I am grateful I matched at Mizzou

I was asked many times, by colleagues and patients alike, “How does a Northwesterner land in Missouri?”  In brief, I would tell them I came for the residency program.  I wanted a small class size in a semi-rural environment with all the benefits of a large academic center, which was a tall order as not many programs with those parameters existed.  Columbia first came to mind as I had visited twice for summer leadership training while attending University of Idaho, which reminded me of my own rural land-grant college town in Moscow, ID.  The interview had me sold after seeing the friendly nature of the staff and residents, as well as the accommodating facilities for learning.  After Match, my wife and I packed up our house and dog, and made the 1700 mile trek from Washington to Missouri.

Brian Proctor, DOI am grateful I matched at Mizzou, and the experience proved to be more than expected.  The catchment area is large, accounting for most of central Missouri from near Iowa down to Springfield.  The predominately rural agricultural area presented some interesting cases with unique concerns.  I will certainly never misdiagnose a tickborne illness for the rest of my life.  The faculty were friendly and sincere, and great teachers who took personal interest in our success.  It was nice having nearly all pediatric medical and surgical subspecialties on site for rotations, and also to call for emergent consults.  At those times, faculty were plenty receptive to the frequently numerous questions from the often overcaffeinated night residents.  Faculty would still find time at those hours to engage in some brief teaching and detailed explanation for their recommendations.  I further recognize the unique opportunity to rotate through the MU Thompson Center, and their ECHO model forms the basis for best practice autism care in Washington state.  The appreciation would not be complete without a thanks to our program coordinator, Penny, who was a mother to 35+ fledgling physicians, as well as our program director and associate directors, Drs. Tosh, Kesterson, and Koehn.  They were our greatest advocates, and I always felt heard and understood followed by legitimate action to better our education and lives.  I am also thankful for my continuity clinic attendings.  Dr. Lasseter was the personification of a Mr. Rogers character who taught me much of what I know about examining children.  Dr. Beucke maintained a fun environment for learning where he tended to remind me of an older and likely more hilarious version of myself.  Nor would it be complete without mentioning our neonatal nurse practitioners, who were some of the best procedure-based instructors I’ve known, and because there were no NICU fellows, there were many opportunities to practice.  I feel I can handle major crises in both preterm and term neonates from their teaching with ET intubations, UV/UA lines, LPs, needle decompressions, and more.  I have always been impressed with the professionalism and dedication throughout the entire department, through the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic nonetheless, and hope to carry that style of teaching forward.

The nursing staff also played an important role in my education.  Much of what I know about good bedside manner in hospitalized patients, I learned from the nurses at Mizzou.  They also taught me about cooperation within the health care team.  I learned I should take appropriate pause when a nurse asks if I was sure about a decision.  They taught me to check my ego at the door and remember, a leader is first a listener.  It must not go without saying the helpfulness of our pharmacists, whom we interacted with on a daily basis, as well the nutritionists, child life staff, and the various speech, physical, and occupational therapists.  Most of what I know about mechanical ventilators, and much of newborn resuscitation, I learned from our respiratory therapists.  Close interaction and good relationships with these disciplines made for better patient care and robust learning.  To the medical students, who it was a privilege to teach.  My own education was furthered by their inquisitiveness.  On this note, Ruth deserves a special thanks for making our interactions with the students seamless.

I am most thankful for my co-residents, we shared so many good times.  From themed parties with carry-ins (potlucks if you are from the west coast), to decorating the work room for holidays and holding competitions for who could cut the best paper snowflake.  I cut mine with trauma shears, and it was undeniably the ugliest.  The wellness parties, dinner nights, and Mizzou football tailgates.  We took our work seriously, though always found time to have a few laughs.  The overall culture tended toward an environment which was uplifting.  We were a family.  For those in my class freshly graduated, we came inexperienced and unsure of ourselves, seemingly by magic woke up one day competent and confident senior residents, and came out the other end of the residency tunnel triumphant and still smiling, which is a testament to the culture in our program.

Moving forward as a general pediatrician at a critical access hospital in rural central Washington, I feel well prepared to handle clinic, see newborns in our nursery, admit pediatric patients to the hospital, and recognize when a child needs a higher level of care.  I owe the sum of my knowledge and experience as a pediatrician entirely to my Mizzou family.  So how does a Northwesterner land in Missouri?  The answer became much more complex than simply a residency program.  I can say I am grateful, and if I had those 3 years to live over again, I would choose Mizzou all the way.  MIZ-ZOU!

Very truly and respectfully,
Brian Proctor, DO
General Pediatrician
2021 MU Pediatrics Residency Graduate

Thank you to everyone at Mizzou

I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity I had to complete my pediatric residency at Mizzou. I believe that my residency training has provided me the perfect preparation for the next step in my career. I chose to complete my pediatric residency at Mizzou because I valued the benefits of being part of a small and close-knit program, saw how outstanding the faculty were in their role as clinicians and also as mentors, wanted a program where I would have hands-on procedural experience without having to compete with too many other learners, and appreciated how the program could be so flexible to accommodate my specific career goals.

Whitney Ficker
Whitney Ficker, MD

Knowing that I was interested in pediatric emergency medicine (PEM) from the start of fellowship, I knew that there was going to be a lot of experience I would have to gain during residency to be a competitive fellowship candidate given that PEM is one of the most competitive pediatric fellowships out there. At Mizzou, I was able to be part of a multidisciplinary team in the pediatric ED that carried out a research project through my three years of residency, and we are currently working to turn our research into a publication. I was also able to be part of a quality improvement team that collected data and made significant changes in our treatment of asthma patients in both the inpatient and ED setting. In addition, I was also able to partner with a team of clinicians in our NICU and publish a visual diagnosis paper in NeoReviews. All of these research and quality improvement experiences helped prepare me for my academic endeavors in fellowship. I was also able to hone my leadership skills during residency as one of the chief residents, and I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the team that made impactful decisions for our residency program.

In addition to the research and leadership experience I gained during residency, I truly value the clinical training I received. Our hospital is located in mid-Missouri, and we have a large catchment area. We frequently see patients who come from several hours away, and since we have almost every pediatric specialty available, we see a wide range of pathology. I gained excellent general pediatric training during residency, which is foundational for any area of pediatrics that a resident chooses. There is also the benefit of not having many other learners to compete with (no pediatric fellows), so I was able to do many more procedures (endotracheal intubation, central lines, etc.) than most other fellowship candidates I met on the interview trail. The residency program was incredibly flexible allowing me to choose rotations that were especially applicable to PEM and also allowed time in my schedule during my second year to do an away rotation at another hospital with a large pediatric emergency department. Overall, the pediatric training I received was excellent and more than prepared me to move onto fellowship.

Aside from how great the residency program training is, I am so thankful that I was part of a program that values work-life balance and is family-centered. My husband and I have two young kids (I had my second son during my first year of residency), and there was never a time when I did not feel supported in my role as a mother. Residency is demanding and having people around you who understand the importance of family and life outside the workplace is crucial. I can't tell you how many times I had an attending check in on how my kids were doing or have seen residents help each other out by watching each other's kids. This environment was definitely essential to my success throughout residency.

I ended up receiving many fellowship interview offers, and after interviewing at quite a few programs, I ended up matching to my number one ranked program at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC. I'm thrilled to be at a program that is a great fit for me and will help me achieve my long-term career goals, and I am so thankful for the experience I gained during my pediatric residency at Mizzou that helped me get to this point.

Thank you to everyone at Mizzou for helping me reach my goal of becoming a PEM physician!

Whitney Ficker, MD
Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellow
MU Pediatric Residency Class of 2020

I am proud to be a pediatric resident alumnus of the University of Missouri!

Lila Nolan, MD
Lila Nolan, MD

I chose to complete my pediatric residency at MU because I desired a close-knit training environment with opportunities for hands-on and procedural experiences, personalized education, and research involvement that would aid in my future career in academics. My training experience at MU facilitated my ability to match at my top choice for neonatology fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. During residency, I was able to work closely and collaboratively with attendings and other health professionals, all of whom directly contributed to my learning. As a senior resident, I enjoyed the opportunity to mentor and teach medical students, through structured lectures as well as bedside teaching. I am grateful to have received the School of Medicine’s Resident Teaching Award upon my graduation. In seeking opportunities for leadership, I was able to serve as president of MU’s House Staff Organization and participate in many committees within our hospital system. Additionally, I appreciated all the support I received for my clinical research and QI projects throughout medical school and residency that resulted in presentations at national conferences such as the Pediatric Academic Societies and American Society of Hematology annual meetings. This allowed me to transition to involvement in basic science research during my neonatology fellowship. I am thankful for all of the mentorship I received and lifelong friendships I developed during my time in residency, and I am excited for the next phase of my career!


Lila Nolan, MD
Clinical Fellow in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
MU Pediatric Residency Class of 2019

Thank you for helping me become a pediatrician

I now work in a town of 5,000 at the local hospital/clinic. It's rural, so the catch area is huge. The nearest pediatrician south is 150-plus miles south — in Colorado east and Nevada if heading west. As you might imagine, I practice full-spectrum pediatrics. On my second day on the job, the ER called me in the evening to assist several children in the rollover on the freeway. One trauma I admitted for surgery, but they all will make a full recovery. I attend C-sections and other high-risk deliveries, perform circumcisions, frenotomies, LPs, umbilical lines, I&D, suture lacs and intubate. The hospital will be getting surfactant so I can do I.C.E (intubate, curosurf, extubate) for the premies. (Ultimately, the premie would be shipped north to a NICU).

Gordon Duval, DO

Although most my work is outpatient, I still do inpatient medicine with the nursery and general pediatrics. For our bronchiolitics and asthmatics, I've convinced them of the benefits of heated, high-humidity high-flow nasal cannula — which they somehow functioned without previously — so we will have the equipment and training needed before viral season. In my clinic, so many of my asthmatic patients didn't have a spacer or know how to use their inhaler and thus their asthma was poorly controlled so now we are getting them the materials and instruction they need. Yesterday morning we administered 31 immunizations (a personal record for me). This morning, I diagnosed a returned missionary from Ghana with acute schistosomiasis.

Anyway, the real reason I write is to say thank you to so many who were involved in teaching and training me. At the end of residency I was wondering, and, to be honest, intermittently concerned that I would come across a situation I couldn't handle — particularly because I'm the only pediatrician in the county. Although I'm sure that will eventually happen, so far everything has gone extraordinarily well — and that's because of how well my attending and fellow residents did in helping me become a pediatrician. Dr. George Koburov, Dr. Gabe Shifman, Dr. Keven Cutler taught me how to treat trauma patients. Dr. Julia Kesterson, Dr. Srivastava, and the hospitalists taught me inpatient medicine. Dr. Nabila Khaleel, Dr. Jason Hagely, NNPs, and others taught me how to resuscitate a baby, perform circumcision, umbilical lines and frenotomies. Tammy Rood and Dr. Francisco taught me the importance of asthma education to patients/parents. Dr. Dean Lasseter, Dr. Bernard Eskridge, Dr. Hagely, Dr. T. Selva and many others at South Providence taught me how to take care of my patients in the clinic. Dr. Tosh's training helps me take care of my adolescent patients — particularly with depression, anxiety, STDs, obesity and menstrual issues. Obviously there are many others I haven't listed. And if I didn't, it's not because they didn't have an impact on me. I am grateful for their part in my education.

And of course, Penny, Katie, and Ruth were there through it all with smiles as you helped us navigate residency.

I hope all is going well for everyone back in Mizzou! I wish everyone well.

Gordon Duval, DO
General Pediatrician
2017 MU Pediatrics Residency Graduate

Collaborative atmosphere helped me succeed

Residency at Mizzou definitely prepared me to practice independently. As a relatively small residency program, I felt empowered to make decisions and like the patient I managed truly were "my patients" — my responsibility to care for and manage. At the same time, the smaller program allowed me to get to know my attendings personally, and I knew I could always reach out to them with questions and concerns. We had substantial hands-on experience throughout the hospital, and we often worked side-by-side with attendings to learn and perform procedures.

Audrey Bush, MD
Audrey Bush, MD

Now, as a pediatric hospitalist, I constantly call upon my experiences during residency. The breadth and depth of the learning opportunities certainly prepared me for the next step after training. Moreover, working at Mizzou, I discovered the value of having a team to work alongside and learn from. I am so thankful for the interdisciplinary team at Mizzou — I learned SO much from the nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, child life specialists, and countless others throughout my training. Now, practicing independently, I understand the value of those team members and have great professional relationships with them as we work together. Even more, the residents I trained with became dear friends and trusted colleagues. Not a day went by during residency without collaboration with my residency classmates and with attendings — and I know I can still call on the advice and experience of my friends and mentors. As I moved forward in my career, I sought out a group with the same dynamic, and I knew what I was looking for because I had experienced it at MU.

I am incredibly thankful for my time at Mizzou — it truly equipped me to be a strong physician and educator.

Audrey Bush, MD
Pediatric Hospitalist
2016 MU Pediatrics Residency Graduate