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Meet Andrea

Residency Program: Ophthalmology at Mayo Clinic

Year in Training: 3rd Year Ophthalmology Resident (PGY-4)

Medical School: Indiana University School of Medicine (MD)

College: Butler University

College Major: English Literature & Chemistry

Follow Andrea on Instagram: @dr.andreatooley

What's your story?

I could write a book answering this question!  At the end of the day, I chose medicine because I fell in love with ophthalmology.

I talk about why I chose ophthalmology in this video:

What are your #doctorgoals?

I felt so inspired to share my #doctorgoals that I made a NEW youtube video about it:

What have you struggled with the most during this "doctor journey" and how did you overcome it?

I think that work/life balance is something we all struggle with, but is a constant struggle for me!  When I was in medical school, my boyfriend at the time (now my husband) lived 3.5 hours away.  That distance made it really easy for me to have a ton of time to myself.  I always had lots of alone time to study, workout, etc.  When my husband and I started living together, I really had to learn how to balance time with him, while still getting my work done.

I definitely don’t study as much as I used to because I always want to hang out with him!  I’ve even found that working out is challenging at times because I feel obligated to spend time at home with my husband and my dog.

I try to be really organized and make sure my husband knows what I have going on, so that he understands when I need to leave the house to study or work on research.

Communication and organization are key!

What has been your most interesting case thus far?

I am so lucky to train at Mayo Clinic and get interesting cases ALL the time!  In the ophthalmology department, we diagnose systemic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension weekly. I’ve had someone present to me with only vision changes, and we discover their blood pressure is 240/120 or their HbA1c is 14.0!  I’ve diagnosed lymphoma, breast cancer, syphilis and tuberculosis based on findings in the eyes. The eyes are fascinating and give us a true look into the body.

What is one thing you wish you knew before deciding to become a doctor?

I wish I had understood that a doctor’s work is never done. We are always taking our patients home with us. My patients keep me up at night and consume my thoughts at times.  I always have 10+ projects going on and life is a juggling act!  But I wouldn’t change it for anything.

What is a typical day like as an ophthalmology resident?

Currently my schedule is generally something like this:

4:00 – 4:30 AM Wake up sometime around here.  If I’ve been on call the night before and something happened, I will sleep in until 5 or 5:30.

4:30 – 5:30 AM  Make coffee, get work done. This can be emails, blog/youtube stuff, research projects, studying, or reading about the cases we have in surgery that day.

5:30 – 6:00 AM My husband and puppy wake up!  I take my dog out for a quick walk and make his breakfast.  I also prepare my lunch.

6:00 – 6:30 AM I get ready for work OR go on a longer walk with my husband and puppy.  This depends on what time I have to get to work.

6:30 – 7:00 AM  Make a quick breakfast and drive or bike (in the summer) to work.

7:00 – 8:00 AM  Morning lecture on most days. I eat breakfast during lecture.  Sometimes I have to leave lecture early to get to the operating room by 7:30, but if I have clinic, I stay at lecture until 8:00.

8:00 AM – 12:00 PM Surgery or clinic.  I see patients in clinic or assist in the OR.  As of July, 2017, I now have my own time in the operating room!

12:00 – 1:00 PM  Sometimes we get lunch, sometimes we skip lunch if clinic is running late or if we are still operating. I am also always fielding pages and phone calls regarding patients who have called in.  Sometimes I have to run out of clinic or the OR to quickly see a patient.  I’m always on the computer refilling prescriptions, sending emails, and trying to get work done during any down time.

1:00-5:00 PM  Afternoon clinic or more surgery.

5:00 – 6:00 PM  Surgery and clinic are generally finished by 5:00, although sometimes we run late. I use this hour to log cases from surgery that day, do my dictations, finish notes, respond to emails, bill patients from that day, schedule return visits, etc.  There is never a shortage of things to do!

6:00 – 6:30 PM  Head home.  I always call my mom on my drive home and catch up with her 🙂

6:30 – 8:00 PM  Home! Eat dinner, go on a walk with my husband and dog, get ready for bed.

8:30 PM  I try to be in bed by 8:30, but sometimes it’s closer to 9:00 or 9:30.  If I’m on call, I will occasionally have to go in to the hospital to see a patient.  Luckily, the first year residents take all the primary call, so I only have to go see a patient if the first year needs help.

9:00 PM  Lights out!

(Dr. Trot chimes in: Oh snap!)

What is a common misconception of ophthalmology?

I think many people think the eye is SO small and that they will be limited in ophthalmology. I have found that ophthalmology is an incredibly vast field! The variety between specialties is remarkable.

  • General ophthalmologists do a lot of cataract surgery. They have a balanced schedule of clinic and OR. The surgeries are fast and generally straight forward. Patients are generally healthy and very happy.

  • Glaucoma specialists see patients for many many years. You really build continuity of care with these patients. Some glaucoma surgeries are straight forward, but many are quite complex.

  • Retina specialists are very busy. They see all kinds of patients with problems affecting the retina. Retina is a deep medical specialty as so many different systemic conditions can affect the retina. Retina surgery is extremely challenging and requires exceptional surgical skill.

  • Neuro-ophthalmology is similar to neurology. Patients have complex problems and it’s very medical.

  • Uveitis is also a very complicated and medical specialty. Uveitis specialists work closely with rheumatology.

  • Pediatric ophthalmology is unique because you work with kids!  You also get to see a little bit of all the specialities (some retina, some uveitis, some glaucoma, some cataracts, etc.) along with strabismus, the largest aspect of a pediatric ophthalmology practice.

  • Oculoplastics is also completely unique because you don’t really work with the eye as much. Oculoplastic surgeons can do facial reconstructive surgery, cosmetic surgery, and orbital surgery. Oculoplastic specialists work with neurosurgery and ENT.

There is something for everyone in ophthalmology!

What have you learned about yourself after going through this doctor journey?

I knew I loved surgery, but residency has solidified that.  I also learned that I don’t like intraocular surgery as much as I thought I would. Oculoplastic surgery is perfect for me because I love the anatomy of the orbit and ocular adnexa.

Thanks Andrea!

Follow @doctorgoals