They Poured Their Hearts into Teaching, Now They’re Healing Hearts
These four alums still work with children every day, but now they also set broken bones, counsel anxious families, and repair failing hearts big and small.
October 15, 2018
Tell us about your job.
Geigle: I work as the medical director on several teams, including two that provide services to psychiatric patients who are at risk of hospitalization or who live in intensive home foster care. I also see patients for medication management appointments.
Ho: I care for hospitalized children and infants and attend high-risk newborn deliveries at a hospital serving the Alaska Native and American Indian populations. I also take calls from physicians throughout the state to coordinate transfers, often by air ambulance, and to answer pediatric care questions.
Lim: I provide inpatient and outpatient care for pediatric patients with a wide variety of congenital heart diseases. I specialize in the treatment of advanced heart failure, which includes caring for patients before and after heart transplantation.
Seligman: I tend to a wide variety of illnesses and injuries, from broken bones and asthma attacks to disease-related complications and psychiatric crises. I also work at the pediatric trauma center for the region, caring for severely injured children and providing direction to EMS and life flight crews.
What is it about pediatrics that appealed to you?
Ho: My favorite experiences from teaching were the relationships I built with my students and their families. In medicine, I feel a similar sense of satisfaction. I’m drawn to the challenges of a specialty that requires building trust and relationships to provide care to children.
What teaching skills do you call on in your work now?
Geigle: Flexibility, the ability to work with a variety of people and skill sets, creative thinking, and understanding the real-world stresses of my patients.
Ho: Differentiation. I teach complicated medical concepts to patients and families from different backgrounds, and I check for understanding.
Your favorite odd or amazing fact about the human body is…
Lim: When an infant receives a heart transplant, the heart will grow with the child as he or she gets older.
Seligman: Our sense of balance and direction are tied to tiny stones floating in fluid deep in the ear canal, called otoliths.
Do you feel like your work now is still in pursuit of One Day?
Geigle: When we are able to help alleviate mental illness, children can be present for their education. And when children are properly diagnosed with learning disabilities instead of written off as oppositional or “needing meds,” their teachers can accommodate them and encourage their strengths.
Seligman: Every day I treat the most vulnerable youth, as the emergency department is often a safety net for children without reliable access to primary care. I continue to educate patients and parents about their own health and wellness so they can be successful in other aspects of their lives.
In your field, what attributes or mindsets have you found to be essential?
Geigle: Curiosity and challenging your own conclusions. We don’t always get the whole story the first time.
Ho: Effective listening skills, teamwork, strong work ethic, and patience. Someone drawn to medicine is naturally drawn to leading, but the need to be in control can become the downfall of brilliant physicians.
Lim: Compassion. Additionally, I continue to work on developing effective leadership skills. As an attending physician, I lead and supervise a large team. We need to be able to work together effectively in order to provide high-quality care.
Seligman: Calm in chaos. Prepared for anything. Ability to multitask and prioritize.
What are you most proud of so far in your work?
Ho: During residency, I rotated through rural southwestern Alaska in the small town of Bethel, where I worked with a team of residents and attending physicians to open a school-based health clinic. The clinic serves students to provide acute care, sports physicals, STI testing, pregnancy prevention, and much more.
Lim: I spend a considerable amount of time educating medical students, pediatric residents, and fellows training in cardiology. This year, I received a teaching award from the pediatric residents.
Seligman: I have been fortunate to present research nationally, contribute to life-saving clinical work, and be a medical educator. But high-fives from children on the way to recovery are my favorite affirmations to date.
What have your young patients taught you about how to live as an adult?
Geigle: Express your own emotions, both positive and negative, and your needs. Say “I love you!” more.
Ho: Live in the present.
Lim: I take care of extremely sick children who often have to deal with their own mortality. Despite this, they amaze me with their strength and resilience. They have taught me not to take things for granted and to take chances even if it seems scary.
Seligman: There is humanity even in the darkest of times. Find the simple joys in life and embrace them fully.
Advice from a Career Coach: Think about your network like a bank account: Submit deposits before making withdrawals.
By Kara Pierre
So you’ve been to a few networking mixers, exchanged business cards, and squirreled away savings to join LinkedIn Premium. But how to make it all work? Kara Pierre, who leads Teach For America’s Networking and Opportunities team, helped launch TFA Connect BETA, an online platform connecting alums to each other and employers. One feature allows users to click on a company and find out which alums currently work there (or have in the past) and what they do. But then what? We asked Pierre:
Q: When I know someone at a place where I’d like to apply, what can I expect? And how can I make the most of that relationship?
It makes a ton of sense to leverage your network as part of the job application process and to spend time figuring out your connections at a company of interest.
However, before reaching out to a contact with an ask, consider the strength of your relationship. You don’t want to “over-ask” someone with limited knowledge of your qualifications to pass along your resumé or vouch for your candidacy. Rather, consider setting up time for an exploratory conversation about the workplace. Show respect for your contact’s time by aiming for the call to be no more than 30 minutes (which may open the door to future exchanges), and come prepared with three or four specific questions in mind.
Practice cultivating network relationships over time and adding value by offering your own expertise and connections. When you ask a contact to share your resumé or offer career advice, it shouldn’t feel out-of-the-blue or overly self-serving. Think about your network like a bank account: Submit deposits before making withdrawals.
Illustrations by Alexander Mostov