Xavier Gaeta, PGY-1
Where you are from: I grew up in the Bay Area of California, received my BS at Stanford University, and have lived in Los Angeles since 2010 while I pursued my MSTP training (MD-PhD) at UCLA
What are your interests are in residency/career/future (ideal job, fellowship, research or other): Likely academic subspecialty pediatrics, with combined research and clinical practice. My overarching research interests include stem cell biology, and taking the lessons of developmental biology and applying them to regenerative medicine.
Why you chose UCLA: Since I attended UCLA for my medical school and graduate school training, I had a good sense of the university's academic environment. Everything is located on the same campus, so the university's high quality basic and translational research are well-integrated between the clinical and non-clinical departments. But despite my experiences, I was still impressed by the warmth of the program leadership, and the strength and dedication of the residents I worked with. I love that working at UCLA means serving a hugely diverse group of kids from all over the most populous county in the USA. In addition, the UCLA Peds program includes training at distinct clinical sites with very different patient populations and complexities of care. We see patients who have visited a doctor every month of their lives, and others who present to care for the first time;
What you love about Los Angeles or life in LA: The sheer scale of LA, both geographically and in terms of possibilities, can be difficult to grasp. There is a dizzying array of things to do, places to explore, and communities to engage with. I end up overstuffing my days off with museums, concerts, runs, hikes, and maybe the occasional premiere! LA also has a truly incredible, dynamic food scene in which countless cultures represented at a breadth of price points.
What you might want an interested resident to know or advice (or a fun fact about yourself): It's easy to justify working hard to take care of kids - make sure you find a training environment that lets you use your precious downtime to care for yourself.
Esther Jun, PGY-3
Where you are from: Los Angeles (Palos Verdes), CA
What are your interests in residency/career/future (ideal job, fellowship, research or other): Every week, my future career plans change, but I am pretty confident that I am interested in Hospitalist medicine. I love treating the whole patient from head to toe and also take a lot of pride in setting my patients up for success once they leave the hospital. If I had to pick a subspecialty, I really enjoy pediatric infectious disease. I love the mental challenge of using your antibiotic “toolkit,” and most kids really have amazing recoveries after their infections are correctly treated. My research interest includes inpatient QI projects like improving our discharge planning for our families and how to improve residency quality of life through wellness and education.
Why you chose UCLA: I chose UCLA first and foremost because of the people. Everyone I met at the UCLA program from the program director, residents and our amazing coordinators are so invested in each other’s success. I knew that UCLA was the kind of place I would thrive because there is tremendous support for every level of training through individualized meetings, intern/senior support and the trusty community candy bowl. Another reason I chose UCLA was the multiple sites. From the West LA patient population to our underserved population at Olive View, I definitely feel like we treat the whole scope of pediatric patients in Los Angeles. Also, I thought that learning how to efficiently navigate multiple sites would make me best prepared for any situation after residency.
What you love about Los Angeles or life in LA: What I love the most about life in LA is the diversity of culture…and let me be honest. When I talk about diversity of culture, I mean the diversity in food. I was raised in a Korean-American family, and I am a huge fan of the authentic Korean food in K-town. I also like to keep things interesting with dim sum, shabu shabu, tacos, pupusas, beef noodle soup, and chicken & waffles. The list is really endless. Accessible comfort food is a must.
What you might want an interested resident to know or advice (or a fun fact about yourself): My residency class comes from all walks of life, and our diversity in experiences from growing up eating cheese curd and beer in Wisconsin to surfing along the California Coast is what makes coming to work everyday so exciting. I can honestly tell you that I am never bored working at UCLA. From our patients to our residents/fellows/attendings, everyone has a unique point of view, and I am excited to meet yours!
Christine Thang, Chief Resident
Where you are from: LA born and raised! Specifically, Glendale, CA.
What are your interests are in residency/career/future (ideal job, fellowship, research or other): After deciding on pediatrics, I realize that through one door, there are now many other doors from which to choose! For one, I would like to find a niche within medical education. I think that there is something special about being involved in all levels of training from undergraduate to graduate medical education. Mentorship is one of my priorities. I also have a couple areas of interest such as infectious disease and endocrinology. I could also see myself as an academic general pediatric hospitalist.
Why you chose UCLA: I should preface this by saying that I went to UCLA for my undergraduate and medical school training. With that said, why not UCLA?! I am so grateful to be considered a "triple Bruin." As an institution, UCLA is at the forefront of everything as a premier university and world leader in health and science. To still be here as a pediatrician-in-training means that I get to learn from amazing faculty members and co-residents. It is such a dynamic institution. I love how everything is essentially centralized on one main campus, and yet, UCLA is part of the larger community, and we as residents are able to rotate at a variety of settings. Additionally, as a resident here, you truly feel like a member of a larger family. When I was a medical student on rotation here and sitting with the faculty and residents, I enjoyed the conversations and liveliness of the program and really wanted this camaraderie and support system during residency.
What you love about Los Angeles or life in LA: There is never a dull moment in this city. The weather is always fantastic, and even when it rains, you have people who are excited that it is raining. Whatever you like to do, you can probably find it here in LA. We have beaches on one side, mountains on the other, deserts, forests, you name it, LA has it. I love living in a large busy city where there is never a dull day. We spend a lot of time in the hospital as residents, but when you step outside, there are so many places, people, and events waiting for you too!
What you might want an interested resident to know or advice (or a fun fact about yourself): One thing I quickly realized during the application process is that residency programs are more alike than they are different. People told me to go with my gut and that meant UCLA for me. I knew that here, I would be happy inside and outside of the hospital. During your interviews, take a moment to step back and see if you can picture yourself working at this location with these people. If time permits, explore the city! The fourth year of medical school is so exciting and fun because you essentially spend a couple weeks just meeting new people and seeing new places. Take advantage of it and embrace this time to explore!