Trios Health's first medical residents look back at year

Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldJuly 5, 2014 

Trios Residents

Current Trios Post Graduate Year Two residents Shahla Walizada, left, and Maria Persianinova, back right, present a lesson on underlying medical problems to incoming year one residents Kirk Blais, center, and Jazzlyn Gallardo, right, Friday at Trios Health's deBit Building. The second year residents, who are part of Trios Health's first group of residents, are helping to train this years incoming residents.

SARAH GORDON — Tri City Herald

They've tended to patients. They've attended lectures.

They've learned the ins and outs of their new community and also some important lessons about medicine and themselves.

They've lost out on sleep -- being a first-year resident is a demanding job.

But they've gained confidence.

And admirers too.

"It's been a really exciting year. It's been fantastic. These guys are phenomenal," said Dr. Heather Phipps, director of medical education for Trios Health.

The Kennewick-based health system launched its first residency programs last July, welcoming three young physicians -- Drs. Minh-Triet Vo, Shahla Walizada and Maria Persianinova.

A residency is an intensive training period after medical school, one that's required to become board-certified.

Trios' residency programs are the first of their kind in the Tri-Cities.

They'll soon have company; Kadlec in Richland is launching a family medicine residency program and plans to welcome its first class in 2015. It's part of the University of Washington Family Medicine Residency Network.

The local programs help address a need for more residency slots, as the U.S. faces a shortage of residency opportunities.

Officials also noted that the programs likely will bring more doctors permanently to the area, as many physicians end up settling and practicing in the communities where they trained.

Vo, Walizada and Persianinova spoke to the Herald last summer as they were starting their residencies, and they gathered again recently to reflect on their experiences so far and talk about what they expect in their second year.

Vo and Walizada are completing residencies in family medicine and Persianinova in internal medicine. Both programs take three years.

It was a good first year, all three told the Herald. They completed rotations in a variety of departments and specialties. Cared for their own patients in a clinic setting. Stepped up in their new roles.

In medical school "we were standing behind people all the time. (As residents), we're the ones right there with the patients. That gives you a different view," Vo said.

He and his two colleagues are all in their 30s. Vo and Walizada were medical school classmates at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, while Persianinova attended A.T. Still University-Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri.

All three had moments in the last year that stood out.

Persianinova mentioned a rotation in the ICU, which can be a high-stress place. "There are long hours. At the end of the day you feel kind of wiped out. But to me, those long hours or those long days are where I learned the most," she said.

Walizada recalled when a patient who was hooked up to machines and unable to talk, reached out and held her hand -- his way of thanking her for her care.

Vo spoke of helping a dying man's family connect with him and feel more comfortable in his final moments. Connecting with patients, he said -- "That's where the joy is."

It's still too early for Vo, Walizada and Persianinova to have nailed down the details of their post-residency career paths. But all said they look forward to their second year.

As they're moving up, Trios has a new group of six first-year residents coming in. Some already have started and others will be soon.

Vo, Walizada and Persianinova will take on a leadership role with them and already have held some sessions.

In their interview with the Herald, they talked about advice they'll pass on -- like being sure to carve out a little time for yourself to read a book, enjoy a cup of tea, catch up with a friend.

What about advice they'd give themselves if they could go back in time to their first day of their first year of residency? What would they want to know about the whirlwind year that lay ahead?

"There's never enough medical knowledge," so keep studying, Persianinova said.

"Relax, it will be OK," said Walizada.

Vo said it will be like a roller coaster. "Get strapped in properly. Don't fall out. You'll be OK. Take a deep breath. Here we go."

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