Letter from Current Resident | Puja Shah Berry, MD

Dear Applicant,

Welcome to the UVA surgery department, the best surgery department in the country!  Thank you for taking time to look at our program during your residency search.  This is a particularly exciting, yet also anxiety provoking, time in your life.   My hope for you is that you find a program that “feels like it fits” and UVA just might be that place for you.

When I was looking at different programs, I was particularly interested in the experiences the residents had and how it shaped them as surgeons.  At UVA, you will find wonderful mentors who become lifelong advice gurus, enthusiastic and friendly staff, and co-residents that essentially become siblings.  I first knew UVA was the right program for me when I did a visiting acting internship here during my fourth year of medical school.  I immediately noticed the comradery amongst residents and the collegial nature of the attending-resident relationship.  The chief residents were always available and willing to take junior residents through appropriate portions of cases; they even sought out interns and second years to join them in the operating room.  Separate from this, I was in awe of the constant teaching that occurred daily “on the fly” as part of rounds or while hanging out in the workroom.  There is also a morning report session every morning, where residents sign out overnight cases.  There is a great deal of case based learning during this session which has been hugely helpful for me personally during my time here.

It also quickly became apparent that the vast majority of residents were immersed in research.  I knew early on research was something I wanted to be a part of.  Fortunately, UVA provided the perfect environment to stimulate my learning.  I was lucky enough to obtain a Master’s Degree in Clinical Research during my lab time (paid for by my department), which really deepened my understanding of two primary endpoints.  I was certainly able to dissect articles better in order to determine what should be practice changing.  Perhaps more importantly, I learned how to initiate and complete research projects in an organized, stepwise fashion.  I experienced a huge amount of support by my faculty mentors throughout this and have been incredibly productive from a research standpoint because of the support I have received here.  In fact, you will find the overall research productivity of the UVA surgery residents is second to none.

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about our wonderful program here and we hope to see you during the interview season!