“I Can’t Believe I Am Lucky Enough to be Around the People I Work With”
For new Einstein internal medicine resident Shannon Tosounian, DO, there was never any question: It was always medicine. What form that calling would take was unclear, but her sights were always set on health care.
Initially, after receiving a master’s degree in physiology at UCLA, Tosounian focused on research, only to find it wasn’t really what she wanted. “It lacked the day-to-day immediate impact you could have on a patient,” she says.
And for that kind of impact, she needed to become a doctor. So Tosounian returned to school, attending Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, to earn her medical degree.
But earning a medical degree alone is far from the end of the story. What follows is residency; the rigorous post-medical school training that typically takes place in a hospital. The question is always where to go for that training. Where do you want to go? And who is opening the door to you?
“At the beginning of the process,” Tosounian says, “you send your applications to wherever you would want to go for residency, and you interview at as many as possible.” She applied to 25 programs and was interviewed at 12.
The interview process, she adds, is a two-way street. “It’s not just the residency committee interviewing you,” Tosounian says, “it’s you interviewing them.”
After that, she says, “you sit down and you think long and hard about your list and how you rank the programs, and the programs do the same. It’s a little bit of a lottery, but you get a sense of where you would want to be.”
‘I’m really excited to be here. I go home exhausted but excited about my day.’
What then follows is a one-day event—the third Friday in March—called “The Match,” sometimes described as a “rite of passage” for medical students, when they find out where they are going to spend the next several years in residency. The 2015 Match drew more than 41,000 applicants—the most ever.
The wait leading up to Match Day was difficult, says Tosounian, but the day itself came as a relief. Until that day, she says, “you have to wait until then before you see where you’re packing your bags and moving.”
Happily—both for her and the program—Tosounian was accepted into the internal medicine residency program at Einstein.
“Overall, I was looking for strong academics and research, internal medicine, and a community-based hospital,” she says. At Einstein, she says, she got exactly what she had hoped for. The fact that a diverse community surrounds EMCP is a decided plus.
“The pathology is different, the care is different, and there is a bigger need,” Tosounian says. But she was looking for more than that. She was looking for a sense of belonging, a welcoming atmosphere. Einstein, she says, has “a community feeling.”
More than anything else, Tosounian was hoping to work in an atmosphere of excellence. She believes she has found what she was looking for at Einstein.
“I can’t believe I am lucky enough to be around the people I work with. The caliber of our residents is just so fantastic.” That they also happen to be genuinely kind people who take care of other, she says, is a bonus.
Residency can be a demanding experience, and at Einstein it is, but none of this came as any surprise to Tosounian.
“I think when you enter medical school,” Tosounian says, “You know it’s coming. You know it will be the most challenging part of your training. But I’m really excited to be here. I go home exhausted but excited about my day.”