz, 25, Pediatrics
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

What was your worst day of med school?
It was on my third-year surgical rotation, and I slept through my alarm. When I woke up, I had only five minutes before I had to catch the shuttle. It was just so upsetting. I grabbed my scrubs and was putting them on as I was running. I got there in time to see the bus pull away.

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Christyn Edmundson, 27, Neurology
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

What's the best medical TV show of all time?
M*A*S*H. I grew up on M*A*S*H. I had a huge crush on Hawkeye Pierce as a kid.

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Melissa Iammatteo, 28, Emergency Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Why the ER?
I like to be the first person to see the patient. That way it’s hard to get jaded.

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Evanthia Roussos, 30, Internal Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever seen or done?
On OB/GYN, there was a young patient who had an ovarian torsion—her ovary was basically twisted around itself. When she came into the operating room, they had to cut her open to remove the ovary, untwist it, and put it back in again. As soon as they made the incision, the ovary popped out. It looked like a moldy orange. And then suddenly it exploded. Like, everywhere. I was within seconds of passing out.

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Meagan Campol, 26, OB/GYN
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

What's the worst medical TV show of all time?
When I was in college, my roommates all watched Grey's Anatomy, and I tried my hardest to watch with them. I made it up until Katherine Heigel resuscitates a deer. That's when I was like, 'I'm over it. I'm done.'

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Lello Tesema, 29, Internal Medicine
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Is the President's healthcare reform good or bad for doctors?
It's on the right track, but I'm personally in favor of a single-payer health system, a true national health system.

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Max Kates, 28, Urology
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

How hard was med school?
The vast majority of days you spend talking to people, which is fun and exciting. One out of every 30 days is harder than people say it is. The other 29 are probably easier.

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Jonathan Giftos, 31, Internal Medicine
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

When friends or family ask you to diagnose them, are you flattered or annoyed?
Embarrassed. I usually don't know the answer.

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Jonatan Hernandez-Rosa, 26, Plastic Surgery
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Do you expect to make more or less money graduating from med school now than you would have graduating 20 years ago?
It's surprising how little people speak about money in med school. I could guess how much money people make in the department of surgery, but if you asked me right now what the starting salary for an attending is, I really wouldn’t know.

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David Nissan, 26, Psychiatry
Weill Cornell Medical College

Why did you want to go into psychiatry?
At the beginning of my fourth year, I did a surgery rotation at Walter Reed. At that point I was planning on doing trauma surgery. I met a soldier there that was very, very seriously injured and required a lot of surgical care. He was my patient, so in the morning I'd go in at four in the morning to see how he was doing, look at his wound, and move on with the day. I felt like a lot was missing. The time I had to interact with him was very brief. I needed to have more time to talk to him.

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Nathan Osbun, 28, Urology
Weill Cornell Medical College

What's the grossest thing you've seen or done in your career so far?
When I was on my urology rotation, I had the opportunity to drain a scrotal abscess.

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Son McLaren, 28, Pediatrics
Weill Cornell Medical College

What specialty would you never do?
OB/GYN. During my third-year clerkship, as soon as the baby was born, my eyes would kind of go toward the baby, and I would never pay attention to the woman. I was always very distracted by the babies.

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Richard Cruz, 32, Emergency Medicine
Weill Cornell Medical College

Do you expect to make more or less money graduating from med school now than you would have graduating 20 years ago?
Probably more. Emergency medicine is a more established field now.

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Andre Shaffer, 30, Orthopedic Surgery
Weill Cornell Medical College

Who or what made you want to become a doctor?
Before I got into medical school I was a firefighter in Seattle for seven years. In Seattle, firefighters do a lot of emergency medicine; and every time we'd get a patient to the hospital, I'd find myself handing them off and feeling like I wanted to do more.

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Stephanie Culver, 25, Otolaryngology
NYU School of Medicine

Did you become a germaphobe in med school?
I became terrified of sushi when we were learning about parasites. But you sort of come to a point through your medical school training when you realize that you're overreacting. You sort of talk yourself out of it.

So are you eating sushi again?
Yes, and I love it.

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Gregory Katz, 28, Internal Medicine
NYU School of Medicine

What's the grossest thing you've seen or done in your career so far?
Somebody who had had a perianal abscess that fistulized with their rectum, which means that they got an infection right near their external anal orifice that then created a hole with the inside of their rectum. I was responsible for cleaning out the wound and repacking it with sterile material. That was not a pleasant experience.

Photo: Danny Kim

David Zagha, 26, Internal Medicine
NYU School of Medicine

When friends or family ask you to diagnose them, are you flattered or annoyed?
I never get annoyed. First I get concerned, and then I get bashful. I know how little I know.

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Hayley Wolfgruber, 26, Pediatrics
NYU School of Medicine

Who or what made you want to become a doctor?
I thought pretty much throughout college that I wanted to be a marine biologist, and went abroad to Australia and kind of immersed myself in marine biology. But I realized that it did not give me the same satisfaction as working with people.

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Allison West, 26, Internal Medicine
NYU School of Medicine

Do you expect to make more or less money graduating from med school now than you would have graduating 20 years ago?
Less, but medicine offers a lot of job security. That's really valuable in this economy.

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Alon Mass, 26, Urology
NYU School of Medicine

When did you start telling people you wanted to become a doctor?
I think I was about eight years old. I used to write stories about a famous neurosurgeon who did the first brain transplant. And it was around that time that I got my appendix out. I remember not being scared at all, just being interested in what was going on.

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Syril Keena Que, 26, Dermatology
NYU School of Medicine

What was your worst day of med school?
My first anatomy exam.

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Alexandra Milin, 26, Internal Medicine
NYU School of Medicine

What was the grossest thing you've seen or done in your career so far?
Somebody with necrotizing fasciitis, which is a flesh-eating bacteria. It was right in the groin area, and it smelled absolutely not pleasant.

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Jason Corey Dukes, 29, Internal Medicine
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

What are some of the diseases or conditions you diagnosed yourself with along the way?
I actually had atrial fibrillation, a fluttering of the heart. I woke up one morning, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I think I'm having an a-fib.' And my roommates were like, 'Jason, Jason, we just studied this. Come on.' And I was like, 'No, I'm serious.' I live in a three-bedroom apartment, so my roommates came in, and also other medical students, and they came and listened to my heart, and they were like, 'Wait, I think you might actually be serious.' So me and my roommates snuck into the hospital, and stole an EKG machine to actually confirm it. We went to the emergency room with the EKG in-hand.

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Barbara Hamilton, 30, General Surgery
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Who or what made you want to become a doctor?
My parents did the possibly smart thing and bought me one of those toy doctor kits when I was a little kid. I used to actually lie under the kitchen table and listen to my heart with the plastic stethoscope. And it blew my mind that there was this organ beating inside my body that I could listen to.

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Alexandra Reynolds, 27, Neurology
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

What was your worst day of med school?
There was one day in anatomy lab when we transected a body. We just cut it in half with a saw. It's the kind of stuff that you have to do in order to learn, truly, what is inside the body. But even nowadays, if I think about anatomy, I can picture my cadaver. What we did to her was the kind of thing that serial killers do on TV.

Photo: Danny Kim

Hamerton Jeanty, 29, Internal Medicine
SUNY Downstate College of Medicine

What was your worst day of med school?
That's like asking a war hero, what's your hardest battle? When you're in med school, you always have this expectation of yourself far greater than anyone else does.

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Liz Floyd, 27, Otolaryngology
SUNY Downstate College of Medicine

Who or what made you want to become a doctor?
My dad was a paramedic. He had not been very diligent early in his life, and by the time he found medicine, it was too late for him to be a doctor. He was filled with a tremendous amount of regret about that.

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Rosanna Lee, 27, Anesthesiology
SUNY Downstate College of Medicine

Why become an anesthesiologist?
A lot of people say that anesthesia minimizes patient interaction, that you really don't talk to patients too much. I actually went into anesthesia because of the patient interaction. You deal with people when they're at their most vulnerable.

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