Get to know PGY 3 General Surgery Resident Dr. Yadira Villalvazo in three questions:
What do you think defines a great surgeon?
Humility. Great surgeons understand that they have a unique service that they can offer their community. It is something that they dedicated their life to studying, and they want to use it to aid their community. This service, while it can be life-changing, has all the same resolutions, requirements and limitations of any other service. Maintaining that humbleness drives us to not only perfect a skill but stay curious and motivated to learn new skills — all to provide the best care for their community. In that same realm, it also fosters a sense of responsibility and partnership with the patient and their family.
What is one impactful thing you have learned during your time so far as a resident?
Being a Latina surgeon and working with a large Latino population, the most impactful thing I have learned is that what I say matters. Patients and families often do not recognize the difference between an attending, a resident, a medical student, etc. Because of this, what I say and how I say it matters. How I conduct myself in situations, especially stressful ones, is a representation of how a surgeon conducts themselves (not a resident). When I say something, especially regarding medical advice, people will repeat with, “My doctor said…” This all became even more apparent these last couple of years with the rising health tensions. I have learned it is important to be cognizant of the role we play as medical professionals in our community.
What are a couple things that bring you joy?
One of the things that brings me the most joy is visiting places around the world that are different than my own home. I love experiencing new ways of how people communicate, eat, enjoy art, celebrate, work, etc. Traveling to new places that have little-to-no Western influence helps me challenge some of the biases, opinions, and social constructs I have unknowingly created in my head solely because of my environment. The world is so vast and beautiful, and there are endless places I cannot wait to visit. In the hospital, one of my new joys is playing music during procedures or dressing changes for patients. I love listening to music, and find it makes most hard situations at least tolerable, so I wanted to adopt that at work. I have them pick their favorite artist or genre. I find it comforts patients, especially on our Trauma/Acute Care Surgery service where we are doing a lot of procedures on patients we are meeting for the first time. It provides a sense of normalcy during a difficult situation. Plus, it’s a great way to bond with patients and I learn something about their interests that I would not have otherwise—many of their music choices have surprised me.