For this week’s Resident Spotlight, third-year child neurology resident Anna Bunker, MD talks to us about her responsibilities within the department, her work in Quality Improvement in acute migraine management, spending time with her family, and reading books and articles and listening to podcasts that she finds insightful and thought-provoking.
What are your responsibilities as a third-year Child Neurology Resident? What does a typical day for you look like?
My typical day depends on the rotation and service I am covering. We have 3 inpatient services: the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU), the emergency department and floor consult service, and the ICU consult service. We also work in various outpatient clinics and have our own clinic on Friday afternoons. The junior and senior (chief) pediatric neurology residents have the same patient care responsibilities, but the chief residents have several administrative duties as well, such as scheduling.
What have you enjoyed most about your residency experiences so far? Can you describe one or two moments that were especially memorable?
During my intern year, I felt often that I was pretending to be a doctor. With time, I learned to truly feel like “the doctor” for my patients. This experience has been the best part of residency. I remember recently seeing a patient in clinic whom I cared for in the hospital; he was there to see another provider, but his parents were happy to see me and wanted me to hold their son. I felt privileged to have their trust and favor. In Neurology, we see our patients often for many years, and we form lasting relationships with families. I really enjoy this part of my job.
How and when did you decide to become a pediatric neurologist?
I decided to become a pediatric neurologist during my neurology rotation in medical school. I decided to become a pediatric doctor while I was in high school. When I was growing up, I had experience caring for a family member with chronic illness, and I spent time volunteering with children at my church and in the community. Therefore, by the end of high school, I knew I wanted to care for children. When I had my neurology rotation, I worked with a pediatric neurologist in his clinic. I enjoyed working with his patients and families and learning neuroanatomy and physiology.
Can you tell us about your interest in Quality Improvement? Why do you feel this work is important?
I am involved in a quality improvement (QI) project in acute migraine management in the Duke Pediatric Emergency Department. Our team, which originated with me and my primary mentor, Dr. Liz Rende (DNP, RN, CPNP-PC), now includes students and residents from multiple programs, nurses, and attending physicians in Neurology and Emergency Medicine. Our team has really benefited from the QI expertise of Dr. Emily Sterrett (MD). I have learned so much about QI from the progress of this project. QI is important because it encourages us to utilize effectively the information that we already know is good and helpful for patients.
What are your plans for after you complete your residency?
After I complete residency, I plan to practice general pediatric neurology (not planning to pursue a neurology fellowship). I am trying to decide if I want to stay in academic medicine, or transition to private practice, and I am actively looking at options locally and out of state.
Have you recently read any books, articles, or websites that would be of interest to others in the department?
“Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis” (04/11/2018) is an article from the New York Times that follows Simone Landrum, a woman from New Orleans, as she experiences the pregnancy and birth of a child, following a late term pregnancy loss. It raises issues about the widely differing experiences of pregnancy and birth between women of different races and socioeconomic groups in the United States. “The Vanishing American Adult” (05/16/2017) is a book by Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) that discusses recent changes in the experience of American adolescence. I listened to an interview with the author on a podcast called “Thinking in Public,” hosted by the Rev. Albert Mohler. While very different from the other, I found both pieces insightful and thought-provoking.
What passions or hobbies do you have outside of work?
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family. My husband, Steven, is an electrical engineer and works in Raleigh; we have a 13-month-old son named Ian. We attend First Baptist Church of Durham. We enjoy spending time with our friends. When I have time, I like to scrapbook. Whether I have time or not, I always enjoy a good cup of coffee.