Dr. Sturchler is a double board-certified palliative care and emergency physician who is an immigrant and first-generation college graduate and achieved her calling as a physician on a nontraditional pathway. An experienced former educator, she earned master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics education and educational leadership, respectively, while teaching full-time. Her doctoral dissertation addressed the gender gap in STEM fields and rekindled her desire to become a physician. A previously avid runner and cyclist, Maria was a 3-time Ironman competitor; these days in her spare time, she enjoys hiking and biking with her husband and children. Her passions include mentoring pre-health studies students, empowering women in leadership/STEM/medicine, and improving access to healthcare in marginalized communities.
Maria shares her journey from being a teacher, a path she chose after an unfortunate incident in which a math professor discouraged her from attending medical school. She ultimately went to medical school and shares how this early setback strengthened her commitment to the medical field and spurred her to advocate for women to pursue their dreams in STEM fields.
Maria finished her emergency medicine residency at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. She shares her experience as a resident, being pregnant, and ultimately making tough choices to protect her health and her family. She shares how this experience forced her to clarify her values and led her to pursue a palliative care fellowship.
Andrea and Maria discuss changing how we think about being emergency physicians. Maria discusses feeling "survivor's guilt," leaving traditional emergency medicine. Andrea suggests that emergency medicine residency is more about a mindset/way of thinking and that we should embrace being an emergency physician life-long, regardless of our specific practice environment. To learn more about this philosophy, check out Andrea's blog.
Maria shares Scripps hospital's innovative palliative medicine embedded in the emergency department. As a palliative medicine/EM-boarded physician, she is particularly well suited to work in the emergency department to provide palliative care consults. It's a win-win-win for the patients, the EM physicians, and the palliative care team. To learn more about this program, check out this article. To learn more about the Palliative Care fellowship, click here.
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