Anna-Maria South, M.D., a 2016 graduate of the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, has been recognized with the outstanding intern teacher award from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine.
“Anna-Maria has been an amazing addition to our program from day one,” said Kristy Deep, M.D., program director of the University of Kentucky Internal Medicine Residency Program. “The comments from the medical students regarding her teaching abilities were nothing short of outstanding, and all were requesting to work with her again. She is a wonderful addition to our program.”
Surprised, South was honored to be selected. “I was very touched,” said South, who completed her first year of the internal medicine residency program. “It’s nice to be recognized like that.”
As an internal medicine resident, South sees patients at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, the Lexington Veterans Affairs Medical Center and other rural hospitals in Kentucky. Her day usually begins at 6 or 7 a.m., depending on the rotation. But she arrives 30 minutes early to read up on patients and discuss cases with the doctors signing out from the night shift.
Throughout the day, she works as part of a team, which includes one senior resident, two interns and a few medical students. She focuses on patient care, learning and teaching medical students.
“Interns are in the trenches, focusing on patient care,” she said. “We make some decisions. We write notes, orders, discharge summaries and prescriptions.”
To teach her medical students, she selects a patient that will provide a good learning opportunity for them. She asks her students to present to her before rounds. She asks them questions, helping them prepare for what the attending physician might ask them.
“I help them broaden their diagnosis,” South said. “One of my favorite interns that I worked with as a medical student at Wright State taught me in that manner.”
South prepares her medical students for the series of questions an attending physician asks medical students about a patient’s symptoms or diagnosis. She encourages the medical students on her team to learn more about the patient’s previous diagnosis. The medical students then share what they have learned with the team.
She enjoys working with her team. “They push me,” she said. “I am constantly learning and thinking. The attending physicians are great. They are amazing teachers.”
South is excited about beginning the second year of her residency.
“Teamwork is very valued here. I love working in a team,” she said. “You have to work hard, and you have to read. Every team member has a unique strength. Everyone can learn something from the other members.”
South credits the Boonshoft School of Medicine with setting her up for success.
“The spirit of Boonshoft School of Medicine is unique. It has prepared me well for residency,” she said. “The Boonshoft School of Medicine has amazing mentors who helped me, especially when I had to make a decision about which specialty to enter.”
One of those mentors is Karen Kirkham, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine and geriatrics at the Boonshoft School of Medicine. “Dr. Kirkham sat with me for hours in a café as we determined what was important to me in my career,” South said.
Kirkham was thrilled that South had been recognized with an award.
“Anna-Maria is remarkably passionate about finding ways to address the unique medical and psycho-social needs of her patients. She has an approachable, down-to earth interpersonal style that engages those around her,” Kirkham said. “When you work with her, you feel energized and equally committed to the work of the team. Her humble work ethic is inspiring.”
Originally from Germany, South came to the United States after meeting her husband, Zeb South, when he was stationed with the U.S. Army in Germany.
“I always wanted to become a doctor. My husband knew I wanted to go to medical school,” said South, who earned an associate degree in science from Columbus State Community College and then transferred to Ohio State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology. “He said he would do whatever it takes to help me get to medical school. He is very supportive. He is the best.”
She will graduate from the residency program in June 2019. She is considering becoming a hospitalist, but she also might explore subspecialties in geriatrics, palliative care and endocrine care.