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It Starts with Pizza

June 11, 2017

Hello everyone,

In the beginning, there is pizza, baked in a green truck and spread on tables, near a white tent to shade us from the sun. In New Haven, we become friends over pizza- thin-crusted, nearly burnt, topped with clams, artichokes, peppers, onions, basil, and fresh tomatoes. We circle back to try each kind, but save room for chocolate gelato, or lemon if you prefer.

Tomorrow morning, 54 Traditional Interns (41 categorical and 13 preliminary) will start orientation. Another will join us in spirit as we wait for the state department to let her cross the border. They will converge from all directions, smiling and handshaking, masking uncertainty that- to this observer- is plain to see. Our interns are scientists and teachers, artists and athletes, men and women, American-born and immigrants. Before they really start work, they'll absorb rules and memoranda and wonder how they'll remember anything. We'll reassure them. We'll photograph them. We'll slip their arms into gleaming lab coats. We'll simulate emergencies, calling consults, speaking with patients, and presenting on rounds. We'll ponder professionalism, visit clinics, and drive to West Haven. We'll become family.

Our interns will make us proud this year, as they always do. Like generations before them, they will commit themselves to scholarship and teaching, and, most importantly, becoming skilled, compassionate, kind physicians. The trek before them is long, rocky, and steep, but with the right traveling companions and powerful fuel, the climb promises gorgeous views, extraordinary adventures, and a worthy destination. The trip starts tomorrow morning with a breakfast meeting, followed by pizza, at noon, in Amistad Park.

Hope to see you there.



PS- a collection of welcomes and advice from residents and faculty:

"I distinctly remember my first day of intern year on the wards. I was on the CCU and terrified -- but what I learned was that the team of residents supporting me, teaching me and encouraging me far superseded any of my fears. As a matter of fact it solidified why I love Yale so much!"

-Nicolette Juliana Rodriguez (PGY2)

"Welcome to Yale! We are all so excited to meet you and work with you. I remember this time last year, I was so nervous about starting intern year. But looking back, I couldn't have asked for a better program. Everyone here is so supportive and you are all going to have a great time and learn a lot. So those of you who are nervous about starting intern year, please don't be because WE GOT YOU!"

-Steffne Kunnirickal (PGY2)

"Welcome to Yale! Residency’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t forget to nourish your soul as well as your body. Be kind to yourself and to your colleagues. If you stumble, there’ll always be someone to get you back up. Together, you’ll get through it. It goes by faster than you think."

-Pranay Sinha (New Graduate and YNHH Hospitalist)

"Welcome to the Yale family!!'

-Juliette Spelman (VA Clinic Preceptor)

"The beginning of internship is an exciting but at times overwhelming experience. Whenever I need some inspiration, I remember this quote by Calvin Coolidge: 'Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.'"

-Manisha Juthani-Mehta (APD)

"During the first week on the wards, the answer to virtually every question a nurse asks you will either be 'yes, I will order Tylenol for that patient' or 'I need to check that patient's chart before I [change that med/order a diet/run that test]'. Either one of these answers will buy you time to find your resident and ask for help. Ordering Tylenol is actually the answer to most questions, except 'how should we treat that acetaminophen overdose?'."

-Jason Beckta (Radiation Oncology)

"I remember my first day of intern year starting in the MICU. I was so nervous about putting in orders that I stared at Epic for a solid five to ten minutes to make sure I ordered Miralax correctly on a patient. Just know that everything gets easier and you will have very patient residents to help along the way."

-Corey O'Brien (PGY2)

"Welcome to the Yale family! Some of the best medical advice given to me was by my grandfather, a now retired gastroenterologist: 'There is nothing that you can do in the name of patient care that is beneath your dignity.'

-Ethan Bernstein (PGY2)

"I made some of the best friends of my life in residency." And "Remember this: it's normal to feel awkward and out of place, that feeling is temporary. The hospital does not work without interns like you, you have an important job and supportive people to help you learn how to do it. Don't be afraid of seeing as many patients as you can, they are waiting to teach you all you need to know."

-Tara Sanft (Attending Oncologist)

"Welcome to the nicest IM residency in the country. I can't say how awesome my fellow residents are. There will be challenges adjusting to intern year, but we will support you though it! We are so excited to have you join us! Some stories:

My last 28 hour call of intern year, my friend totally surprised me with insomnia cookies at midnight thanks to a sneaky officer

On Christmas Day in the MICU, my resident let me go home early to see my family (who lives far away) visiting in town - I had yet to physically see them due to the crazy schedule

Attendings who buy food for you out of their own pocket, even if you're not on their team

Someone covering for me last minute, telling me don't worry about figuring out the trade right now, so I didn't have to do nights before taking Step 3

Photographing a fellow intern's proposal (!) with a wild scavenger hunt with another intern (Red Block love!)

Amazing (and strong) interns who carry all your belongings up 4 flights of stairs for 5 hours when the elevator breaks down in your new apartment moving in

Silly white elephant Christmas exchange (the best prize - a Yale gnome ornament inside a deceptive J Crew box)

A PD who actually knows your hobbies and your life outside medicine, and encourages you to continue it”

-Natalie Uy (PGY2)

"Welcome!! You guys will all be fantastic!! Also, enjoy orientation week :)"

-Marina Mutter (PGY3)

“As a new member of the Yale community myself, I can say with confidence that you are entering a welcoming and exciting institution! Being a physician is fun- you are going to love it. (And remember - if the first day is tough, the first day of everything is hard- then it gets better.) Can't wait to meet you

-Jane Andrews (APD)

“We're so excited you're part of the Yale family. Be prepared to meet some of your best friends. Ps if you're feeling anxious to start intern year, I want you to know I didn't know how to start a progress note or put in an order for Tylenol on my first day. You'll do great!”

-Lindsay Vendetta (PGY2)

“When I began my intern year, I soon realized that I have become a new member of a family. I feel very excited that now you are joining our family and I am looking forward to embarking on another year of working, learning, and having fun together. Welcome to Yale!”

-Hamed Emami (PGY3)

"Welcome to the family!"

-Rebecca Slotkin (PGY2)

“Welcome to Yale and to New Haven! Don't stress too much, since as your residents we are here to support you. Enjoy your year, learn a lot, have fun, and be the best physician you can be. Looking forward to meeting all of you!”

-Eric Jordan (PGY2)

“On your long shifts, when you are feeling tired and have many notes to write, give yourself 5 minutes to get a glass of water and a snack-- that small action is surprising quite refreshing.”

-Lauren Pischel (PGY2)

“Welcome, welcome to Yale Medicine's newly minted physicians! I can't wait to meet you all! I remember the start of intern year well: I started in the CCU. Despite my initial intimidation of the CCU and the fears of having to start my doctoring career in an intensive care unit, even day one went smoothly. My whole team, from patient care technician to attending, was so nice I felt well-supported in my new role. Even on what may feel like the most challenging days, remember that you are never alone. Just remember: you are here to learn, to live your dream of being a doctor and- whether you intended to or not- form new, close relationships with a brand new set of extremely smart, fun and loving colleagues. Have fun during orientation. See you all soon!”

-M. Elizabeth Card (PGY3)

“We are all very excited to welcome you to the Yale Internal Medicine Family! All of the current residents are looking forward to meeting each and every one of you. As a rising PGY-2, I will definitely acknowledge that I was nervous, scared, and intimidated to be starting at Yale, but with the support of all of the residents, those feelings quickly subsided within the first week. We have a wonderful program, top to bottom, filled with compassionate and caring people, which makes working here stress free and quite enjoyable. Enjoy Orientation!”

-Mark Connor (PGY2)

“Welcome to Yale! We're so excited to have you here with us. I can't believe just a year ago I was in your shoes. Intern year at Yale is excellent. It's certainly challenging but not as bad as I feared. I've learned so much and met so many great people. One thing I appreciate about Yale is how much the housestaff all enjoy each other's company and support each other. We look forward to you all being a part of that tradition. If there's anything I can do for you or any questions I can answer please text or call me at 662-889-4910 or e-mail me at Before you know it you will be adjusted to your new role and Yale and New Haven will feel like home.”

-Phil Nickerson (PGY2)

“Welcome to Yale and New Haven. You are in for a lot of fun and lots of learning with people who care a lot about you. Don’t hesitate to reach out; we are here for you!”

-Inginia Genao (Medical Director, Yale Primary Care Center and Associate Chair for Diversity and Inclusion)

Submitted by Mark David Siegel on June 11, 2017