Alumni Spotlight

Sarah Bashaw, MD ’15

Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, Pennsylvania

Specialty: Surgery

Hometown: Brownsville, Vermont

Sarah Bashaw, MD, a third-year surgical resident at Geisinger Medical Center (GMC) in Danville, said there was one thing for which she was eminently prepared on day one of the program. As a 2015 graduate of Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, she said her medical education laid a solid foundation in professional identity formation and it gave her a tremendous boost in residency. “I had a leg up on figuring out how to be a professional,” she said. “One of the most valuable lessons I learned at Geisinger Commonwealth was that I’d spend a long time training – during all the young years of my life – and that I couldn’t look at it as a pause. It’s not a pause. This is real life and you have to keep living it.”

This simple but powerful insight, coupled with time-management skills Dr. Bashaw attributes to Geisinger Commonwealth’s longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC), resulted in her being named “intern of the year” at the end of her initial year in residency. She has also won an award for professionalism.

Her experiences in residency have been, she said, “wonderful so far.” She has grown close to her fellow residents and has high praise for the surgeons teaching her. “The surgical attendings teach because they love it and that’s apparent,” she said. “They are very invested in making us great surgeons, but they also look out for us and try to create a family atmosphere. The faculty is committed to us all the time.” In this way, she said, her experiences at GMC mirror those she had at Geisinger Commonwealth. For this reason, she said, she was “thrilled” at the integration of medical school and health system.

As for her future, Dr. Bashaw said she is entirely open to staying in the region. She and her fiancé have a home in Bloomsburg and the Vermont native said that, in addition to her career in surgery, she hopes to eventually teach medical students or residents. She’s already begun honing her teaching skills. The newest cohort of surgical interns has just arrived at GMC and she’s been chosen to mentor 2017 Geisinger Commonwealth graduate, Dr. Joshua Cole. “Surgery has a reputation for being hard on residents. Our program director is wonderful, inspiring – so I haven’t had that experience,” she said. “I’m happy now to have the chance to return the favor.”

The New Yorker magazine’s April 3, 2017 cover featured artwork by Malika Favre entitled, “The Operating Theatre.” About her inspiration for the cover, the artist said, “I tried to capture that feeling of people watching you lose consciousness.” The cover sparked a worldwide social media phenomenon for a reason the artist never intended – the entire surgical team depicted was female. Women surgeons began staging photos of themselves in the cover pose and posting them online with the hashtag #ILookLikeASurgeon. Here is the photo Dr. Bashaw (top right, with glasses) and her GMC colleagues posted. Dr. Bashaw said that as a female surgeon she’s subject to a wide range of patient reactions, from praise to suspicion. Her favorite? When there’s no reaction at all.