Himmelfarb Headlines - May / June 2021

Faculty Profile - Interview with Amy Caggiula, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine

Faculty Profile - Lalit Narayan Tell us a little bit about yourself, your current position, and why you decided to pursue a career in your field.
I am an assistant professor of emergency medicine here at GW, and my route to my current position was honestly a bit circuitous! I majored in international relations and economics in college, briefly worked on the Enron case, and somehow found myself in medical school.  It’s a much longer story than you want to read here, but I’m happy to share it if anyone asks me (long story short – I went to medical school on a dare). BUT! It was the best impetuous decision I ever made, and I couldn’t be happier in this career!

How did you become interested in your field?
I really enjoyed a lot of different specialties when I was in medical school, and I met amazing faculty and mentors in a number of fields. I briefly considered ENT, general surgery, radiology, and some of the IM subspecialties (my POM students will tell you that I get SUPER excited about GI and nephrology), but ultimately I realized that EM allowed me to dabble in all the things I liked.  I’ve also come to realize that my life outside clinical practice is very important to me – I love teaching and activism and the “extra-clinical” parts of my job just as much as I enjoy taking care of patients.  EM and the flexibility it offers have allowed me to explore those things more than a lot of other specialties would.

What brought you to GW?
Well, I’m basically a GW lifer.  I went to undergrad and medical school here.  I did residency in NYC and was faculty at Mt. Sinai for a few years before I came back, but I always knew GW was home.  I’m about 75% through my Master’s in Education here at GW, as well.  I can’t seem to stop getting GW degrees…

What has been your most memorable moment and biggest professional challenge?
My white coat ceremony when I first came to GW was very memorable for me, because my path to medical school still felt so surreal at that point.  Jim Scott gave me my first white coat, and when I returned to GW, one of my first faculty shifts was alongside Jim. I couldn’t stop calling him Dr. Scott – he had been my dean!  Still feels a little weird honestly.

Amy Caggiula White Coat Ceremony

As for my biggest professional challenge… too many to name.  Medicine is hard.  The healthcare landscape is changing.  That said, I feel grateful every single day that I get to do this job.  My parents never graduated from college – I’ve been given opportunities that they didn’t have, and I feel extremely privileged.

What library resources or services have you found to be the most useful?
Help with literature reviews!!  The librarians are so helpful, and I think a lot of medical students and junior faculty do not utilize them to the fullest.  Also, having access to as many journals and databases as we do is extremely helpful for anyone doing research and scholarly projects.

Whom do you admire?
My spouse.  She puts up with me.  Enough said. 

How do you spend your free time? (or What do you do to relax?)
Pretty much anything outdoors.  I love to hike and backpack.  I’m newly into cycling (indoor and outdoor).  During the pandemic my spouse and I actually sold our house and moved to be “closer to nature”.  Being home so much really showed us what our priorities are and what makes us happiest.

What advice would you give to a new faculty member just starting at GW?
Be discerning about how you choose to focus your extra-clinical time, but also be open to any and all opportunities that present themselves.  I have a hard time saying no to projects (which does put some limits on my free time!), but I’m really gratified by the things I do outside of clinical practice, and I’m very happy with the career I’ve crafted for myself so far.

 


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