Resident Spotlight: Megumi Sugita, DO

By William Alexander

Megumi Sugita, DO, was first drawn to the brain during her neuroanatomy class, when she learned about the many intricate functions performed by the mammalian brain. Now, as a Junior Assistant (PGY-2) Resident within the Duke Neurology Department, Sugita is getting firsthand experience interacting with patients with stroke, brain tumors, and other conditions within Duke University Hospital. For this week’s Spotlight interview, Sugita talks to us about her PGY-2 year so far and her plans for a neuro-immunology fellowship after her residency. She also talks about learning with (and learning from) her fellow residents during rounds and shares her loves of watching and performing dance when she’s not at Duke.

What are your current responsibilities as a Junior Assistant (PGY-2) resident? What does a typical workday look like for you?

As a PGY-2 resident, we rotate on several inpatient services including general neurology, stroke, and consults. A typical workday on an inpatient service would be 7 a.m to 5 p.m. (often staying a little later to finish notes or wrap up patient care). We have sign out at 7 p.m. to hand off patients to the night team covering from 7 p.m-7 a.m.  Although the volume of consults can be overwhelming, I enjoy working through interesting cases and learning from each patient interaction!

We have a few “golden weekends” a month, where we have 2 days off! Most weekends, we cover 24 hours or 12 hours of the inpatient services. We also have plenty of elective time during our PGY-2 year. We spend our outpatient time either at South Durham, Morreene Road. or clinics at 1L. Clinic responsibilities can vary, but a typical outpatient workday is from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and seeing anywhere between 10-15 patients.

How and when did you first get interested in neurology? What disciplines or parts of neurology interest you the most?

I first became interested in neuroanatomy when studying the brain of different animals. I remember dissecting the brain of a sheep and was fascinated with how a bland appearing organ can form intricate connections and control the entire body. Since then, I have loved learning and teaching neuroanatomy. I enjoy all disciplines of neurology including general neurology, neuro-oncology, neuroradiology, and neuro-ophthalmology. My second year has also been exciting since we learn how to run a stroke code and how to read EEGs.

What plans (if any) do you have for after your residency? If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

I am planning to apply for a neuroimmunology fellowship next year. I love being part of a community that works closely with patients to form a lasting relationship. I can honestly say, I have my dream job right now and can’t wait to keep building my career.

What’s one experience from your residency so far that’s stood out as particularly memorable or helpful for you?

I did not expect everyone to be so willing to teach! I can learn something new from other residents during morning report or discuss with my attending something that I looked up during rounds. We also work closely with medical students, which makes teaching so much fun. Medicine is constantly evolving, and it is helpful to be surrounded by individuals who value medical education and challenge you in the best way.

What other passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?

Living in North Carolina, I spend weekends discovering new trails and greenways. I love taking my dog, Boba, to the dog park, knitting with my friends, playing tennis and discovering new food. I also really enjoy hanging out with my husband and co-residents. I currently take dance classes on 9th street and watch Broadway at the DPAC. I am trying to get into gardening to grow my own fruits and veggies.

Sugita Hanging Rock
Sugita shared this photo of herself and her dog Boba during a visit to Hanging Rock State Park in Danbury, NC.