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Ashley Mathews Askew

Ashley Matthwe AskewK-State graduation year: May 2005
Degree: BS Nutritional Sciences
Other degree received: Medical Degree – University of Kansas – May 2009. Completed residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics – University of Missouri-Kansas City and Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas City – June 2013
Current Employer:  Baptist Medical Group, Navarre, FL
Position:  Physician in MedPeds clinical practice

How many times, if any, did you change your major during college?

Once, from Biology to Nutrition.

Describe the process of choosing your major.

The courses required for the nutrition degree were great preparation for medical school course work.

What activities/organizations were you involved in while in college?
  • Alpha Chi Omega sorority
  • Alpha Epsilon Delta
  • Human Ecology Leadership Program
  • Human Ecology Honors Program
  • Student Health Advisory Committee
  • Human Body Cadaver Team
  • Human Body Student Practicum
  • Worked in Lafene Department of Health Promotion and Nutritional Counseling
  • Worked in the University Counseling Services office
Did you complete an internship or have related work experience prior to receiving your job?

During college, I shadowed a variety of physicians.  Some experiences were short, but one shadowing experience involved following a physician on a daily basis during a summer break.  I also worked in Lafene Department of Health Promotion and Nutrition Counseling and University Counseling Services.  I did an internship at the American Dietetic Association (now The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) in Chicago, IL.  I assisted with various research projects, grant writing, and development of evidenced-based dietetic protocols.  I also co-authored an editorial article about Physician Nutrition Specialist.

Describe the process of finding your first job.

Choosing a medical school was a straight forward process.  I applied to a handful of schools and was fortunate to have a relatively early interview with University of Kansas and accepted soon after.  University of Kansas was more affordable being an in-state school.  I also knew numerous people who were attending University of Kansas and it was near my family.

Choosing a residency was a more involved process.  I recall that there were approximately 80 programs across the country for my specialty.  Given the multitude of options, it was important to make a list of priorities to help narrow down the list.  Some factors to consider are cost of living, proximity to family, geographic location, the personality of the residents and faculty that you meet, and local recreational activities.  All residency programs offer a standard education, but it is important to consider what is unique about each program and how it will influence training and career choice.  Medical school staff closely advise students on their residency application and selection process.

After residency, I spent one year serving as a Chief Resident for my Internal Medicine program.  This was a faculty position that allowed me to gain experience teaching medical students and residents, working with the residency program leadership, and working with hospital administration.  It was a great opportunity to help further my leadership development and further refine my career goals.

For my first job after chief residency, I focused my job search based on geographic locations where I was interested in living and working.  I initially talked with prospective employers on the telephone to gauge my fit with their organization.  I made initial visits to job sites followed by a second visit to my top choice.  This was followed by reviewing a contract, negotiating with the employer, and finally signing the contract.  The expenses associated with my job interviews were paid by the potential employers.  The interview process was enjoyable and low stress.  Interviews were usually about 2 days in duration.  Total time spent looking for a job was spread out over approximately two years.

Briefly describe a typical day at your job.

As a resident, the daily schedule changes depending on the rotation.  In-patient rotations typically require longer hours averaging about 60-80 hours per week including on-call requirements.  Outpatient rotations are generally lighter averaging less than 60 hours per week including on-call requirements.  On-call requirements vary by frequency and duration at each program.  There are opportunities for electives, international rotations, and research rotations.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy being a primary care physician because I can establish long-term relationships with my patients.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

Finding balance between my professional and personal lives.  The medical field is demanding and requires constant learning and responsibility for patient care.  It is easy for work to consume most of the day.  Nonetheless, it is important to reserve time for family, friends, and personal interests.  I think the other major challenge is staying up-to-date within my specialties as things are constantly changing.

What advice would you give someone interested in your field?
  • While in college, obtain shadowing experience with a physician. 
  • Consider working in a medical venue for additional experience. 
  • Study hard, but don’t forget to enjoy life a little too. 
  • Don’t over-commit.  Only join those organizations and activities to which you can devote sufficient time to and play an integral role.
  • Consider the cost associated with attending medical school.  It is a long-term financial commitment much like buying a house.  Many physicians earn a salary that allows them to live comfortably and repay their student loan debt.  However, the amount of debt can be overwhelming for some.  Look for opportunities to learn more about managing student loan debt and making good financial decisions.
  • Take care of yourself – sleep, eat healthy, and exercise regularly.
  • Make time for your relationships with friends and family despite a busy schedule.
  • Find a mentor. 
  • Most of all, just never give up.  Completing medical training is a long process.  Persistence and determination are essential.
What were the major lifestyle changes your first year out of college that made the transition hard from college to the world of work and how did you adapt?

The transition from college to medical school was challenging from a time management perspective.  The course work in medical school moves along more quickly than in college.  Cramming for tests and pulling all-night study sessions is not advisable.  It is important to develop good test-taking skills in college and medical school as physicians have to take numerous exams during their career.  Take advantage of learning resources that are offered at medical schools that help enhance test taking skills.  Each transition in my medical career has brought about an increased number of responsibilities.  It has been important to adapt with each of these transitions and develop the time management and organizational skills necessary to meet the demands.  Finding physician mentors who can provide advice and seeking feedback from colleagues are important ways to develop these skills.  Residency is a wonderful learning experience full of feedback about everything from patient care, medical knowledge, and personal and professional development which helps to prepare physicians for the transition to being an independently practicing physician.  As I am just starting out in my clinical practice, I am learning many new things and adapting to new demands and challenges.  Overall, it is exciting and rewarding to constantly be learning and growing as a professional.

What was the one thing you did in college that has had the most impact on your life or career?

During high school and college, I was involved in numerous activities that focused on leadership development.  I was able to attend conferences and workshops where I learned about leadership, team dynamics, conflict resolution, and interview skills among other things.  Doctors work on multidisciplinary teams in most settings, so having leadership training is valuable for leading and being a member of these teams.

Was there a specific class you remember that sparked your interest in your career direction?

The Human Body course and Cadaver Team.

Was there a specific person in college who had a significant impact on your life or career?

Dr. Carol Ann Holcomb and Dr. Carol Kellett, both faculty of the College of Human Ecology, and K-state alumni Carolyn Jackson were all important mentors to me during my college experience.  Dr. Holcomb spent time assisting me with academic projects, advising me on my preparation for medical school, identifying leadership and scholarship activities for me, and just generally being a strong source of encouragement and support.  Dr. Kellett was instrumental in starting the College of Human Ecology Leadership Program.  Through this program I and other students were able to attend the Washington DC Leadership Bootcamp lead by Carolyn Jackson.  The mentoring and encouragement from these woman was invaluable.  I am so thankful for all of the opportunities that they helped create for me during my time at K-State.