In this month’s Resident Council Spotlight, hear from Resident Council Chair Athena Chatzigiannidis, DO, PGY-3, as she discusses why she chose family medicine and her residency program, and what her life as a resident is like.

Meet Athena Chatzigiannidis, DO

Athena Chatzigiannidis, DO, PGY-3
College of Osteopathic Medicine: Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Residency Program: Oklahoma State University, OMECO Cherokee Nation Family Medicine in Tahlequah, Oklahoma


Why did you choose family medicine?

My primary care physician growing up was a role model. I loved going to the doctor as a kid and looked up to him as someone I hoped to emulate. I babysat for his children in my teens, shadowed both him and his wife in undergrad, obtained a letter of recommendation for medical school from him and still keep in touch with him today as a resident. When I decided to pursue medicine, I wanted to be the type of doctor who shared that type of longitudinal relationship with my own patients. Additionally, family medicine provides me with the lifestyle I want and the opportunity to build a practice based on the patient population, procedures and care that I find most rewarding.

Why did you choose this residency program?

I chose my residency for several reasons. I knew I wanted to practice in a rural area, but it was also important to me to stay close to my family. The residency I chose is not only about an hour away from my family, but also provided the opportunity to learn from faculty that I felt were invested in my education and willing to help me shape the type of practice I hope to have after residency. Social fit was an important criterion for my selection, and I feel as though my colleagues have become a second family over the past few years. Working with others who have a positive outlook on training and working with one another was a big factor in my selection. Finally, this residency assured me that I could obtain additional training in women’s health and was supportive of my interests in association leadership within the ACOFP.

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

As a PGY-3 in my program, we have two days a week in the clinic and the rest of the week on our assigned rotations. Tuesdays I spend the day in the outpatient pediatrics clinic, Wednesdays are in the resident clinic with general primary care, and the rest of the week I’m rotating between specialties for my rotations. I’m currently completing this spotlight series in the hospital at 3 am while on inpatient nights! For our program, we have dedicated didactics scheduled each Friday from noon to 5 pm. My residency has incorporated additional labs, ultrasound simulations and clinical skills workshops into our training on these days. We typically also have resident case presentations and attending lectures each Friday.

What do you like to do in your time outside of residency?

I love to garden, craft and spend time with my two pups. My garden is currently full of cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, okra, and cucumbers. Every so often, I’ll bring my harvest to Friday didactics to share.

Why did you volunteer to join the Resident Council?

My involvement in the ACOFP began as a first-year medical student and has only grown since that time. As a student I served as both the National Student Executive Board secretary and as student governor on the ACOFP Board of Governors. Serving on the Resident Council allowed me to continue being a voice for my colleagues and peers and to advocate for the advancement of osteopathic family medicine and primary care.

I’ve been fortunate to serve as the vice chair and most recently chair of the Resident Council. These roles have allowed me to direct change affecting board certification, resident engagement and opportunities, and resource development affecting residents and new physicians. Additionally, I’ve met lifelong friends through the council, and get to spend a few hours each month connecting with residents from across the nation who share unique ideas and perspectives.

Were you involved with ACOFP as a student?

Absolutely! In addition to the leadership roles that I held as a student, most of my mentors today are physicians that I met through ACOFP as a student.

What do you like most about ACOFP?

The relationships that I have formed with colleagues and mentors are second to none.

What is your one word of advice to students?

Do not be afraid to make mistakes, but always learn from them. As a student, you’re expected to make mistakes! It’s called practicing medicine for a reason. You will never have more oversight in your training than you do now, so take advantage of it. Ask questions when appropriate and do your own research when you are unsure. Medical school and residency will only teach you as much as you are willing to learn. You have to put yourself out there and be willing to try new things and challenge yourself to become a truly great doctor.

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