Learn about the trainee experience at Massachusetts General Hospital, the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School and the number one research hospital in America. Hear from residents, fellows and program leaders about the exceptional learning experiences offered at Mass General, including our culture, mentorship opportunities and commitment to community health.
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Maggie Westfal, MD (resident, general surgery): To be honest I was a little bit intimidated by the size of Mass General.
Awab Ali Ibrahim, MD (fellow, pediatric gastroenterology): Initially, a lot of people from my program were like, "Do we…can we really make it over there? Should we really apply to Boston? It’s just so far away. Will they even look at our application?"
Debra Weinstein, MD (vice president, graduate medical education, Mass General Brigham): We’ve heard from some of our residents that there are misperceptions out there about what it’s like to train here, one of them being that it’s a very intense or competitive environment. I don’t think people find that to be true, and in fact they realize that there’s an intensity of purpose, but not a competitiveness amongst people.
John Mullen, MD (program director, General Surgery Residency): And once they figure out everybody has the exact same fears I have, then it immediately just breaks down all the barriers and those sort of insecurities melt away, and they just need to start working.
Alexandra S. Bercow, MD (resident, obstetrics and gynecology): There is a sense of approachability here, and friendliness and enthusiasm that I think extends across all levels of the faculty, the staff, the residents, the interns, the nurses.
Njambi Mathenge, MD (fellow, cardiology): Mass General definitely listens to trainees and is very invested in understanding the unique challenges that face every individual trainee.
Weinstein: Our intent is that every resident and fellow that comes to train here gets excellent clinical training so that their skills as a doctor are everything they’d hoped, and that they get excellent mentoring so that they have room and inspiration to explore different career paths and then have a sense of what they want to do and a launch pad to get there.
John Patrick T. Co, MD, MPH (director, graduate medical education, Mass General Brigham): Sometimes when people come to do their training, they have a certain vision for what their career will look like. And what I think people find when they get here is that they see people that cause them to think about other things. Maybe things that they had never known were possible. And in the end, it actually helps them find something that can really drive their careers and something that they’re passionate about for a very long time.
Emily Lau, MD (fellow, cardiology/echocardiology): So it’s been so important to have a mentorship team of folks who understand what your career goals are, what your clinical interests are, what your professional goals are, to help you basically come up with a vision for what maybe the first few years of training are going to look like for you.
Ibrahim: If I was looking for training to become a leader in a particular field or an expert within a particular disease process or a particular procedure, this is the place to be. You have experts from all over the world in a very condensed area so it’s a great place for mentorship.
Evangeline Galvez, MD (program director, Medicine Pediatrics Residency): Mass General has shown a commitment through its community health centers in the surrounding areas to serve the local communities and all of its diversity and they allow trainees the opportunity to be involved in clinical care at that level, and also involved in health equity research and social advocacy. And I think that’s an excellent opportunity for all the trainees to complement their hospital training as well.
Mathenge: We’re able to really reinforce our commitment to not only having a diverse workforce, but also improving access to care for patients that, for instance, we might not have been able to reach as effectively before.
Mullen: We draw patients locally, from the community at large. And some of these individuals come in with relatively simple problems, but some present with relatively complicated problems. In addition, we see patients who come from other parts of the United States, and of course other parts of the world, specifically to seek certain care that we offer.
Ibrahim: When we talk about MGH, we also have to mention Boston. Boston itself is a very diverse city, so there are people from all over the world in Boston. And that definitely made my transition easier. Especially for someone interested in advocacy work and working within communities, being in Boston was an absolutely great opportunity.
Bercow: Boston has actually been amazing. I think it’s sort of the best of all worlds. It’s not hard to get around, it’s extremely manageable, but there are a million different restaurants to try, all different cuisines, all different backgrounds. And then there’s a lot of outdoor space, and it’s very easy to get out of the city and enjoy the beach or the mountains or the lake. So I think that Boston really has everything that a large city has but also everything that a more manageable and smaller city has as well.
Co: I think many people don’t realize how quickly medicine is advancing, and because of that, it’s even more important to train in a place where people are developing those innovations. We have access not only to the people that are making the advances, but those people have the research funding to do the research, and support the trainees in doing that work and advancing their careers.
Bercow: Because we are in such amazing places with so many resources, if you have a research idea or there’s something you’re passionate about, you can find somebody who is also passionate about that, or is also doing research on that, or is willing to start doing research on that as it’s related to whatever they are working on.
Galvez: What I love about working for this institution is that there’s such a commitment to patient care and education, and it allows the physician to kind of become a leader of a multidisciplinary team.
Mullen: Although I happen to be a surgeon, I work so closely with every other specialty in the hospital. And so, one of the great benefits of training here is the tremendous discussions that we have as specialists across teams, to try to work together to arrive at a diagnosis, to deliver definitive care and then follow the patient long-term.
Galvez: I love, love, love working with the people here, so I am privileged to have incredible colleagues whose commitment to clinical care and medical education is absolutely inspiring.
Bercow: We have a GME Residency Wellness Committee that are always working on different projects to help residents balance that work and life that we often try to.
Alison Castle, MD (chief resident, medicine; fellow, infectious disease): Getting to see the way that our faculty here really truly care about the trainees, and how they go above and beyond to make sure that trainees are meeting their needs as far as wellness and childcare and many other aspects to our lives that they care about and will make changes in our training programs.
Westfal: The support for parental leave is something that is really unique among the Mass General Brigham programs.
Mullen: I want to see my graduates not only be outstanding doctors and surgeons, but I want to see the graduates go on to improve society. And whether that’s through groundbreaking research or through training the next generation of doctors.
Anna Condella, MD (resident, emergency medicine): I think you want to go someplace where you know the people are going to be good and supportive, and you know that it's going to open doors for you. And this place will do that.
Mathenge: The culture of Mass General is phenomenal. So it’s not just about you as a clinician but about you as a person. And everyone is really supportive about helping you thrive here both personally and professionally.
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