On May 8, the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix’s fourth-year class of 50 students received their medical degrees in a ceremony at Phoenix Convention Center in the third graduation for the College. It is also the largest class yet to come through the College. Congratulations to our graduates!
The UA College of Medicine – Phoenix has profiled a handful of students for graduation. Meet Anna Ward.
Anna Ward said that although graduating from medical school is exciting, she feels some apprehension about taking the next step: practicing what she has learned and applying it to real patient care.
“Big responsibility comes with having MD after your name,” she said. On commencement day, the nerves will be lessened a bit with the support of her parents, brother, all of her mother’s side of the family, and eight of her sorority sisters.
Anna has chosen anesthesiology as her specialty and will be doing her first year of internal medicine internship at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix. Afterward, she will move to Boston to do her residency at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Anna majored in molecular toxicology at Berkeley where she completed her undergraduate studies.
“I loved the Bay Area,” she said. “But I always knew I would come back to Phoenix.”
The UA College of Medicine - Phoenix campus appealed to her because of the small class size. “It really seemed like a community,” she said. The community vibe was something that was prevalent throughout Anna’s med school experience. During her first week of classes, she invited the class of 2013 over to her parents’ house to celebrate her birthday. “It set the tone for how close we were,” she said.
For Anna, the healthcare profession runs in the family. “My father is a surgeon,” she said. “I got to go into many OR’s (operating rooms) with him and see what he did every day. I learned from him. It was something that just the two of us shared.”
Growing up with the experience of a physician in her family, Anna said it was something unique that contributed to her wanting to pursue medicine.
“It was always something I was exposed to,” she said. “And freshman year of college, I started taking some more serious science courses and I loved it.” While in college, Anna also worked in a toxicology lab, which further increased her love for the sciences. However, she said that being in the lab was a somewhat isolated experience. “I’m a people person,” she added. “Being a doctor is both social and incorporates what I’ve learned in school.”
A highlight of Anna’s medical school journey was Match Day. “It was very special,” she said. Anna was matched with her first choice, which was something she didn’t expect. “I had worked so hard, and it was nice to see it pay off,” she said.
Medical school includes many ups and downs, but Anna said the biggest challenge was deciding what area of medicine to go into. “It makes complete sense where I ended up,” she said. “But there was a lot of worrying that I wouldn’t find what was right for me.” Anna knew anesthesiology was her calling when she began getting to know some of the doctors on one of her rotations. “I love the work but I also loved the people I worked with,” she said. “I felt like a lot of the anesthesiologists had similar personalities to mine. I loved life in the OR.”
Any difficult moments experienced during med school were made easier by the presence of Karen Restifo, MD, JD, FACEP, Associate Dean of Student Affairs and an associate professor in emergency medicine on campus.
“She encouraged me to apply to a lot more prestigious programs for my residency,” Anna said. “I came to her every time I had an anxiety attack.”
This is the beginning of a new era for Anna and her fellow graduating classmates, but like her peers, Anna will miss the close-knit comfort of the class of 2013. “I loved my past four years at the College of Medicine – Phoenix,” she said. “I got to study with amazing classmates who became my best friends.”
For now, Anna is enjoying being able to have the next month off and relax. She also won’t have to stress over packing and moving, as she won’t be moving to Boston until next year. Although commencement represents a celebration of the culmination of the last four years, Anna did some early celebrating when she and her mother took a trip to Paris in January. “We had a fabulous time,” she said.
Story written by April Fischer
UA College of Medicine - Phoenix External Relations Office