Practice makes perfect: TMC’s Clinical Learning Center helps train tomorrow’s doctors

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Dr. Katrina McGuire TMC Resident

Dr. Katrina McGuire
TMC Resident

During the five years Katrina McGuire worked as a Physician’s Assistant, she had a gut feeling she was destined to do more.  “I absolutely loved being a PA, but I always had the desire to go to med school.  I finally decided to pursue it with the encouragement of my family, good friends and some physicians I had worked with.”  Her husband’s military career brought them to Tucson where she finally decided to go for it.  McGuire was accepted to the University of Arizona College of Medicine and graduated this past May.

The aspiring anesthesiologist secured one of a dozen coveted spots in TMC’s transitional intern program.  “I’m drawn to anesthesia because I really enjoy manipulating physiology on a moment to moment basis.  There is a lot of critical care involved with anesthesia.  I’m also attracted to the team environment in the operating room and look forward to working with the surgeons and nurses.”  About half of the group plans to go into anesthesia.  The others will sub-specialize in radiology, dermatology, ophthalmology, or radiation oncology.

These brand new docs are preparing for the upcoming year they’ll spend at TMC as a resident.  The first step in their graduate medical training is hands-on experience in a lab setting that’s as close to the real thing as they can get.  “TMC-U uses a state-of-the-art clinical learning center to help these residents refresh some of the skills they learned in med school, but maybe haven’t had an opportunity to use in the past six months or so,” explained program director Dr. Tyler Kent.  “It’s also a chance for these doctors to demonstrate their competency in the various skills.  TMC’s experienced nursing staff participates in this education session that we hold on the first day of the program.”

These nurses headed up different stations the docs rotated through.  The doctors reviewed suturing, how to insert peripheral IV’s, Foley catheters and nasogastric tubes, intubation, and even had to resuscitate a high fidelity mannequin who was simulating a patient in cardiac arrest.  “It’s always helpful to learn from nurses because they have a different perspective and they do a lot of these procedures on a daily basis.  Getting tips from them about how to make things easier or how to think something through is extremely valuable,” said Dr. McGuire.

Over the next twelve months, these doctors will spend time in the medical/surgical unit, intensive care unit, emergency department, surgery, cardiology, and the field they plan to go into.

For Dr. Kent, the interpersonal skills these doctors possess are as critical as their clinical knowledge.  “We try to instill in these residents the importance of being professional and using solid communication skills.  It’s not just about disease and how to treat it.  They need to know they can’t be a cold fish or be too lighthearted when dealing with patients.  Patients are sick.  They don’t want to be in the hospital.  They need things explained to them, and they need to be respected.  We train these doctors to provide comprehensive care to every patient they see.”

Once their TMC internship wraps up next June, these doctors have three to five more years of training ahead of them as they sub-specialize in their respective fields.


  1. Being a proud TMC employee (med.transcriptionist) for last 20 years, thank you for sharing story of how our residency program works. I often transcribe reports done by residents, but have not known their work/physical side.

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