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Dr Guy Helman, eight months into residency

We sat down with Dr Guy Helman, a 2022 UQ-Ochsner graduate, to discuss his medical journey and transition to residency.
Student stories
Published 27 Feb, 2023  ·  3.5 minutes

Tell us a bit about your medical journey.

I grew up on the East Coast in Princeton, New Jersey. I went to undergrad in Washington, DC and during my final year of undergrad, I started working at the Children's National Hospital in DC, which is where I started my medical journey.

I did a couple of years as a research coordinator there in the Neurogenetics division before coming to UQ-Ochsner, where I did my MD/PhD alongside my medical studies.

I did a PhD in genomics but during my clinical rotations at Ochsner, I was figuring out where I wanted to be clinically. My PhD had been very focused on neurogenetics, and I was sold on that path but realised more and more as I got into the clinical realm that my clinical and research interest didn't align.

Eventually, I found the Paediatric ICU or the PICU. I loved the environment. I loved working with families. I loved the medicine and everything that we discussed as a team to provide the best care for our patients. And so, I decided that post medical school I would pursue a career in Critical Care, which landed me at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia or CHOP. I’m now eight months into my residency year here.

How have you found the transition from medical student to resident?

The transition was quite overwhelming. My hospital is close to the size of the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, but it is a standalone paediatric hospital. Our program has been great at easing us through the transition. We start with an orientation and then have a graduated autonomy scheme. By the time you're two or three months in you kind of have your feet a little bit more on the ground. You recognise the team structure, you recognise the hospital structure, and then it becomes much easier. You then find yourself taking on different roles in the various teams that you're on. Our rotations flip a lot too, so we do a lot of adjustments on the fly. I think that's one thing that has helped me to just be ready to kind of transition over to a new role. Whether it's covering our general paediatrics team and then switching over the next day to solely working with endocrine patients or going to the ED or the NICU (neonatal ICU).

Why did you choose CHOP?

For me getting matched at CHOP was a dream come true. It's not something that I would not have thought would've been possible going into the UQ-Ochsner program.

Specifically, I think the reasons that I chose CHOP were that I knew it was going to be a high-volume hospital where I was going to see everything I needed and more. I see a lot more things than I would ever have expected to. I see the run-of-the-mill variant cases, but the volume is so high for us that I know that I'm getting all the training that I need and that was important to me.

I was also unsure of whether I wanted to pursue a solely clinical career or a clinical and academic career. I was offered the opportunity to fast-track my residency and get to fellowship a little bit sooner by doing a research track. I've decided not to, based on my heavy clinical interest in the ICU, but I had that option being here at CHOP as it is a great academic environment that's well supported by the University of Pennsylvania.

So those were the two driving factors.

What do your fellow residents think of your medical school journey?

I'm the only International Medical Graduate (IMG) in my residency program. I think everyone is kind of curious, they ask questions about Australia and recognise that this program is unique. When I talk to attendings and fellows about my experience they're all like, ‘why didn't we do something like that?’ They're also curious about the structure of the program. What we learn in the Australian healthcare system and what facets of the program I thought helped me to get to where I am now.

Watch UQ-Ochsner webinar: Six months as a resident on YouTube.

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