Resident: Dr. Rikesh Patel
Year: PGY 1
1) What residency program are you at, and what year are you?
I am a PGY-1 at Palmetto General Hospital and Hialeah Hospital in Hialeah, FL.
2) What are your thoughts on completing a fellowship versus going straight into practice after residency graduation?
I believe this based on the individual. No two programs are alike, and most of the attending’s I have worked with never completed a fellowship and are exceptional surgeons!
I believe that if you need additional training or want to specialize further, a fellowship is a great option to further hone our skills as a surgeon and practitioner. The only drawback that I think of going into a fellowship is you don’t get the pay raise one would get if they went straight to practice and you are essentially working on a resident’s salary for another year. Also, there are limited fellowships in the country, so most people who apply will end up not getting accepted and end up going straight into practice anyways. So, it’s a toss-up on what that particular person wants to do. But the new research does show a higher salary in podiatrists with a fellowship under their belts compared to those without.
3) What is the best part of residency, in your opinion?
The part of it all for me is scrubbing and assisting in all the cases.
Working between Hialeah and Palmetto General hospital we see a variety of cases, patients, and disease processes. The best part of it all for me is scrubbing and assisting in all the cases. In my program, we are the only surgical residents in the hospital and that gives us the freedom to work with podiatrists, orthopedic surgeons, plastic surgeons and surgical oncologists for us to build up our surgical skills with a variety of different techniques and styles. All the attending’s from all branches of medicine love working with us, and allow us to work on all cases, even the ones that are not lower extremity based.
4) What is your surgical case volume and type in a typical week at your program?
Trauma comes in waves.
You’ll hear that from all residents. With elective cases in the hospital, surgical centers we have privileges at, and the office ambulatory center, we have on average about 25 or so cases a week, not including Orthopedic, Plastics and Surg-Onc cases we also assist in.
5) If you had to pick again, would you pick podiatry and your program?
Originally when I was younger, my goals were to always be a surgeon, specifically in plastics and orthopedics. Podiatry is the best of both worlds, and I would not choose any other path. My program, as I said before, allows us to work with so many different types of surgeons, and our attending’s give us so much freedom from the moment the patient arrives at the hospital to pick plans of action, to how we will treat the patient, to performing the surgical procedure if necessary and post-operative care. I believe I chose the right program for me, and it will shape me up to be an excellent surgeon and practitioner.
6) What advice do you have for a (4th year) podiatry student?
First of all, congratulations on matching and graduating!
It is a tremendous accomplishment to finally finish boards, interviews, and Match. Enjoy your time until residency because once residency starts, you will be on working mode as a first-year resident. You have been preparing all year on externships working closely with the first years, and you are going to be one. You honestly know a lot more than you think, and the first few months will be a transition. Once you get a hang of it, everything will be like clockwork. Have great relationships with your upper years, attendings, and nursing staff. Your journey of being a physician/surgeon is about to start; be excited and energized you are going to do great!
7) What is your favorite surgery?
My favorite surgeries are ankle and tib-fib fractures.
8) What has been your favorite outside rotation?
Easily; it has to be Emergency Department, aka the ED.
You learn a lot, and have such a high patient load that it allows you to learn on the job and see the patient as a whole. I did my ED in the beginning of residency, and it helped me OR tremendously when evaluating my patients to this day.
9) What do you see for your future practice setting/case type? Has this changed since you were a student?
I am originally from Tampa, and I plan on moving back to central Florida once my training is done. I am big on trauma, so hopefully having privileges at a hospital with high trauma volumes. Then I want to work on getting an in-office operating room like my director so I can do everything in house, which is pretty much what I wanted when I was in medical school.
10) Finally, everyone is constantly learning, and new information is more available now than ever before. When you’re finding that things you’ve done or learned in the past are not correct, how do you respond to this?
Medicine is constantly evolving and changing, and a practice that was done in the past may not be the most effective or there may be new techniques that yield better results. My best advice is to be open-minded and have open lines communication with your peers, attending’s, mentors, and fellow colleagues. In my program, our attendings and upper-year residents are open to new ideas and techniques. They are always willing to teach us, whether it’s with courses or saw bone workshops to help us learn how to perform them.
Interview by Hector Santiago
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