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Resident Spotlight: Abigail Berezoski

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Abigail “Abby” Berezoski, MD, one of our newest Senior Assistant (or third-year) Residents, is the subject of this week’s Spotlight interview. Berezoski talks to us about her scariest experience so far during her residency, which involved an unregistered patient experiencing stroke and status epilepticus, as well as a medication shortage. She also discusses  how she chose neurology and decided to focus on vascular neurology in particular, and why she’d be a ballroom dance instructor if she had decided not to pursue medical school.

What are your current responsibilities as a Senior Assistant Resident (SAR)? What does your typical day look like?
The responsibilities vary depending on what rotation I am on. Overall though, in my opinion, SAR year is characterized by a mix of primary call and, for the first time, serving as backup for Junior Residents. I've enjoyed it, because it forced me into a more independent role and pushed me to start to define a bit more of my own style. In addition SAR year is also an opportunity for me to spend some time in outpatient clinics, learning more about Neuromuscular, Epilepsy and Peds Neurology. I have really enjoyed that aspect of this year. As a JAR I interacted with each of those topics frequently, without much of an understanding of what they entail.

How and when did you first get interested in neurology? What area(s) of neurology are you most interested in?
It was after my clinical rotation in neurology, during third year, that I first started to consider it as a specialty. What stood out to me during that rotation, is that the exam absolutely directs your diagnosis and treatment. This was starkly different than most areas of medicine I had interacted with up to that point. As of now, I am most interested in hospital neurology and all that entails.

You recently completed your Junior Assistant Resident year. What’s one experience that stands out as particularly memorable or useful to you?
I had a particularly memorable stroke code that turned into status epilepticus while in the CT scanner, that caused some scary vital derangements. At that time in my career, I knew well the algorithms I needed to address the issue. What I had NOT anticipated were all the barriers to care that arose in that situation.

They say you never want your patients to code in the scanner. But what I discovered is you do not want your patients to require an RRT in the scanner, because you can't call one! Add to that there were no benzodiazepines available, and that the patient was not registered in EPIC because she had been an outpatient—we had quite the scenario! Thankfully the patient ultimately ended up in the NICU and her outcome was fantastic.

But what I learned is that you can never anticipate everything that is going to go wrong, and that problem solving will always be an important part of this job. That code illustrated visible progress in my career as a neurologist and gave me confidence in myself.  

What plans do you have after you complete your residency? If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
As of about a month ago, I finally made the decision to pursue Vascular Neurology. I am not sure yet what my perfect job combination entails (in terms of outpatient vs. inpatient vs. teleneurology). Though I do think, as of now, I find inpatient more enjoyable.

If I could have any job in the world it would be a ballroom dance instructor. I love ballroom dances, specifically the tango and the waltz. But I have not been able to carve out much time for studying or practicing. As an instructor I would have the perfect excuse to spend as much time as I could learning those and other dances.

What other passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?
Outside of work, my time is pretty much full with spending time with my husband (we were recently married on January 6th of 2018), friends, and keeping in touch with my family in Texas. When I have time I really enjoy cooking and reading non medical books. I also enjoy getting involved with our church.   

wedding photo

Berezoski and her husband pose during their wedding in January of this year.