Karolain Garcia, M.D., grew up in Miami, FL, and earned her undergraduate degree at Florida International University before attending Florida State University for medical school. She is now in her third year in our program.
We asked her a few questions about her experience in our anesthesiology residency program so far and her advice for others.
Q: Why did you choose UF for residency?
A: I had the opportunity to complete an away rotation with the UF Department of Anesthesiology as a medical student. I rotated through a variety of adult and pediatric anesthesia cases, inpatient and outpatient settings, and the intensive care unit. I was very impressed by how confident residents were with their procedural skills and decision-making in the operating room and the support they offered to one another at work and outside, as well as how passionate the attendings were about teaching. From my first day in this rotation, I experienced a very safe learning environment and I was always treated as a member of the team. I was also exposed to the challenging patient population that is treated at UF on a daily basis, given that this is a tertiary academic medical center and a Level I trauma center. Toward the end of this month, I was very confident that UF had all the qualities I was looking for in a residency program. Even though I kept an open mind during interview season, I continued to think of UF as the right program for me. Now, three years later, I know I made the right decision!
Q: What advice would you give to someone interested in applying for UF’s residency program?
A: I highly recommend doing an away rotation at UF. I believe that the amount of information that can be obtained by working closely with residents is invaluable. This also provides the opportunity to understand the program’s culture and goals, as well as to explore the city where you would potentially live for the next 3 or 4 years of residency. Given the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, reaching out to residents and asking as much as you can about the program is another great alternative. I have had students reach out to me in the past and I am always happy to answer any questions. I am sure my co-residents would be glad to do the same.
Q: What is one highlight of your time in the residency program so far?
A: As anesthesia residents, we are responsible for taking 24-hour call at the VA hospital. During this call shift, the anesthesia resident is the only in-house anesthesia team member in the hospital. We are responsible for setting up and providing anesthesia for emergent cases, responding to code blues, performing emergent intubations, and assisting other services with line placement. During my first 24-hour call at the VA, I responded to a critical airway code in the middle of the night. I consider this day one of the highlights of residency so far. As I ran into the patient’s room, I remember being terrified of making a mistake, missing the airway, or choosing the wrong dose for induction medications. However, I was able to successfully navigate through this situation and safely stabilize my patient by working closely with the team. This was the day I realized I was more prepared than I thought. By practicing every day in a controlled environment and receiving daily feedback from my attendings, I was able to use my skills and knowledge to anticipate every step I needed to take during this critical situation. I walked out of this experience more confident and motivated to continue to learn.
Q: What is one of your future goals for 5 to 10 years from now?
A: I would like to pursue a fellowship after I complete my residency training at UF. I envision myself working in an academic center where I would be able to continue taking care of complex patients, as well as contribute to the education of future generations of anesthesiology residents. I also plan to start a family and continue to grow both personally and professionally.