A doctor’s day

March 30, 2017  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Eileen Carpenter begins her day bright and early, taking care of her two sons before heading to the academic medical center to work with patients and learn from some of the best specialists in internal medicine.

Even though she arrives by 6 a.m., she often doesn’t return home until 8 p.m. or later. It’s all part of the routine for a resident at Michigan Medicine.

“I love everything about this career,” said Eileen, an M.D. and Ph.D. who is in the second year of her internal medicine residency at U-M. “Days may be long, but I get to work with fantastic teammates and I get the chance to take care of people when they need it the most.”

Today is National Doctors’ Day, a time to honor the dedication of the organization’s doctors, fellows and residents like Eileen.

Best of both worlds

Residents — doctors who have graduated from medical school and train in a particular specialty under the supervision of attending physicians — utilize hard work, dedication and sacrifice to learn their craft and provide the highest quality of care to patients and families.

For Eileen, that means staying committed to a program she estimates will take seven years. Once she finishes up her residency, she will begin a fellowship at U-M in gastroenterology, where she will focus on research and other issues pertaining to pancreatic cancer.

“By the ripe age of 36 or 37, I should finally be a grown-up,” Eileen said with a smile.

Eileen’s love of science and medicine goes back to her teenage years when her mother passed away from pancreatic cancer.

“I just couldn’t believe that there was so little that could be done for patients like my mom,” Eileen said. “At that point, I vowed to go into science and research pancreatic cancer for the rest of my life.

“Being a physician scientist, I get the best of both worlds,” Eileen continued. “I can take a deeper look into the root causes of pancreatic cancer while still meeting with patients in the clinic.”

Never stop learning

For now, Eileen spends her time in residency learning from experts and gaining valuable experience. Every morning during a clinical rotation, Eileen pre-rounds to check on the health status of her patients. Then she meets with the attending physician before taking part in two educational opportunities — senior report and the noon conference.

“Those are both chances to learn about specialties or take a deeper look at teaching cases,” Eileen said. “We may be doctors, but we never stop learning.”

In the afternoon, Eileen and other residents continue to see patients, including anyone newly admitted to the unit. They don’t go home until every patient has been attended to.

“That could be 4 p.m., it could be well after 8 p.m.,” Eileen said. “In the end, we are all working together to learn as much as we can and get patients healthy and home as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter how long that takes, and working alongside great colleagues every day makes it easy to come in with a positive attitude.”

Striking a balance

With only four days off each month, Eileen does her best to balance her work with family time. She and her husband have two boys, a 5-year-old and a 10-month-old.

“My husband is incredible,” Eileen said. “He has a full-time job too, but he never complains about having to be a single parent at times. He knows that this line of work is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Every night, Eileen makes sure to spend time with her children. And on her days off, the family eats breakfast together before heading to a museum, hiking trail or — best of all, according to Eileen — Costco.

“The days off are great,” Eileen said. “Because we always get to spend time as a family. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

Is there a doctor, fellow or resident at Michigan Medicine you’d like to recognize? Let us know