Residency Program: Emergency Medicine at Michigan State University College of Medicine
Year in Training: 2nd Year Resident (PGY-2)
Medical School: Midwestern University – AZCOM
College: Arizona State University
College Major: Kinesiology
Follow Justin on Instagram: @justintylerandes
What's your story?
Hey, guys! My name is Justin Andes, and I’m a second year resident in emergency medicine training. To be completely honest, there are still some days (mostly following an exceptionally long night, weekend, or holiday shifts) that I question exactly how I got here.
My whole life, I actually planned on going to dental school and specializing in orthodontia. I’m fairly certain my parents have an old VHS of me as a toddler reminding everyone to brush and floss. I’m sure they didn’t find that even the slightest bit obnoxious…
But as I started my undergraduate studies at Arizona State University, I began to experience a lot of self-doubt. No one in my family had ever graduated from college, let alone gone on to pursue graduate studies.
Was I smart enough?
Was I competitive enough?
Was I willing to dedicate a decade of my life (not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars) to this end goal?
I hesitantly enrolled into the business college and switched my major to finance (yawn). But after a semester or two, I realized that I was on the wrong course. I re-considered dentistry but it no longer lit the same fire in me. I vacillated between a few different options for a time, but after speaking with a couple of ER docs, I knew that there was no turning back!
The thought of being on the front lines of medicine was captivating.
The opportunity to gain the skill set to quite literally save a human life is still something that humbles and excites me. It hasn’t always been the easiest of rides, but man, I’d do this again in a heartbeat.
What are your #doctorgoals?
I decided to pursue training in emergency medicine because I wanted to become the doctor that everyone looked to in a time of crisis. Growing up, my dad was a captain with the Phoenix Fire Department, and I remember several occasions in which we’d stumble upon a roadside accident and he’d park the car, grab his medic bag, and rush off to help.
I wanted to have the knowledge base and skill set to feel just as comfortable responding to a request for a doctor on a plane as I did in the resuscitation bay in the ED.
Going forward, my #doctorgoals are to continue to provide evidence based care regardless of race, religion, or insurance status.
I also hope to teach in some capacity (i.e. medical students, residents, EMS, etc.) as well as to find time to volunteer through medical missions and by working with Special Olympics athletes.
What advice can you give to a medical student interested in applying to emergency medicine?
I think the only unique piece of advice I have to offer is just to make it obvious to the programs you’re applying to that emergency medicine is truly your passion. With EM being so competitive at the moment, it’s not enough to go through the motions.
Every once in a while, we get applicants to our program that give the impression that medicine is more of a burden than a privilege and those candidates are not ranked.
Ensure that your dedication and enthusiasm ooze from the pages of your CV and personal statement.
Also, apply broadly and apply early. Some students complain that it’s just too expensive to apply to more than a handful of programs, but is a few hundred dollars really worth risking not matching, taking an entire year to regroup and ultimately miss out on an entire year’s worth of an attending salary?
Finally, once you’ve completed your auditions (away rotations) and interviews, remember to stay in contact with the program! A few text messages and emails to the residents and program director really remind us of who you are and what a great fit you’d be for our program. And it can help solidify your spot at the top of our list.
How have you been able to balance medical school and now residency as a husband and father?
Honestly, the key to finding balance between being a dedicated resident and a devoted husband and father has been marrying the right person. My wife is nothing short of incredible, and the majority of my success to this point can be attributed to her.
When I’m not at the hospital, I have a tendency to really envelop myself in my studies (journals, blogs, podcasts, etc.) and she patiently reminds me to slow down and make time for what’s truly important.
Together, we try to set aside time each week to spend as a family. We try to workout together a few days a week and every Monday we have a family night where we read together, play games, and make a special treat. We also try to attend church together and sit down for family meals as often as my schedule permits.
We’ve also learned to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays on a random Tuesday afternoon because Saturday nights aren’t always easy to come by.
My wife often rolls her eyes at me when I use the phrase:
“Hustle now, Shine later."
…but it’s a constant reminder to me that we’re playing the long game! Our dedication and sacrifice during these training years will pay dividends and provide for us the time and financial means to make memories together in the future that at this point we can only dream of.
What have you struggled with the most and how did you overcome it?
There have been several challenges along the way on this doctor journey, but I think one of the most difficult, at least initially, was realizing that I’m not nor do I need to be the smartest person in the room.
School always came really easy to me and I was accustomed to scoring straight A’s and making top honors in high school and undergrad. But when I started medical school (and now residency), I found myself surrounded by people who seemed to study less and know more!
I’ve since learned that these people are here to inspire and challenge me and without them I’d be stuck in neutral. I’m now embracing the advice given by Michael Dell:
“Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people…or find a new room.”