Life in Seattle

UWFMR prides itself on having a diverse array of residents from all over the country. Here’s what they have to say about their experience at UWFMR:

What drew you to UWFMR?

“I was drawn by the rigorous curriculum at a program known for excellence in training. I love the diversity of training sites in addition to the vast opportunity to rotate among WWAMI sites. Our Department of Family Medicine is robust with experts in nearly all areas, which affords a choose-your-own-adventure charisma. Ultimately though, it was the people.” – Matt Wise, 2022 

“The Vietnamese/urban underserved populations at Harborview. Also, I really enjoyed the people I met. On our interview day, when we opened with an opinion about our favorite donuts, I knew it was love.” – Viet Nguyen, 2020 

“I fell in love with Seattle when I visited. I really liked the residents and faculty I met and was very drawn by the opportunity practice at Harborview serving underserved and diverse patients.” – Jose Flores-Rodarte, 2021 

“In addition to the incredible clinical training I knew I’d get at UW, I remember feeling that the residents and faculty at UW had such diverse passions in Family Medicine. The opportunities here felt endless. I realized that no matter what special interest within Family Medicine I’d hope to pursue during residency, I’d find support and mentorship here.” – Jon Staloff, 2022 

“I have always been very interested in healthcare transformation.  The Seattle area is one of the most vibrant primary care ecosystems in the country. I also wanted to maintain at least 1 foot in an academic center to stay grounded, and I think this is the best place in the country to do a little bit of both.” – Justin Kappel, 2020 

“Being from New York, I was looking to train in a place where family medicine was respected and primary care was a “normal” thing to do. I was told that moving west was the answer, and that turned out to be completely right! I loved UW because I planned to be (and now am!) an abortion provider, and UW has an excellent Reproductive Health program where all graduates can become competent to perform abortions without a fellowship. I also really wanted to stay at an academic institution. I wanted the support of having 1400 other residents and fellows and all the infrastructure and programming that comes with that (for example free on site therapy, friends in all different specialties, and the labor union UWHA).” – Zoe Sansted, 2020 

“I have lived in Washington State for my entire life. I have a deep connection with this state, this region, and the diverse set of communities that call the PNW home. UWFMR, and specifically the rural track in Chelan, have given me the chance to serve these communities, and to give back to my home. Upper Left USA!” – Andrew Gray, 2022 

“There are amazing people doing interesting research!” – Allison Cummings, 2021 

“The opportunity to have robust, full spectrum family medicine training in an urban academic setting AND opportunities to train in rural underserved communities in the WWAMI region.” – Jessica Lu, 2021  

“The breadth of patient populations we serve, settings we work in, and opportunity to train in urban, suburban, and rural settings. The beautiful nature, good food scene, and bike-friendly nature helped too!” – Alex Chen, 2022 

What is your funniest/most proud/most memorable moment of residency?
  • My sides splitting from laughter with the Family Medicine inpatient team at the end of a day shift. 
  • The madness of long call at Harborview. 
  • I don’t know if I have a single proudest moment, but I feel so proud and humbled any time a patient I see in clinic for the first time asks me to serve as their primary care doctor, and when I see them for a first follow-up visit. It is such a privilege for someone to place that trust in me. It’s a feeling that hasn’t stopped feeling special.  
  • There are so many! There is the time I tried to teach a medical student (now Jack Mo, 2022) about when it is okay to tell patients that you do not believe their story, just because a gentleman claimed he had been kidnapped by Ukrainian separatists and then kicked out of that country for smuggling Omaha steaks. We later quasi-confirmed the Ukrainian terrorist story so maybe instead Jack Mo taught me a lesson about listening to people. 
  • I stitched a horizontal mattress on a 3 year old boy under only local sedation, afterward he said, “I want to be a doctor when I grow up.” 
  • At our program retreat this past year, the Class of 2021 put on an amazing sock puppet show where they impersonated our most loved/quirky faculty and staff. It was hilarious. Our 2019-2020 Chief Nikki also sang a parody of Gangster’s Paradise that was even better than the Weird Al version. 
  • Seeing our residents staff the front lines during COVID. I am so proud to be a part of this crew! 
  • Visiting one of my primary patients in the hospital after a complex surgery and hearing her say, ”It’s so good to see your face.”  
  •  It was the middle of the night – I had just delivered a baby when I got an admission page from the ED for a patient with a rare hematologic disease. It didn’t even phase me to switch gears. I truly felt like a Family Medicine physician in that moment.  
What advice do you have for incoming residents?

There is framed quote in the newborn nursey at UWMC-Montlake that says, in a world where you can be anything, be kind. – Viet Nguyen, 2020 

Get ready for a period of great growth alongside amazing people! – Matt Wise, 2022 

Take your time now to relax, travel if you can, see your friends and family. There will be plenty of time for work and study once July 1st hits. – Jose Flores-Rodarte, 2021 

Find a program where you will be happy outside of residency and make sure you take time to live your life outside of the hospital. – Claire Simon, 2022 

The best part about moving from medical school to residency is that we do not have to THINK quite so much about what we are going to do. You just have to do it. Less homework. More real work. Even though it is stressful, it can also be a ton of fun and super rewarding. – Justin Kappel, 2020 

Don’t take things too seriously. Remember that the patients you meet during your day job as a doctor might be having the worst day of their entire lives. – Greg Lavins, 2021 

Intern year is a purely learning experience, so it’s ok to not know things. You aren’t doing it for the grade anymore, you’re doing it for your knowledge and your patients. – Joey Nelson, 2022 

In terms of applying, I think it’s a good idea to consider whether programs are a part of a union, as it gives you a lot of support and representation during a very challenging time. After you match, don’t do any studying or work! Just relax and enjoy life! You’ll learn all of it when you get here. – Zoe Sansted, 2020 

Eat, sleep, and do something non-medical every day. Your wellness is vital to caring for others. Relinquish all assumptions, egos, and feelings of shame: we are all learners and not knowing something is better than pretending to know it. Identify what about medicine excites you and gives you purpose, and work those things into your routine as much as possible. We all do rotations we don’t love and learn things we aren’t passionate about, but it is all in the pursuit of filling in our gaps to better care for patients in the future. – Andrew Gray, 2022 

Be an advocate. Be an advocate for your patients, your colleagues, your medical students, and your community. As a physician, you have more power than you may realize. Stand up for what is right and what you believe in. – Jessica Lu, 2021 

There’s always going to be someone smarter than you, and that’s okay! Stay grateful for the intelligent, passionate people around you, and learn as much as you can from them! – Allison Cummings, 2021 

Be kind to yourself and others, but don’t lower your standards. – Alex Chen, 2022 

Hobbies

Our residents have unique and varied interests, both inside and outside of the hospital. Some of our hobbies include but are not limited to the following:

Favorite Seattle 'Hidden Gem'
  • West Seattle bike loop past the Coleman pool 
  • Dirty Couch Brewery (best sour beers in Seattle) 
  • The Seattle Dogs (hot dogs with cream cheese) on the street of Capitol Hill at night. SO GOOD. 
  • The magical beach in the middle of the Seward Park loop 
  • 45th Street Stop N Shop and Poke Bar. Amazing poke, reasonable prices. I have no poke related financial disclosures. Also, there’s a cafe open 24 hours in the Harborview Medical Center Cafeteria that has surprisingly good ice cream. 
  • Fremont Peak Park. Awesome view of Ballard and the Olympics. Best sunset in town. 
  • Ravenna Park, University Wines on Sandpoint (vintage Champagne for $35+!) 
  • The Puget Sound Basketball League 
  • “Pitch n Putt” in Green Lake (cheap golf any day of the week) 
  • Chucks Hop Shop (Land of 1000 beers!) 
  • Voula’s Offshore Cafe (Greasy spoon breakfast, warms the soul) 
  • The off-leash dog park in Magnuson Park. So many good boys and girls! 
  • Hiroki Bakery in Wallingford 
  • Seattle and King County parks. There is such a variety, from manicured city-style parks with play areas to those that transport you out of the city. 
What is the most quintessential 'Seattle' thing you own, or activity you have done?
  • Impulse purchasing a kayak the summer of my intern year. I’ve used it a whole 1 time. 
  • Deciding between the aeropress, Moka pot, French press, pour over, or drip coffee machine for my daily caffeine intake. 
  • Riding around town with 2 cats in the back of a Subaru with the radio blaring KEXP 
  • Bike as my primary mode of transport 
  • Scurry around Seattle foraging for fresh fruit 
  • Own a Russell Wilson Seahawks jersey 
  • I always bring people to the Fremont Troll when they come visit. 
  • I love the Underground Tour! A must-do, super interesting (and they have a haunted one too). 
  • I love walks in Discovery Park. 
  • I bike almost every day to rotations, got a dog during COVID-geddon, started brewing kombucha, and raised my own sourdough starter. 
  • Not sure, I’ve never known anything else 🙂
If I weren't a doctor I would be...

“A small business owner who podcasts and does radio on the side” – Matt Wise, 2022 

“A standup comedian and comedy writer” – Jessica Lu, 2021 

“An owner of a bookshop/coffeeshop with a menu inspired by literary books.” – Viet Nguyen, 2020 

“A travel/food/culture writer” – Jose Flores-Rodarte, 2021 

“ESL teacher or dog trainer” – Claire Simon, 2022 

“Playing one on television” – Jon Staloff, 2022 

“A sketchy wellness quack! I would have opened a bakery/yoga studio/youth hostel/community activism center and slowly amassed a cult following of my generic mindfullness-based wellness practices. The power and influence would eventually go to my head and I would end up peddling unproven patent medicines online to a progressively sketchier audience until I eventually crossed a line into ‘practicing medicine without a license’ and was arrested for fraud. In other words…I’m glad I got into medical school.” – Justin Kappel, 2020 

“An author or a brick layer” – Greg Lavins, 2021 

“A middle school basketball coach” – Joey Nelson, 2022 

“A social worker and/or a musical theater producer” – Zoe Sansted, 2020 

“Probably a brewer” – Andrew Gray, 2022 

“An investigative journalist” – Allison Cummings, 2021 

“Building health technology tools and an amateur architect” – Alex Chen, 2022