Year in Training: 2nd Year Resident (PGY-2)
Residency: Albert Einstein Medical Center
Medical School: Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Specialty: Internal Medicine
Undergraduate Major: Physiology
Follow Shanny: @shanny_do on Instagram
What's your story?
My name is Shannon Tosounian (but I often go by Shanny!), and I’m a 2nd year internal medicine resident at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to getting here, I went to LECOM (Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine) where I got my D.O. degree (doctor of osteopathy); before that, I studied at UCLA (I’m originally from Los Angeles) for both my bachelors and masters degrees in physiology.
Choosing medicine was easy, and I made up my mind as a freshman in high school when I fell in love with biology and health.
Along my journey, balancing a busy schedule with extracurriculars (including playing college rugby, which took up lots of time but was worth it) I sometimes thought about giving up since the road seemed too long ahead. Eventually, I knew I’d be dissatisfied with any other career so I continued to be true to myself, and halfway through my second year of residency, I can truly look back without a single regret.
As a former collegiate athlete, time management was a "must". What is your best time management tip?
Wake up with a plan but leave some wiggle room. You may schedule yourself to be in the library for 3 hours after practice, but if your studying is low-quality because you’re just so exhausted, get to bed and wake up refreshed.
Don’t beat yourself up over imperfections in your schedule. Checking off things on a to-do list is useless if they were performed halfheartedly.
What are your #doctorgoals?
I have so many #doctorgoals! Firstly, I figured very early into medical school that I would be doing internal medicine and even after keeping a very open mind during rotations, I felt right at home “nerding” out and just soaking up knowledge like a sponge on my medicine rotations. The job of an internist is, plain and simple, to know. Unlike surgeons whose craft requires hands-on skills, we thrive in problem-solving and being diagnosticians.
One of my biggest goals is to never be complacent and to continue to learn something every single day while practicing medicine. I want to continue growing my brain and also my compassion, so that with each patient encounter, I actually make a difference for the better.
Along the way, I hope to stress the importance of preventive medicine, and also to be an advocate for physician wellness at a national level. Do I want to do a fellowship? Honestly, I’m not sure yet! And I’m totally okay with that.
It is never too late to change directions and become fascinated with a
sub-specialty in the great field of internal medicine.
Tell us about your yoga journey!
My yoga journey began my first year of graduate school living in Santa Monica, California. I stumbled upon a donation yoga class with this world-famous teacher named Tamal Dodge. It was incredible, and it totally shaped my concept of fitness and staying present. I started attending fairly regularly and once I moved to the east coast for medical school, I knew it would play an integral role in staying sane…and I was SO right.
During medical school, I went to studio classes regularly and practiced on my own at home, expanding my practice and learning super fun arm balances and inversions. Lying in savasana during studio classes led by my favorite instructor, it would work out all my emotions and I’d feel rejuvenated again.
Working on the physical goals of “achieving” a new posture was the best way to stay completely present; when you’re so focused on not falling on your face, all your stresses and anxieties seem very far away. During residency, my practice time has been a little limited, but I could never go a week without a really sweaty practice session!
Medical school and residency are stressful times. What are 3 tips you can give to help students and residents manage their stress, stay positive, and get through the "trenches"?
TIP #1: WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING WITH YOUR TIME, DO IT 100% AND WITHOUT GUILT.
If you’re studying, turn off your phone/other sources of distractions and really put in the focused work. If you’re sitting in class, turn off your internet access and LISTEN. When you’re working out, leave your study notes at home and get in a killer sweat. If you’re spending time with family, give all your attention to them in those moments. Doing anything half-heartededly can put you in a constant feeling of angst.
TIP #2: GET. ENOUGH. SLEEP.
I sound like a broken record because I preach this incessantly, but making the decision to put sleep as a priority quite literally changed my life. I stopped the glorification of all-nighters, and running myself ragged like that was the only way to succeed. When you sleep well, all your awake hours have so much more power to them, and you feel like a million bucks! You end up with MORE time because you’ll have less sick days and less hours of just being dazed, sleepy, and basically useless.
Go to bed, wake up a BOSS.
TIP #3: REFLECT ON THE PAST AND LISTEN CAREFULLY.
In each step of the medical education process, don’t forget to reflect on the past and to listen carefully to those ahead of you. It’s important to feel rejuvenated by the bright-eyed high school pre-med, and to remember that feeling of excitement when you’re slumped over Robbins Pathology during 2nd year of medical school. Similarly, when you’re an intern feeling like the year couldn’t possibly be more challenging, listen to your senior residents and attendings when they tell you, “it really does get better.” We all need that perspective from both directions along the timeline.
If you had to start this whole process all over again, what would you do differently?
I’d forgive myself more.
I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself.
I would have taken more moments to look at myself and say:
“Dude, you’re putting your whole heart into this and you’re doing JUST FINE.”