Theirs was the Driscoll Children’s Hospital Pediatric Residency Program class bookended by external circumstances beyond their control.
The Class of 2020’s first year started with Hurricane Harvey in August 2017; their last year ended with COVID-19.
But in the words of William Faulkner upon accepting his Nobel Prize for Literature, they not merely endured but prevailed.
Although their graduation ceremony won’t be held Friday, June 19, because of COVID-19, their camaraderie was not diminished. Instead, the class of 16 graduating residents will celebrate by having a dinner together in a smaller group setting with social distancing measures to make graduation day memorable.
Such an intimate gathering is appropriate, considering how much the residents have shared together.
“The bond I share with my co-residents is the bond I share with my family. Over the three years we have bonded into one family,” said Pranav Gupta, MD.
“When I came to Driscoll, I immediately felt the difference. It provided the feeling of home, the sense of belonging. Everyone was nice and friendly and the residents here seemed to be genuinely happy. Residency is tough no matter where you go but I wanted to be in a place where I would feel happy,” said Shang-Chen (Allison) Wu, MD.
For residents, that happiness is heightened by the sense of belonging they share.
“People here always do their best to support you, which makes you want to be like them. You would want to be the person who can provide similar support when others need it,” said Dr. Wu.
That support comes from both their teachers – the Driscoll physicians – and their fellow co-residents.
“Nowhere else in the world can you find residents and faculty members of such a high caliber who are also so kind and friendly,” said Dr. Wu.
“The appreciation of diversity, kindness and warmth shown by the staff and the fact that everyone seemed so happy here made me choose Driscoll to pursue my pediatric residency,” said Dr. Gupta, who is from India. “Diversity and the fact that co-residents have each other’s backs is what makes Driscoll’s residency program unique.”
Dr. Wu, who is from Taiwan, agreed that diversity is one of the program’s strongest assets.
“This program has the perfect combination of foreign graduates and American graduates, where each group can learn from each other. Foreign graduates provide great diversity to this program while American graduates help foreign graduates adapt to the culture. It is a beautiful blending,” she said.
“I admire the diversity-enhancing culture at Driscoll, which allows you to work alongside colleagues with a wide variety of background, equally diverse interests and unique talents. This creates a stimulating learning environment which, to me, makes the educational experience much more interesting,” said Luisa Raga, MD, who is from Venezuela.
For Dr. Raga, Driscoll became her “home away from home.”
“I can’t say enough about the quality of the people I’ve found at Driscoll and the impact they had on who I am today. Here I have cultivated quality lifelong friendships with residents and faculty. I also found mentors that I highly admire for their integrity and exceptional way of taking care of children. It was very easy to enjoy my days of residency training surrounded by the Driscoll family,” said Dr. Raga.
For Dr. Gupta, Hurricane Harvey, the Class of 2020’s introduction to South Texas, was a watershed event that also was a microcosm of their upcoming three years together.
“It was a challenging time for everyone but it was so heartwarming to see that even in the middle of a calamity how working like a team with our staff and patients made everything so easy to deal with. The kindness of Driscoll employees is something that I haven’t seen anywhere else,” said Dr. Gupta.
For Dr. Wu, the Driscoll Children’s Hospital Pediatric Residency Program helped shape her approach toward medicine.
“I believe being a pediatrician is one of the most privileged jobs in the world because of the impact you have on kids, which might change his/her trajectory forever.”
What does the future hold for these three young physicians?
Dr. Gupta will begin his Pediatric Endocrinology Fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Raga will begin her Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Wu will be working in Houston, at a community center and at Texas Children’s Hospital Urgent Care.
Dr. Wu’s description of her three years at Driscoll sums up well the general experience the residents experienced: “When you want something, all the program conspires in helping you to achieve it.”