April 3, 2019

My Conference Experience: Q and A with Chinelo Okigbo, MD, MPH, PhD

Dr. Chinelo Okigbo is a PGY-3 Internal Medicine Chief Resident at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in New Jersey. She attended the 2019 ACGME Annual Educational Conference as part of the Back to Bedside initiative. As a resident and first-time Annual Educational Conference attendee, we asked her to share her impressions based on her experience.

Q: Tell us a little about your path in medicine and how you got here.

A: I always dreamed of being a physician as I constantly looked up to my older sister who is also a physician. Additionally, growing up in Nigeria, you are either going to be a physician or an engineer or may be a lawyer (laughs). However, once I got into medical school, I knew I had chosen the right career. I was very involved in community health outreach programs in medical school back in Nigeria and after a few years of medical practice in Nigeria, I knew I needed more training in public health/community medicine. Thus, I moved to the United States and got my MPH and PhD in public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With the goal of wanting my research to be informed by my clinical practice and vice versa, I went back to complete my clinical training in internal medicine and will subsequently complete a fellowship in endocrinology. I plan to have a career in academic medicine where I will contribute to the medical literature and help train the next generation of physicians.

Q: What made you want to come to the Annual Educational Conference this year?

A: My residency program, in response to the ACGME’s call for proposal, planned and implemented a Back to Bedside project with the goal of creating an environment that allows residents have meaningful encounters with their patients. My team and I were delighted to be invited to attend the conference to interact with and learn from other residency programs from all over the country that also implemented a Back to Bedside project. We had a blast.

Q: What did you expect from the ACGME Annual Educational Conference? What were you looking forward to, hoping to get out of coming?

A: I looked forward to the discussion with other residents/fellows that implemented a Back to Bedside project to hear their experiences (successes and setbacks). The Back to Bedside forums were amazing. My team and I learned a lot from the other teams and from the organizers. It was a huge success and we were re-energized to continue to grow our efforts.

Q: What was your experience like once at the conference?

A: I have been to many national conferences and I must say that the ACGME annual educational conference is easily my best conference so far. The organizers planned the conference in a very logically progressive manner. Every session I attended seemed to build upon what the previous session had discussed. Additionally, the pace of the sessions was perfect; it did not seem rushed or dragged out. I was very engaged in all the sessions and everyone around me seemed to have very similar experience too. I loved having the breaks built into the schedule so I didn’t have to take a break while sessions were going on and thus, I didn’t get the feeling that I was missing out of any session. I also loved interacting with every member of the GME from the residents to fellows to program coordinators and program directors. I also loved the availability of the shuttles as it made commute very easy. Finally, the wellness activities (running and yoga) were a hit!

Q: Which session(s) had the biggest impact? Why?

A: I enjoyed all the sessions in the Back to Bedside track. I also enjoyed these sessions: NAM Action Collaborative on Clinician well-being and resilience, NIDDK Initiative to eliminate health disparities and train a diverse workforce, and the Marvin R. Dunn Keynote address on rediscovering meaning in medicine.

Q: What was your greatest takeaway? What was the biggest surprise?

A: My greatest takeaway is the fact that we as physicians/clinicians need to take the time to take care of ourselves in order to be able to take care of our patients. We also need to create an environment where prevention of physician burnout and its complication is a top priority. I loved Dr. Vivek Murthy’s statement that “the care of patients and caring for each other need to be equal priorities.” I was surprised to find that only 65 residents were in attendance. This is [the] ACGME, they need more residents’ representation.

Q: Will you come again? Why/Why not?

A: I plan to attend the next ACGME Annual [Educational] Conference as I want to continue to learn about innovations in graduate medical education.

Q: The theme of this year’s conference was “Engaging Each Other: Rediscovering Meaning in Medicine.” Where do you find your personal meaning and joy in work?

A: I find joy in my work when I am interacting with patients to identify some of their social determinants of health and helping them find ways to improve their health. I have recently started finding more meaning in teaching and mentoring.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share about your first time Annual Educational Conference experience or about yourself?

A: I really want to commend the organizers of the conference as they did an amazing job!