Name: Carla Francesca Justiniano
Where are you from originally? Arecibo, Puerto Rico
Where was your undergraduate institution? The Ohio State University: BS in Molecular Genetics; Minors in Economics and Slavic & Eastern European Literature
Where are you going for your residency and what is your specialty? University of Rochester/Strong Memorial Hospital General Surgery
Who was your mentor at the College of Medicine? Dr. Stanislaw Stawicki was my research and surgery mentor since my first year of medical school. I cannot think of a more enthusiastic and helpful mentor. The first day we met he asked me about my goals, and then he said okay I’m going to help you get there! He did indeed help me to become a strong general surgery candidate and future-surgeon.
What are your most thankful for in regards to your College of Medicine education? I am thankful for everyone who ever told me “yes” when they could’ve told me “no.” I truly appreciate every opportunity I had that allowed me to see the things I needed to see to know what I wanted to pursue and for every opportunity that allowed me to show I was worth becoming what I wanted to become. With medical school now ending, I acknowledge every “yes” I ever received, in terms of research, financial opportunities, and clinical opportunities, which allowed me to pursue my dream.
What made you decide to come to Ohio State? Since I attended Ohio State for my undergraduate studies, I was well aware of the vast and significant research opportunities available at Ohio State as well as resources for personal support. Although I initially looked beyond Ohio State for medical school, I was totally convinced to stay after experiencing such a wonderful medical school environment on interview day. I felt an environment where people wanted to excel together; meanwhile, being kind and happy. This held true.
Why did you choose a career in medicine? When I was seven years old, I rode in the backseat of my mother’s SUV along with my grandfather in Puerto Rico as we drove him to the VA with chest pain, and I experienced seeing my first heart attack. This was just a vivid example of a reality that was constantly around me – people, my family, constantly struggling to live. This reality resonated as I grew up and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my life than to helping others live. In addition, I love building working relationships with patients; patients intimately allow us into their lives – what a privilege I experience daily.
What advice do you have for students entering medical school at Ohio State next year who are interested in pursuing a career similar to yours? First of, take care of yourself – exercise and eat well – this will help you do everything else well. Second, work hard and be proactive. Ask for help and ask for opportunities – someone might just say yes to your proposal. Third, be kind to others no matter what, especially your patients, he/she might be just another patient on your daily list but it could be the worst day of his/her life, and patients always remember how you made them feel regardless of what was accomplished medically. In the words of Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Fourth, always show gratitude.
Most memorable moment(s) at Ohio State? Although I have many memorable moments at Ohio State, I think highlights of medical school eventually become patient-centered. At the beginning of medical school we learn to “palpate” so many normal abdomens that we wonder if we will ever feel an abnormal one. During my Pediatrics rotation during my third year, I was the first member of the medical team to notice a distended belly on a 3-week old neonate; my finding lead to further imaging where we found problems with the neonate’s kidneys and urinary tract. My physical exam changed this neonate’s course of management for the better – that day I felt like my clinical training was validated and I was so proud to be a medical student from The Ohio State University.
What does an ideal Sunday look like for you? Sleep in just a little, work out, and Northstar Café brunch!
Hobbies? Volunteer work? I’ve been learning to play golf and it is much more fun than I expected! My favorite volunteer activity during medical school was Clinica Latina – a bimonthly free clinic where all volunteers speak Spanish.