LMC new residents talk about their experience

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Putting on a white coat is no small feat, as many current doctors and specialists can attest. Yet after the fifth cohort of Laredo Medical Center’s residency program slipped on their coat sleeves for the first time, it looks like the hard work has just begun as the 16 doctors will work in a medically underserved city that has desperately need support.

The LMC’s first-year internal medicine resident and Dr. Andres Martinez de Laredoan said that before donning the mantle, he felt nervous but thrilled to be initiated and to start working at the LMC. He praised his 15 colleagues, as he said the process to achieve the white coat is long and often arduous with hours of work and testing, before they even begin their time at LMC.


While the Webb County area has been marred by years of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, solutions to address issues for county residents are underway. In 2021, the Webb County Clinic was opened to county employees and their families. It provides a subsection of free community health checkups, including a focus on diabetes and hypertension.

Now, Martinez and his seven colleagues in internal medicine will be a line of defense and support for these residents. He said internal medicine is all-inclusive, as the eight doctors will work as primary caregivers to patients with hypertension or diabetes and will have the option of working as hospital workers.

This may allow one of the new residents to open their own private practice or participate in a fellowship to become a specialist. As a local resident, Martinez said he looks forward to the next three years.

“I am ready, and I look forward to the next three years to continue with the same enthusiasm to help people,” he said.

Dr. Christopher Ganson, another first-year resident, said that, like Martinez, he was also nervous but excited to get started. During the white coat ceremony, members of the medical community and family members all have high hopes for the fifth cohort.

“A lot of us worked very hard, took many years, went to graduate school, worked and got through – it’s just a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication. But we overcame, and we are here and are thrilled to be here,” he said.

Amid the pandemic, the medical community has been recognized by many grateful locals whose loved ones have faced many hardships in dealing with COVID-19. It was a similar situation around the world, but as a medically underserved community, the issues were magnified, such as limited staff, no pediatric intensive care unit, and high rate of uninsured residents. .

Finding new physicians to stay in Laredo and retaining them is a major factor in designation, as former health authority Dr. Victor Trevino has stated, there are a number of deciding factors for physicians as to the place where they will continue to practice medicine.

Laredo’s language barrier, excessive heat, distance from major cities, culture and salaries may be a deciding factor in whether nurses and doctors leave or stay in the area, Trevino said in 2021. Whatever Either way, the 2018 launch of the residency program has now seen five cohorts and has been a core solution by the LMC and Gateway Community Health Center collaboration.

“We all have a passion for medicine and a passion for helping the underserved, and we love being part of a community and serving that community,” Ganson said.

Dr. Sabrina Chen, an LMC hospitalist, was part of the inaugural cohort of the LMC residency program where she started as a family medicine resident. Having graduated a year prior, she called it a great experience, although a bit different from a typical residency, as LMC residents didn’t have senior level residents. Still, the staff present were approachable, helpful, and helped the inaugural class push themselves further as doctors.

“I’m really happy with my three years as a resident here in Laredo. After I graduated I started applying to the inpatient program here in Laredo, and after I graduated I always worked with the same company I was at in the Houston area, but now I had the opportunity to come back about three months ago,” Chen said.

She praised the residents she worked with and their overall growth as physicians. Chen’s return, experience and understanding of the residency program will undoubtedly be a boon to the fifth cohort. His return also highlights the achievements of Jorge Leal and Elmo Lopez — CEOs of LMC and Gateway Community Health Center, respectively — in seeing graduating residents continue their work in the Laredo community.

As a preceptor, teacher or instructor for the LMC inpatient department, Chen will work with incoming residents on primary care for inpatient and outpatient rotations. Inpatient ward training will serve as preparation for residents interested in continuing their work as a hospitalist. They are physicians who care for inpatients and can work with both inpatient and outpatient cases.

“I’m pretty sure they’ll have a really good experience in terms of the program we’ve put in place for them, and they’ll learn a lot of anything that will help them develop their style of practice as they get graduating and they will find out what they really want to do,” Chen said in advice to new LMC residents. “Whether they want to do inpatients, outpatients, research a specialty… I think this residency will prepare well and will give them an idea of ​​the post-graduation lifestyle and what they want to be.”

Besides her personal experience in the LMC’s three-year residency program, Chen’s experience also coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. As the medical staff in 2022 has more experience and the vital COVID-19 vaccine, 2020 was a different situation.

Chen said that at the start of the pandemic, fear set in as the first wave of cases passed through hospitals around the world. Without the vaccine, the situation was more serious as patients entering the hospital suffered from acute respiratory distress, needed ventilators and/or respiratory support.

The pandemic has tested the expertise and experience of doctors, nurses and medical staff as well as the majority of other career fields. Chen described the usual COVID patient being admitted as a chance finding through mandatory testing of each patient, not respiratory distress.

Since the vaccine has made the COVID-19 pandemic less severe than in 2020, the resident program experience will be different for the new class, but not easier. All physicians will still have to tackle a medically underserved community and fulfill the Hippocratic Oath.

This same oath was sworn by the 16 new residents and showed the community their commitment to the welfare of others with the tremendous skills that a doctor has and needs in the field.

The modern version of the oath, written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, dean of the Tufts University School of Medicine, reads:

“I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

“I will respect the hard-earned scientific gains of those physicians in whose footsteps I walk, and I will gladly share the knowledge that is mine with those who follow me.

“I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all the measures [that] are necessary, avoiding the double trap of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

“I will remember that there is art in medicine as well as in science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding can trump the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s medicine.

“I will not be ashamed to say ‘I don’t know’, nor will I hesitate to call on my colleagues when another’s skills are needed for a patient’s recovery.

“I will respect the privacy of my patients, as their problems are not disclosed to me for the world to know. In particular, I must exercise caution in matters of life and death. If given any save a life, thank you But it may also be in my power to take a life, this formidable responsibility must be faced with great humility and awareness of my own fragility and above all, I must not play God.

“I will remember that I am not treating a fever picture, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the family and economic stability of the person. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I have to treat adequately the patient .

“I will prevent disease whenever I can, because prevention is better than cure.

“I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations towards all my fellow human beings, the healthy in mind and body as well as the infirm.

“If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected during my life and fondly remembered afterwards. May I always act in such a way as to preserve the finest traditions of my vocation and may I long know the joy of healing those who seek my help.

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