Where are they now: Sheena CarlLee, MD

Sheena CarlLee, MD. Associate Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Northwest

What were some of the projects you worked on while you were at Iowa and how did this work prepare you for your career?

I wanted to focus on education innovations during my chief year, and I learned a lot in doing so. Drs. [Manish] Suneja and [Katie] Harris laid a good foundation for us during their annual residency series on clinical decision-making and diagnostic errors, and as chiefs, we wanted to continue and expand on that. I tried to increase the number of case conferences we had, which I think is a great way to use the skills mentioned above. We can learn a lot from breaking down the bread-and-butter cases, not just the cool “zebras.” It was fascinating to me to learn how my peers thought through a patient’s presentation, and I also learned a lot by moderating these discussions. I use what I’ve learned every day now in my role as an APD and as a primary care physician, helping me to be a better clinician and a better educator.

What is a “fun fact” (however you want to interpret this) about you that folks here might not know?

Well, I was kind of an open book when I was at Iowa, and I don’t think anyone would describe me as quiet or shy, so I think my former Iowa family knows pretty much everything about me! But, I had a baby towards the end of my time at Iowa, so some might not know that. He’s 2 now, and he’s a great kid. Also, I have a black belt. I got it in 6th grade, so I’ve lost most of my skills haha–but I had it at one point!

What was most valuable to you during your years at the University of Iowa?

The strong sense of community, friendly faces, and amazing mentorship. Residency is probably the hardest 3 years of one’s career, but it really didn’t feel that way at Iowa. I was so constantly supported and uplifted that the time really flew by. I think the amazing mentors and attendings I worked with shaped the physician I am today, and I’m so proud that I trained at Iowa.

What is one memory that stands out from your time at Iowa?

It’s hard to choose just one. I remember I laughed at work—a lot. We had a lot of good times joking outside the chief’s office after noon conference every day. And of course, coffee with Dr. Suneja! I remember our heated jeopardy noon conferences (shout out to Team Beck). I remember the salads from the 7th floor dining room and catching some sunshine during lunch on a busy inpatient day.

What is something you learned at Iowa that you still use in your current role?

Really what I learned the most at Iowa was how to step back and listen—to my patients, to my colleagues, to my mentors, and to my learners. I’ve been the loudest person in the room since Kindergarten, so when I look back at what’s changed from the time I entered residency and the time I left, it’s my ability to be quiet and listen when I need to. I learned empathy, compassion, fairness, and patience from watching it being practiced daily by my mentors.

How do you maintain a life-work balance in your current role?

I put my phone away when I get home and don’t respond to emails (that aren’t urgent) until I get back in the office the next day. My ideal weekends consist of a houseful of loved ones spending time together and laughing, which I can’t wait to get back to post-COVID. Time with family and friends recharges me to get back into the office and give it my all.

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