Michelle Sibille Senechalle, MD, CMQ, FACP, on practicing complex care and providing comfort to patients


Michelle Sibille Senechalle, MD, CMQ, FACP
Michelle Sibille Senechalle, MD, CMQ, FACP
Assistant Professor, Department of Hospital Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Inpatient Medical Director, Hospital Medicine and Specialties

University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

Baylor College of Medicine

What is your current position?

I am Assistant Professor in the Department of Hospital Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Inpatient Medical Director for Hospital Medicine and Specialties.

Where did you attend medical school and postgrad training?

I went to medical school at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and attended residency at Baylor College of Medicine.

Why did you choose to become a physician?

Becoming a physician wasn't my original plan—I went to undergrad for biomedical engineering. However, along the way, I realized that I wanted to work directly with patients. I still have my love for systems and process improvement, which I fortunately get to combine with bedside medicine in my hospital work.

What field of internal medicine did you select and why?

I am a hospitalist, and more specifically an onco-hospitalist. This means I am the primary physician for patients with cancer hospitalized at MD Anderson, working closely with their outpatient oncologist. I really enjoy the hospital setting because I like working with high-acuity patients and collaborating with different specialists in real time to care for patients. What I specifically love about being an onco-hospitalist is the ability to coordinate care in very complex cases and really practice the human aspect of being a physician by helping to guide our patients and provide comfort through difficult times.

Please describe a typical day in your practice.

As a hospitalist, my practice is entirely inpatient and I am on an alternating-weeks clinical schedule. Monday through Sunday every other week I round on an inpatient team. On the alternating week, I have protected time to work on administrative tasks, continued education, and institutional or scholarly projects. My patient care days consist of rounding on patients in the hospital, coordinating the plan of care with other health care team members, calling family members, spending time in my office placing orders and reviewing charts, attending educational conferences, and attending meetings related to department or hospital operations.

What are some of your special interests professionally?

I am interested in quality improvement, patient safety, and hospital operations. The engineer in me really enjoys working to improve the outcomes and efficiency of the system that is hospital care. I also have an interest in palliative care and improving the care provided at end of life.

What are your interests and hobbies outside of medicine?

I love spending time with my family, which I'm proud to say has recently grown as my husband and I just welcomed our first child! I also enjoy cooking, travel, and the performing arts.

What advice would you like to share with medical students, or what do you wish someone would have told you while you were in medical school?

It feels slow now, but the years in medical training will fly by! Soak it up and cherish the camaraderie. While the hours studying were grueling, I really look back at that time fondly and miss my friends and classmates who are now scattered across the country (doing amazing things)! Branch out and rotate through everything you have the opportunity to—medical school is the only time in your life where you have the freedom to access so many different experts to learn from.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I'm not exactly sure if I'd call it a talent, but I wish I was one of those people who feels good on only 6 hours of sleep!

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Be less anxious about disappointing others or failing at a task.

Who is your hero of fiction?

Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables—I so identified with her growing up. I love her intelligence and feisty personality. Even though her impulsiveness would sometimes get her into trouble, she was such a warm and loving person that she always mended her relationships.

What is your motto?

Tomorrow is another day. Even when everything goes wrong, we can have a fresh start and another opportunity to do right in the world.

Back to the December 2021 issue of ACP IMpact

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