Day in the Life of a Resident

Nicholas Gavern, MD

Where are you from and where did you go to medical school?

Grand Rapids MI.  Michigan State College of Human Medicine

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What attracted you to the PM&R residency program here at the University of Utah?

I was looking for a program that would give me a wide variety of exposures to all the facets of PM&R as well as a great educational experience and felt like the University of Utah was exactly what I was looking for.

What particular aspects of the program do you think have been most beneficial to you?

While just starting PGY2 year I haven’t had much exposure yet my limited experience with the program has been really good. At this point I have to say the people, both the medical and administrative staff have been incredibly helpful and supportive.

What is your most memorable experience during your residency?

Getting to know my co-residents both in the hospital and out exploring Utah camping, hiking and climbing.

What is your favorite activity outside of work?

Hiking and Climbing.

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What is your most memorable experience outside of work?

Hard to pick a single experience, any one of the camping trips, hikes or days spent exploring Salt Lake!

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Justin Provo, MD

Where are you from and where did you go to medical school?

I was born into a military family and have traveled all over the USA. I mostly lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico since high school and went to the University of New Mexico for med school.

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What attracted you to the PM&R residency program here at the University of Utah?

This program had all the things I wanted in a residency. The faculty and coresidents are all great, well-rounded people who lead fun lives outside of work. You get great training in spinal cord injury and sports medicine, two of the areas I am most interested. Being in a categorical program let me make friends with lots of faculty and residents from other specialties. Finally, Salt Lake City is an amazing city if you love outdoorsy activities!

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What particular aspects of the program do you think have been most beneficial to you?

I am just finishing up intern year, so I would say that the fact that Utah is a categorical program has been the most beneficial thing so far. I received great training from the Utah IM program and met a lot of other residents and faculty that I will be working with in the future.

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What is your most memorable experience during your residency?

Being able to tell a wife that her young husband, who had been in the ICU ECMO for 2 months, was coming off the ventilator and that we expected him to make a full recovery.

What is your favorite activity outside of work?

I spend most of my time either playing sports like tennis, volleyball, soccer or doing outdoorsy things like hiking, backpacking, and skiing.

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What is your most memorable experience outside of work?

Hard to pick one, but I would say backpacking in the Sawtooth mountain’s in Idaho!

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Suzan Lisenby, MD

Where are you from and where did you go to medical school?

I grew up in Wichita, KS and then went to University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) where I played tennis. I loved the city and university, therefore, I stuck around UMKC for medical school as well. Go Roos!

What attracted you to the PM&R residency program here at the University of Utah?

I was drawn to the PM&R residency program at the UofU by the wonderful people, the wide-ranging educational / training opportunities, and of course the outdoor recreation!

What particular aspects of the program do you think have been most beneficial to you?

The relationships that I’ve developed with my co-residents, faculty, mentors, and patients. These individuals in addition to the structure of the residency program itself have supported my growth as a human and physician. As somebody who is interested in many things in the field of PM&R, I have been able explore the wide-ranging career paths and follow my medical curiosities to find the best career fit for me.

What is your most memorable experience during your residency?

The whole gang skiing together with Dr. Willick!

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Do you have a mentor? If so, who is it? And how has this person helped you?

Mentorship is key for physician development and physician wellness at all career stages. We are fortunate in that there is no shortage of wonderful faculty at the UofU who are willing to serve as a mentor for residents. I have multiple mentors: one that is assigned as part of the residency program, Dr. Flis, but there are several others who with whom I’ve developed mentorship relationships organically due to my career exploration. Each one has been pivotal in my training. They all make time for genuine conversations about my personal goals and offer precious advice and guidance.

What is your favorite activity outside of work?

Recreating in nature with my dog, Winnie – I can’t pick just one favorite activity! 

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What is your most memorable experience outside of work?

When family (pictured here) and friends come to Utah to visit me and explore this beautiful state.

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Meredith Ehn, DO

Where are you from and where did you go to medical school?

I was born and raised in Western NJ but have been fortunate to call many regions of the East Coast my home. After spending years in Richmond, VA for college and graduate school, I moved north to NH to be near family and snow. After a short time in NH, I found myself in Upstate NY. While in Albany, I began to contemplate returning to school. Apparently 7 years of post-secondary education was not quite enough for me. Having been on the front lines of watching a loved one go through medical school, I decided to return to my support system, home to NJ and family. My return to the great Garden State landed me at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (formerly the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey), from which I graduated in 2017 as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.

What attracted you to the PM&R residency program here at the University of Utah?

Let me attempt to explain in a haiku:

I came for the snow

And mountains and people, oh

The complete package

It's so hard to find the words to describe this amazing place. Honestly, I was first attracted to the location, having skied in Utah for years. Late in my third year of medical school I identified Utah as a program that had everything I was looking for in a residency  (small city, level I trauma center, large public hospital system, affiliated with a VA, easily accessible to the outdoors, a broad based PM&R curriculum, opportunity for research, and a fellowship program in sports medicine). I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do an away rotation here during my fourth year of medical school. I have never met a group of more well adjusted, happy, humble, and intelligent residents as I did during my 2 week visit. They welcomed and taught me like no other group of people or program had done in my short medical career thus far. This experience was characteristic of both residents and attendings. I knew before my 2 weeks were up that this was where I wanted to spend my next 4 years.

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What particular aspects of the program do you think have been most beneficial to you?

If you had asked me at the end of my PGY1 year, I would have said the opportunity to get involved in sports medicine related activities, event coverage, and educational sessions so early on. Although this still holds true, I wasn’t yet aware of the vast body of research and associated mentorship available through faculty in the department. As someone who has always been interested in clinical research yet has never had the resources nor mentorship to break in, I am looking forward to taking full advantage of what our program has to offer.

What is your most memorable experience during your residency?

Skiing in my scrubs on a powder day after a night shift in the STICU. It was amazing. Where else can you do this? 

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Do you have a mentor? If so, who is it? And how has this person helped you?

Dr. Colby Hansen is my official faculty mentor. He keeps me pointed in the right direction and makes sure that I have access to all of the resources that I need, both now and looking forward. We are fortunate to have many faculty members who are greatly invested in our success and always willing to help. Dr. Willick has been instrumental in providing research opportunities, education, and guidance as I am planning to pursue a career in sports medicine. 

What is your favorite activity outside of work?

If it's not quite obvious, anything that involves sliding around on 2 skinny sticks in the snow. But just as much, if not more, do I love rolling around on 2 skinny wheels. Being outside and moving fast keeps me grounded, sane, and happy. I love my family, too, and spending time with them makes me equally as happy.

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What is your most memorable experience outside of work?

Gosh, that's so hard. There are so many. People used to call me "the steel trap." My brain was a repository of memorable moments and scenes. Medical school sort of closed that part of my brain down temporarily, but it's starting to come back.

I vividly remember the phone call telling me that I had been accepted to medical school. I was driving south on the New York State Thruway, somewhere between Kingston and Poughkeepsie. I was so happy, I was crying.

Since moving to Utah, I remember each and every amazing powder day at Alta (and Snowbird), and the friends (including my co-residents) with whom each was shared. Lap, upon lap, upon lap of sweating it out on the hikes only to be rewarded with soft turns, face shots, belly laughs, and shouts of joy.

And of course, every laugh shared with my co-residents goes into the memory bank and makes the heart full. Whether it be during didactics, interview dinners, social events, back yard BBQs, Tom & Jerry's parties, wellness dinners, or even sitting in the resident work room....these people make me laugh, sometimes to the point of tears.

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Cole Cheney, MD

Where are you from and where did you go to medical school?

West Des Moines, Iowa. Attended undergraduate and medical school at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

What attracted you to the PM&R residency program here at the University of Utah?

I'll repeat what I said on the PM&R webpage: I was interested in a PM&R program that offered a diversity of practice settings and sub-specialties, an affiliation with a great hospital, a large and respected physiatry faculty, and a vision of the field’s future that aligns with mine. I also wanted to work with people who love their field, their location, and their community. With these criteria in mind, Utah could not have been a better choice.

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What particular aspects of the program do you think have been most beneficial to you?

The people and places.

The people: I have supportive senior residents, a reliable PGY-2 class, and brilliant faculty. My patients are fantastic and my support staff is outstanding. Every day I'm showered with knowledge and support.

Also the places: The ultrasound, EMG and fluoroscopy suite where I'm trained to perform procedures. The Olympic Park where I've provided medical coverage for International Bobsled, Junior International Luge, and Youth Climbing. The Veteran's Health Administration, Primary Children's Hospital, University of Utah Hospitals, and Salt Lake Regional Hospital, where I've trained on a breadth of EMRs, practice styles and case loads.

What is your most memorable experience during your residency?

I admitted and discharged a young spinal cord injury patient over a 2-month period. Early in his course he was medically and psychologically challenging. He pushed every member of the rehabilitation team to think deeply and creatively about solutions to his medical and functional barriers. Our team found inspiration and camaraderie under the pressures he presented. By the time of discharge, he was the most beloved patient on the unit and he was thriving. My front-row seat to that journey was invaluable. 

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Do you have a mentor? If so, who is it? And how has this person helped you?

Dr. Speckman. We share an interest in amputee care and prosthetics. She is generous with her time, readily volunteering lessons in biostatistics, epidemiology, and amputee care. She helped me submit research that was accepted to our academy. The program is supporting my trip to Puerto Rico to present.

What is your favorite activity outside of work?

Camping the Tetons / Bryce / Moab / Arches, skiing the Cottonwoods, hiking the Uintas, and playing basketball when the weather is bad. 

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What is your most memorable experience outside of work?

My wife and I got married in a "destination" Utah wedding this year ("destination" to our families). My family and friends had never been here and loved it. One co-resident made my wedding cake, one did a dance tutorial, and three others helped me celebrate in full force.

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Taylor Burnham, DO

Where are you from and where did you go to medical school?

I’m from Alberta, Canada. I attended A.T Still School of Osteopathic Medicine based in Mesa, AZ. It has 10 small satellite campuses across the country to which students are sent for the last 3 years of medical school. My satellite campus was on Oahu, Hawaii. Yeah, it was pretty rough but someone had to do it. 

What attracted you to the PM&R residency program here at the University of Utah?

My wife is pretty awesome and she’s from Utah. When looking at residencies, Utah was definitely a very attractive option since it would get my wife and kids near her family and it had a lot of amazing outdoor activities. I came here as a fourth year medical student and absolutely loved it. The residents were genuinely happy and the attending were extremely knowledgeable and approachable. That coupled with the mountains made it feel like home very quickly.

What particular aspects of the program do you think have been most beneficial to you?

In-depth exposure to the subspecialties with a strong mentorship in clinical knowledge and research. 

What is your most memorable experience during your residency?

Umm…. I know I should probably say something academic and professional but I think my favorite day of residency was our resident’s retreat to Alta to try Dr. Rosenbluth’s, who is our SCI attending, adaptive skis developed for patients with spinal cord injuries. The adaptive skis were amazing and watching Keith Cummings, a co-resident, crash was pretty amazing. 

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Do you have a mentor? If so, who is it? And how has this person helped you?

Yep, I’ve got couple.

Assigned Mentor:

Dr. Alan Davis. He keeps me grounded, well, and helps me remember why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Other mentor:

Dr. Zach McCormick. He is one of the nicest and smartest people I’ve ever met. I’ve got an interest in research. Dr. Flis, one of the inpatient attendings, reached out to Dr. McCormick who was a new hire. Dr. McCormick and I met for lunch and he took a genuine interest in my desire to become a better researcher. He has taught me so much about quality research and I’ve had the opportunity to have been apart of many published peer reviewed projects. 

What is your favorite activity outside of work?

I love spending time with my beautiful wife and 3 awesome kids. 

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What is your most memorable experience outside of work?

We took a family trip to California this year. Watching my kids play in the ocean again was pretty amazing. Some of my other favorite experiences were to teaching my wife and kids how to ski, camping in Moab, and a road trip to British Columbia, Canada.

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Welcome From Our Residency Director

Pamela Hansen

Pam Hansen, MD

Read More

Associate Program Director

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Bradeigh Godfrey, DO

Associate Program Director

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Ali Flis, MD

CONTACT US

Adriana Garcia

Residency Program Manager
University of Utah Hospital
85 N Medical Drive, 2122
Salt Lake City, UT 84132


Telephone: 801-585-2589
Email: adriana.garcia@hsc.utah.edu 
Fax: 801-587-5757