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Dr. Whitney Jackson was featured in ACP's multimedia profile
2009 at Jefferson Medical College. This profile serves as a
follow up on Dr. Jackson's first two years of residency at Thomas
Jefferson University Hospital.
Dr. Whitney Jackson's journey to her residency in internal
medicine at Philadelphia's Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
began in Canada. She was born in the province of Manitoba and moved
to New Jersey at the age of three. However, her Canadian roots
factored into the decision to return to Canada for university
because of her familial connection to the country. She chose McGill
University in Montreal because of the "European and metropolitan"
feeling of the campus. Always interested in studying science,
McGill was well respected for its science program; the university
was a perfect fit. .
She began pursuing her interest in science by working in a lab
during college as well as volunteering to spend time with patients
with epilepsy at the Montreal Neurological Hospital. Volunteering
at the hospital sparked her interest in a career in medicine but at
the time, the idea of becoming a physician was a difficult concept
to grasp since she did not have any family members or close friends
in the medical field.
After college, Dr. Jackson worked in the same lab where she
interned in college. She formed a close relationship with her
neighbor, and a radiologist, Dr. Joseph Tsai, who became an
important mentor for her and encouraged her to take the plunge and
apply to medical school. Dr. Tsai, gave her the advice: "If you
have ever thought about going into medicine, it is a field that you
will never regret being part of. As a physician, you will be able
to help your family and so many people around you."
Later, she realized that going to medical school had always been
in the back of her mind, but she just needed the extra push to
start applying to schools. Taking her neighbor's advice, Dr.
Jackson applied to medical school and was accepted into Jefferson
Medical College. Although Jefferson is considered a larger medical
school with an incoming class of around 250 students, Dr. Jackson
found that she got to know her classmates very well and they formed
a support system for one another. "Medical school is extremely
challenging in the sense that you are studying all of the time, but
you are also in this amazingly supportive environment".
She enjoyed her third and fourth year clinical rotations and
felt the hands-on experience provided a completely different way of
learning from the first two years of medical school in which
students learn primarily from lectures and text books. During this
time, Dr. Jackson realized that what she enjoyed most about medical
school was her interaction with patients. She felt that as a
third-year medical student she was given a lot of independence in
her internal medicine clinical rotation and found that the
situations in which she worked independently with patients were the
experiences she valued the most. "I chose to go into internal
medicine because I knew I liked working with adults. I really loved
the thought process of internal medicine and going through
different diagnoses to figure out what is going on with the
Because of her positive experience in medical school, she wanted
to stay at Jefferson for her residency and was ecstatic on Match
Day 2009 when she matched at Jefferson. She had many role models
and mentors among the faculty and attending physicians at Jefferson
that influenced her decision to stay. "I found myself wanting to be
similar to the attending physicians, especially in the way that
they interacted with their patients."
As a first-year resident, Dr. Jackson has faced many challenges.
One of the most difficult parts of her intern year was the
experience of working in the intensive care unit and "night float,"
which is the hospital shift from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., an experience
which many incoming residents fear the most about residency. "The
concept of being alone with a patient at night and realizing that
you are going to be the person who assesses the patient's health
and develops a treatment plan for the patient is an intimidating
experience. But, if you take ownership and responsibility for your
patient, there is a lot less room for error and nervousness."
Dr. Jackson's day-to-day schedule is dependent on her rotation.
When on the wards, an average day starts by seeing, examining, and
evaluating all her existing patients and writing notes on each as a
record for other consultants and staff. After this, she makes
teaching rounds with her team and updates the plan of care for each
patient. She attends morning report from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., where
an attending physician will give a lecture to the residents or help
with board review questions. Her afternoons, depending on her
rotation schedule, consist of admitting new patients, educating and
discharging existing ones, and when able, teaching medical students
that are rotating through on the service. At the end of the day,
she signs out care to the night float team to ensure that all the
patients in the hospital receive the appropriate treatment
Reflecting back on her first year of residency, Dr. Jackson was
surprised by how much she has matured professionally. "One of the
greatest surprises in residency is the idea that you can gain so
much experience and knowledge that you did not think was even
possible. In medical school, I could never have seen myself taking
care of patients on my own. It is shocking to see how much you
grow, how independent you become, and how much you learn to trust
your instincts in patient care."
Dr. Jackson loves the unpredictability of her daily life in
residency and enjoys the fact that every day when she walks into
the hospital she does not know what she will face, but always knows
it will be an exciting day.
After residency, Dr. Jackson will complete a three year
fellowship program in gastroenterology at the Cleveland Clinic in
July 2011 Issue of IMpact
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