Heather Shanks, DO, PGY2, ACOFP Resident Governor

South Baldwin Regional Medical Center in Foley, Alabama 

Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pikeville, Kentucky  

Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, Minor in Sociology, Nursing School 

Why did you choose this residency program?

Ultimately, because it was a location that offers both proximity to family and easy access to the beach! 

Why did you choose family medicine?  

I enjoy working with people. There is a great deal of diversity in patient populations as well as procedure opportunities. I have a future goal of having my own practice model, and the ability to integrate OMT and aesthetics. 

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

Throughout the week I go to work on whichever rotation I happen to be on that month (a lot like 3rd and 4th year in medical school). Every day from noon to 1 p.m. we have didactics with a provided lunch and learn from upper-level residents and faculty as well as guest lecturers. I mostly have weekends off to visit family and friends, and I am usually off at a decent time to be with my dogs 🙂 We have some planned resident activities throughout the month (beach trips, escape rooms, putt putt, etc.) that I also participate in given my schedule. 

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

Spending time visiting with friends and family, playing with my dogs, and hanging out with my coresidents. And having the beach within fifteen minutes allows me to go often. 

Why did you volunteer to join the Resident Council?  

As Resident Governor of ACOFP, I am involved with many committees, including the Resident Council. My decision to apply for this volunteer position was fueled by my passion for ACOFP and my desire to be an advocate for residents across different programs in the United States. I hope to continue as a member of the ACOFP Board of Governors as a physician in practice, and this opportunity was an excellent way to get started.

Were you involved with ACOFP as a student?  

I started my involvement as a first-year student member with a subsequent role as vice president of my ACOFP student chapter. I attended the annual conventions to take advantage of the free student workshops and educational opportunities. In my chapter and at conventions, I was able to build connections with future leaders and current members of ACOFP. 

What is your advice to students?  

Be flexible because schedules change, study styles change, and last-minute meetings will come up. I know I personally had to change my study style depending on the class each semester. 

When was the first time you realized you wanted to be a physician?  

It took me a long time to realize that I could be a physician. I knew that I wanted to work in healthcare at a very early age, but I didn’t know in what capacity. I started out in psychiatry as a tech, then went to nursing school, and finally, after some amazing mentors convinced me, I went to school for premed. So, although I had the dream of becoming a physician very early on, it was not until I was in my early twenties that I actually decided to follow my dream of becoming a physician. 

If you could meet one famous dead person, who would it be?  

Betty White. She was such an amazing person with a beautiful soul, and I would have loved to meet her. 

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?  

Nicole Bixler, and luckily, I have turned this into a reality! 

What would you title an autobiography or memoir? 

She Believed She Could, So She Did 

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