Resident Roundup: Ashley Dougherty, M.D.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Ashley Dougherty, M.D.
Ashley Dougherty, M.D.

As the end of residency draws near, I am experiencing a mixture of anxiety and excitement. It seems like it has been decades since my own intern orientation and struggle to learn how to use the electronic medical record, on top of learning how to manage my patients’ acute and chronic conditions. Although there is still much to learn, watching our newest interns’ introductions to clinical life reminds me how far I have come in just two short years.

Linh Nguyen, Ashley Doughtery, and Karen ScherrIt has taken a village to survive residency. Of course, there are our attendings and preceptors who share their knowledge and help prepare us for our futures as clinicians, educators, researchers, and advocates. Possibly more important to our success, however, are the others that surround us on a daily basis. This would include my co-residents. Every class of residents is a little different, as the residency program changes to meet the needs of patients, the local community, and health care system. These people—strangers on the first day of residency—will forever be the ones I turn to first for answers to unusual lab results, a shoulder to cry on after a bad outcome, and to share personal triumphs and exciting news.

I would like to think that upon graduation, the Duke Family Medicine Residency Program will be a better place than it was three years prior. During our time at Duke, we expanded our obstetrics coverage, created a new inpatient service to allow for better continuity of care, and increased our days in clinic to make sure residents were fully prepared for the challenges of life as a full-time outpatient provider.

Karen Scherr, Katherine Lee, Linh Nguyen, Roosevelt CampbellThroughout the past few years there have been many a trip to Pelicans, Locopops or MilkLab (Drs. Nguyen and Lee’s personal favorite), game nights, and runs around Duke’s East Campus. COVID-19 changed how these much-needed bonding sessions looked—now with masks and mostly outside—but we persevered and are slowly but surely making it to the other side. We rallied around our peers who were on some of our harder rotations, always answering the phone to lend an ear for a commute therapy session, dropping off meals for families of residents that wouldn't be home in time to help cook, and covering patient messages so that our primary patients always had a provider available. 

But I think most of my co-residents would agree when I say that all of us could not have gotten to this point in our lives without our support people, our non-medical family members and friends. This has been even more apparent as we continue to struggle with COVID-19. All of our family members are at a higher risk from contracting the virus from associating with us. Yet, day in and day out, they show up for us. Whether it’s my husband serving as primary caretaker of the dog and making sure we had at least one semi-nutritious meal a day or Dr. Scherr’s husband baking something delicious to share with all the residents, we have all been consistently surrounded by people who make the hard days just a little more bearable.

After graduation we will move on to our own outpatient clinics and community hospitals, taking our hard-earned procedural knowledge and technical skills to new patients. Once our schedules settle out and we learn the new flow of our schedules, we will look back fondly on the memories of the night shifts, 24-hour call days, and off-service rotations and will remember to thank all the people who made it possible for us to get to this point.

Ashley Dougherty is a third-year resident with the Duke Family Medicine Residency Program. Email with questions.
Editor’s note: Duke Family Medicine residents guest blog every month. Blogs represent the opinion of the author, not the Duke Family Medicine Residency Program, the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, or Duke University.
Photos taken prior to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.