Our three new chief residents: Sarah Mihalov MD, MPH; Lauren Vernese; Brendon Ross

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Getting to Know Current Residents

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As some of you may know, in the 2008-2009 academic year the residency program shifted to a 3-Chief System. As part of the program leadership, the Chief Residents have distinctive roles in the organization of the residency program. Meet our 3 Chiefs for the Class of 2018!

Sarah Mihalov MD, MPH

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Chief Title: Administrative Chief Resident

Chief Role: My role primarily entails coordinating the many layers of the 40 residents’ schedules. This includes: monthly rotations, ROC (resident-on-call) shifts, weekend admitting shifts, jeopardy call, and even jeopardy coverage. Good thing I enjoy puzzles! Throughout the year, I send out the Weekly Memo, maintain the resident calendar in Outlook, organize vacation requests, participate in several hospital committees, and overall serve as a representative and supporter of the residents.

What is your favorite memory from Move-in Day? Having the entire RIC community in-house on the same day working as a unified team to carry out this once-in-a-lifetime event.

What is your preferred social media platform? Instagram

What is the best part of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab? The amazing GME space – Sliwa’s lounge included!

What is the most valuable thing you will take with you when you graduate from Residency? An A+ education, an extraordinary community, and the RIC legacy.

What are your future career plans? General Physiatry, ideally an inpatient service, consults, and outpatient clinic. I enjoy it all!

What is the best advice you were given before starting PM&R Residency? Say yes. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn.

What advice would you give new residents at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab? Trust the process.

Lauren Vernese, DO

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Chief Title: Resident Affairs

Chief Role: As the Resident Affairs Chief, I tend to be the first line for the residents to go to with any internal issues, questions, or concerns. A few of my other responsibilities include planning PGY2 orientation, assisting with recruitment, and participating on the wellness committee.

What is your favorite memory from Move-in Day? I have many great memories of Move-In Day and feel so blessed to have been a part of this monumental event. My most favorite memory would be greeting the pediatric patients and their family members onto the 18th floor. The smiles on their faces were priceless and the revitalized sense of hope was pervasive as they explored their private rooms and the common areas for the first time.

What is your preferred social media platform? To be honest, I always seem to lag a few years behind. I guess I would have to say I most recently got on the Instagram bandwagon, as it is a quick way to see what my friends and/or family across the country are finding joy in at that moment, and better yet, a great way to briefly escape reality and get lost in a cute animal video on replay!

What is the best part of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab? The transition to the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab has rejuvenated the staff and patients. Together, we explored and continue to explore this beautiful new building and new concept, and there is a sense of hope that has come with this transition.

What is the most valued thing you will take with you when you graduate from Residency? I most value what an incredible residency class I have. I am sure each class feels that way, but maybe that speaks to the people the program attracts and the great orchestration of classes that the Match produces. I know that when I graduate from residency, I will immediately have 11 other colleagues and friends supporting me from their various parts of the country, not to mention the extensive alumni network of the former RIC.

What are you future career plans? I am currently applying for a fellowship in Sports Medicine. I hope to work with high school or collegiate level athletes and be an integral member in my community as a physician and a mentor. Long term, I have many aspirations but would ultimately like to have a Wellness Center in a ski town and truly embrace a balanced life in the clinic and on the mountain!

What is the best advice you were given before starting PM&R Residency? To enjoy having weekends off. At first I did not implement this piece of advice and spent every minute of every weekend day studying or working. Now, I definitely make the most of the advice and take this time to recharge and explore what Chicago has to offer or hop on a plane to go visit family members. Although I still find myself back in our beautiful GME suite some weekends to quietly catch up on work …

What advice would you give new residents at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab? To remember that you chose this program to become the most exceptional physiatrist you can be. Believe in this program and that even though PGY2 year is very intense and medicine-heavy, you will come out on the other end a stronger physician and knowledgeable physiatrist ready to enter into any fellowship or any general physiatry job. Just look at all of the alumni who have come before you to see the quality physiatrist this program can help you to become if you put in your best efforts.

Brendon Ross, DO

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Chief Title: Academic

Chief Role: As academic chief resident, I coordinate and plan the entire educational curriculum for the residents throughout the academic year as well as organizing, scheduling and facilitating the Grand Rounds Series at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.

What is your favorite memory from Move-in Day? favorite memory from Move-in Day was seeing the sheer, overwhelming excitement on the patient's faces as they entered their rooms and got a first glance at the various AbilityLabs. They knew, just as we did, the AbilityLab was the beginning of a new era of Rehabilitation Medicine and you could feel their spirits uplifted and motivated just by being present in this phenomenal space!

What is your preferred social media platform? Facebook

What is the best part of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab? The best part from a resident standpoint in the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is the amazing new resident space in the GME office and the beautiful lecture room for our didactics. This has created a new camaraderie amongst the residents and will dramatically help to improve wellness which will translate ultimately to the day to day care of our great patients.

What is the most valued thing you will take with you when you graduate from Residency? Perspective...if there is one thing you learn and experience day in and day out in the field of physiatry is how lucky we should all be for the things we have in life and our functional abilities as well. We take care of many tragic and difficult cases in PM&R where the lives of our patients and families have been uprooted and changed in a heartbeat, sometimes forever. To be an integral part of their rehabilitation journey and witness the immense internal strength of these patients who never give up in the face of extreme adversity is like no other field of medicine. The reward is beyond words!

What are you future career plans? I will be pursuing a Sports Medicine Fellowship next academic year

What is the best advice you were given before starting PM&R Residency? Be a person first, a doctor second to your patient

What advice would you give new residents at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab? Be a person first, a doctor second to your patients...but also, residency is difficult. There are many challenges you face everyday from a clinical but also personal standpoint. Remember to always take a step back and see the forest for the trees when things are not going your way or you forget why you embarked on this long road. The growth you are experiencing on a daily basis is not always tangible, but when you finish residency at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, you will be one of the best trained physiatrists in the country and you have the ability to help countless lives and become a great leader in this wonderful field of PM&R.

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