The Student Association of the ACOFP continues to partner with the Resident Council on personal interviews. We are excited about the insights and perspectives our residents provide students in planning for residency and engaging in volunteer opportunities within ACOFP.

This month, students interviewed Athena Chatzigiannidis, DO, to learn more about her residency program, what being a part of ACOFP means to her and what advice she has for students.

Meet Athena Chatzigiannidis, DO

Athena Chatzigiannidis, DO, PGY-2
Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital
Tahlequah, Oklahoma


Why did you choose this residency program?

One of my first rotations of my third year of medical school was at Cherokee Nation, and this program set the bar high for each of my latter rotations. I chose my program for several reasons, including location (within an hour and a half of my family), supportive and invested faculty, and co-residents who I felt could serve as a second family during my three years of residency. I think it’s important to consider what your education—and overall mental wellness—will look like in residency and choose a program that will cater to both of those areas and is the best fit for you!

What is a typical day like in your life as a resident?

I spend every Monday in clinic seeing ambulatory patients. Because my program is at an Indian Health Service (IHS) facility, all my patients are beneficiaries. Many of our patients have several barriers and obstacles to health care, which results in a panel full of higher-acuity patients. Working for Cherokee Nation has been a unique and rewarding educational and service opportunity for me as a new resident. Tuesday through Thursday of each week I will rotate through various specialties in our clinic and hospital. Friday mornings are reserved for our dedicated osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) and procedure clinic, and Friday afternoons are spent in resident-led didactics and workshops.

Why did you choose family medicine?

Throughout my third and fourth years of medical school, I found very few rotations that I did not enjoy. I quickly realized a passion for treating women and children and recognized that family medicine could afford me the opportunity to do both. I’ve always wanted to practice in a rural area outside of Tulsa or Oklahoma City, so training as a rural family physician allows me to practice and provide full-spectrum medical care to my patients, as well as their entire families.

Why did you volunteer to join the Resident Council?

My involvement with ACOFP began as a first-year medical student when my second-year mentor suggested I join the organization. I was encouraged by a mentor to apply for leadership and served as our local chapter vice president before going on to serve as the National Student Executive Board secretary and later the student governor on the ACOFP Board of Governors.

In each of those leadership roles, I grew as a leader, physician and person, and formed connections with mentors that I can call friends today. Joining the ACOFP Resident Council was the next logical step for me in continuing to advocate for the advancement of our profession, as well as to give back to the organization that has provided me with so many opportunities to grow.

What do you like most about ACOFP?

ACOFP is an organization for family, by family—meaning that this organization provides so much more than just a professional home for osteopathic family physicians. At conferences and throughout the year, my peers and mentors from ACOFP are in communication with me to check on my progress as a resident and to provide encouragement when days are tough. The supportive and collaborative environment fostered by ACOFP, as well as the work this organization does to advocate for our profession, are just a few of the things that I love most about ACOFP!

What is your one word of advice to students?

Challenge yourself. Now’s the time to make mistakes and to learn. No one expects a medical student to get everything right every time—that’s why you’re a student! It’s better to make mistakes while under close supervision than to wait for residency (or after) to make those mistakes without a safety net. Be brave and challenge yourself to take on new things.

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