I’ve been at Yale since 1992. Back then, my hair was brown and Heide was at home with our 3-month-old daughter, Gabrielle. We lived in a small white colonial in Meriden, and I was commuting 20 miles each way in our first car, a black Mazda 323.
I’d flirted with Yale twice before. When I applied to medical school, Yale’s thesis requirement intimidated me, and I didn’t feel disciplined enough to go to a school that had no exams. When I applied to residency, I was repelled by the cramped offices and New Haven’s dingy streets. On one of the two visits, someone warned me not to walk downtown, and while I’m sure the advice was well-meaning, the damage was done. The hospital wasn’t as beautiful as it is now, nor was Chapel Street as safe or interesting.
I was ultimately drawn to Yale by two people, Jack Elias* and Richard Matthay. Jack had just become Chief of Pulmonary. Barely 40, his career was blazing. He was already renowned for his research, and he was soon to revolutionize the field with transgenic models of ARDS and asthma. He had huge plans for the Section and, it seemed, for me. He’d also come to New Haven with a young family and, when we finished interviewing, he suggested that Heide call his wife, Sandy, to discuss neighborhoods.
Richard Matthay also radiated possibility. He was a master clinician and educator, the author of classic papers on critical care physiology and the editor of a key textbook, which I later read from cover to cover. He was charismatic. He wanted to know all about me and my family. He took notes. I knew he would devote himself to my success and well-being, as he did for all his fellows.
Starting at Yale felt like coming home. The nurses and respiratory therapists were committed partners. The pulmonary faculty were like big brothers and sisters. The Department was filled with legends who were approachable and generous. You know who they are- they’re still here. Nearly three decades later, I can’t imagine Yale without them. The most brilliant faculty were also humble listeners, which is a practice I strive to emulate.
As a trainee and junior faculty member, I was given precious votes of confidence. Where else would a 33-year-old be asked to direct a MICU, and given the support needed to succeed? Everyone was valued. All questions were welcomed. All opinions mattered. We taught each other. We explored big ideas. We collaborated.
After nearly three decades at Yale, I’m here to stay. As Vinny Quagliarello tells residency applicants, things have never been better. We’re not perfect, but we work hard to improve. We value trainees’ contributions. We assume the best of each other. We lift each other up. We laugh. We work hard for our patients and community. We are a family.
Next week, residency recruitment season starts again. We’ll get thousands of applications, and those selected to interview will be talented enough to go anywhere. When they visit, we’ll feature our unparalleled research opportunities, world-class hospitals, and extraordinary teachers. We’ll highlight our Distinction Programs and Mentorship-Advising-Coaching (MAC) system, our Global Health and writing opportunities, our fellowship matches and specialty rotations, and our commitment to resident self-governance. The applicants who match with us will be drawn to our devotion—dating back to Paul Beeson and beyond—to community, collaboration, creativity, and kindness. They’ll want to call this wonderful place home.
In the days ahead, consider what you love about Yale and our residency. Why did you come? Why do you stay? Please tell me. I’ll share your thoughts with the applicants.
Enjoy your Sunday, everyone. I’m going to climb East Rock today, before starting two weeks in the MICU tomorrow.
*Dr. Elias will be visiting next week for Grand Rounds, and I hope you get to meet him.