Today, I had the great pleasure of talking to Dr. Andrea Tooley. She is a fellow in ophthalmic plastic surgery in New York City. She is active on Instagram with the handle @dr.andreatooley. We were able to talk about how she got interested in ophthalmology, her struggles in medical school, and how she was able to use YouTube, Instagram, and other social media outlets in her professional life as an advocate for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Something cool that I learned about Dr. Tooley on the podcast was that she earned her pilot’s license at age 16, and was exposed to ophthalmology through a trip in her senior year with Orbis International, a foundation which flies to underserved nations and carries out eye surgeries on planes.
As she progressed through her education, she was able to find a routine in medical school and hit the ground running as she knew that she wanted to specialize in ophthalmology from the get go.
Finding a Mentor
Throughout her journey, Dr. Tooley found a mentor who was willing to help her focus her passion through doing research while in medical school, and this led to other opportunities which helped her stand out. I also asked her about how she was able to study for USMLE STEP 1 while managing other projects on the side.
She was able to find time by being very active when she learned; she couldn’t just re-read and highlight the books that she had to study with. Also, by writing information on the whiteboard was another method she used to get through a lot of facts in a small amount of time.
Holding Doctors To a Standard
Some bad recommendations that Dr. Tooley hears in the wards is that people give too much resources to study. If you are pulled in too many directions, then you are not able to focus when you are studying. Also, if you try and act like any one else, then you will not succeed – being yourself is more important than living someone else’s life.
Also, getting over challenges is more about introspection and reaching out to the support systems that you have (your family and friends) rather than a specific routine. Each challenge brings adversity, and Dr. Tooley is no stranger to that fact.