In the life of a medical student, time is rare and stress abundant. Kyra Bernstein knows this perhaps better than anyone. In addition to her studies, she shares responsibility for two children—4-year-old Nelly and 1-year-old Jonah—with her husband, Dov Sebrow, a second-year ophthalmology resident at Columbia. Though the New York City native is what she calls “geographically bound”—she applied to residency programs solely in the Northeast—she has a lot of freedom in her chosen specialty, anesthesiology.
“Anesthesiology lets you keep a broad scope,” Ms. Bernstein says. Having found she enjoyed all her rotations, she didn’t want to pursue a specialty that was too narrow or restrictive. She chose a field that intersects with other medical disciplines but uses a clear set of skills and makes contributions. “Pediatrics, obstetrics, general OR, neurosurgery: With anesthesiology, you have a lot of intellectual freedom, but with defined, hands-on, day-to-day responsibility.”
Ms. Bernstein found appealing the way an anesthesiologist can see his or her contribution. “When I came into medical school, I knew I wanted to help people and save lives,” she says. “I know when I come into work, if I insert an IV that keeps someone alive or pain-free, I did something to help.”
She benefited from the support and wisdom of two doctors. One was her mentor, George Gallos, MD, assistant professor of anesthesiology, with whom she spent five months—including one of her vacation months—conducting research on the chloride channel and its role in pre-term labor. The other influence was her husband, who was two years ahead in medical school. “He was very supportive, and never pushed me into anything,” she says. “At the end of the day, I could come to him with questions, and he gave valuable advice that enriched both my marriage and my professional evolution.”
In the 2014 residency match, she was accepted into the Columbia Apgar Scholars Program, a six-year track in anesthesiology.