Name: Cassandra Bradby
Specialty: Emergency Medicine
Residency: SUNY Downstate Medical Center/ Kings County Hospital Center
Medical School: Meharry Medical College
Undergraduate: The College of William and Mary
1) When did you decide you wanted to become a Medical Doctor and what led to this decision?
I’ve wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember. My mom is a registered nurse, so I’ve always been around medicine and hospitals. I think it really solidified when I was in middle school and did one of those “shadow a doctor for a day” programs. I followed around a podiatrist that day, but I loved seeing how she interacted with patients, as well as how much they enjoyed talking to her.
2) What was the most difficult part of getting into Medical School for you?
Definitely taking the MCAT! The application process isn’t so bad – though the essays were quite painful.
3) How did you study for the MCAT? How do you recommend students study for the MCAT?
I took the Princeton Review Course, which I thought was amazing. Like most standardized tests, they key to the test isn’t just studying, but it’s doing practice questions. The more practice you have, the better off you are.
4) What did you do during your undergraduate summers?
Freshman year – I worked as a Behavioral Counselor/Mental Health Technician at a local children’s residential hospital (I did this throughout college).
Sophomore year – I did the MMEP program (which I think is now called the SMDEP program) at Yale. It was a great experience and I’m still friends with several of the people that I went there with.
Junior Year – I worked as a scribed in the local emergency department. It was a good eye opener to what medicine is really like and what is expected of you. I also learned a lot about medical terms and good documentation.
Senior Year – I took the princeton review course to study for the MCAT and geared up for starting the Post-Baccalaureate program at VCU.
5) What is one thing you wish someone told you while you were in college?
Major in whatever you want – medical schools do not care about what your major is, as long as you did well in your premed courses and in whatever curriculum you chose. Get involved on campus! You have to have things on your resume other than attending school – community service organizations, sports, clubs, whatever you like. Just have fun with it.
6) What led you to choose your current specialty?
I liked a little bit of everything during my 3rd year of medical school and I love procedures, so I needed a specialty that would allow me to see all different kinds of patients across multiple branches of medicine. Emergency medicine and family medicine are about the only two specialties that see such a breadth of patients – kids, adults, geriatrics, obstetrics. After doing rotations in both departments, I learned that I like acute care medicine more than primary care, so I decided to go with Emergency Medicine.
7) Briefly describe your average work day.
I work anywhere from 7 hour shifts to 12 hour shifts depending on the location that I am at that day. I cover the children’s emergency department and the adult emergency department depending on the schedule. I’ll see anywhere from 12-40 patients in a shift with a wide range of medical problems from heart attacks to strokes to broken bones to simple cuts and bruises. I also spend a fair amount of my time teaching residents at the bedside, as I work at a teaching hospital. The nice part is that when my shift is over, I can sign out to the next attending and head home. No pagers and no home call.
8) What do you enjoy most about your profession? What do you enjoy least?
I love interacting with patients. Because I see such a wide range of ages, every patient encounter is something new and different. I also really love taking care of the critical patient and stabilizing them well enough for the ICU docs or surgeons or other specialists to take over their care. The hardest part about emergency medicine for me is knowing that there are so many things that we cannot fix – our system is broken. A lot of the complaints in the ER could be handled by patient’s primary care doctors but because they have no insurance or are unable to get an appointment with that doctor, they end up in the ER much later in their disease process than they would be if they could have been seen sooner. Often times, at that point fixable things are no longer fixable, or at least not easily fixable.
9) What words of advice would you like to leave with pre-medical students?
Be happy! Go into medicine because it is what YOU want to do. Don’t do this for anyone else. Do your research, shadow physicians, spend some quality time with mentors. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into, so that you can make an informed decision.
10) If you had to start over and choose a career again, would you pick medicine? Why or why not?
Absolutely! There is nothing else that I can think of that I would enjoy more than medicine. I love my job. I love teaching the residents. How many jobs can you have where you actually FIX someone’s problem immediately? I do this often in my job, and it makes me smile!