Fritz-Gerald Charles, MD, earned his undergraduate degree in Pre-Health Professions from Florida Atlantic University before attending UF’s College of Medicine. He also earned a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Medicine Technology from Barry University in 2009, and an Associate of Arts in Pharmacy from Broward College in 2006.
Now a third-year resident, Dr. Charles received the prestigious 2018 JS Gravenstein Award, which is presented each year to an outstanding UF College of Medicine graduate who intends to pursue anesthesiology. Dr. Charles had worked with Drs. Bruce Spiess and Chris Giordano on groundbreaking research regarding Vitamin B-12 and its chemical structure.
We asked Dr. Charles a few questions about his experience in our anesthesiology residency program so far and his advice for others.
Q: Why did you choose UF’s residency program and choose to stay at UF?
A: The decision to join UF’s Anesthesiology program was very easy for me for several reasons. Research has always been a major career aspiration for me, and UF has a reputation for working on cutting-edge research. Being able to interact with the Anesthesiology faculty while I was a medical student here at UF allowed me to see how easy it was to find and develop close relationships with faculty who were willing to share their research knowledge with me. It was unbelievable to see that these faculty were actually very eager to find young residents to mentor.
There is a good reason that UF Anesthesiology consistently ranks among the top programs in the nation. Residents are exposed to a great diversity of cases. In fact, one cannot go through this program without being exposed to clinical situations that will make you become the best anesthesiologist that you can be. No one can hide from this. The very friendly and supportive staff and faculty make me feel well-rounded and part of the Gator Nation’s family. The program size allows for the possibility of finding similar-minded residents to bonds with, which will continue to be valuable beyond residency. In fact, our culture fosters an environment that encourages camaraderie among all residents
Q: What advice would you give to someone interested in applying for UF’s residency program?
A: Our program does not simply look for residents with great academic achievements, but most importantly residents who have great leadership quality as well as those who work well as team players. These qualities will allow you to be a good fit for our program.
Four years is a long time of our short lifetime on earth. You want to spend it in an environment where you feel the happiest you can be, with friendly colleagues and mentors that are there to support you when you are feeling down and celebrate with you when you are rejoicing. If these are important for you, UF is the right place for you.
Q: What is one highlight of your time in the residency program so far?
A: The mole team has been the highlight of this residency for me. Our mole team is tasked with covering the trauma and emergent cases that occur overnight. During this rotation, you learn great clinical skills that allow you to improvise in emergency situations. After going through this rotation, you gain confidence as you feel well prepared to help care for patients.
You also develop close bonds with your teammates as you learn to depend on each other to make the team function well.
Q: What challenges or opportunities has COVID presented for you as a resident?
A: Opportunities with COVID-19 include being able to spend more time with family and learn how to innovate and develop new skills to respond to challenging situations. I have observed many great ideas from my department, including the alternative mask initiative. It is also very rewarding to see that our anesthesiology skills are very important and useful when our country needs us the most.
One challenge is to ensure that every decision we make in and out of the hospital is done in a safe manner to ensure that we stay healthy so we do not pass the virus to our family and patients. Every decision we make should be guided with the safety of our family and patients in mind.
Q: What are some of your future goals?
A: I am Interested in pursuing a fellowship in Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology. I envision myself working in an academic institution, as I enjoy mentoring medical students and junior residents. I also want to continue to pursue new research opportunities and hope to get more of my colleagues involved in global health initiatives to help support those who are less fortunate.