Best on the Shoreline!
It's time to nominate your favorites for the 2021 Best on the Shoreline Awards!
Dr. Listy Thomas, associate professor of medical sciences and assistant dean for simulation at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University, recently earned the American Medical Association’s Inspiration Award. (Photo by Autumn Driscoll )
Ever since she was little, Listy Thomas had two dreams about what she wanted to be when she grew up: a teacher and a doctor. When she was a freshman in high school and took her biology class, she was inspired to focus on her dream of practicing medicine.
“When you go through med school and residency, academics is always in the back of your mind and at one point, I realized I could do both,” says Listy. “When we’re young, teachers are our first role models. I had some amazing teachers and aspired to be like them. When I took 9th-grade biology, I knew I’d be a doctor. I loved learning about the body and decided to prioritize that.”
Listy went to school and completed her residency in New York, but once her residency was completed, she and her family relocated to Trumbull in 2009. Several of Listy’s friends and colleagues were working at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport and recommended that Listy apply. She is now an emergency physician at the hospital.
While Listy always knew she wanted to be a doctor, in med school, she found a passion for emergency medicine. Despite the challenges of being an E.R. doctor, Listy is happy that she is able to provide care to those in need.
“As a high school learner, you know you want to be a doctor, but as you go through med school, you have to figure out what kind of doctor you want to be and I began to see there was not a lot of care for so many people, but the ER is always open and we see everyone regardless of their ability to pay,” says Listy. “I chose emergency medicine because of the accessibility of care it offers to a lot of people and thought it was a great way to serve the community.”
Listy has a medical degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center, an MBA from Quinnipiac, and a bachelor’s degree from New York University, where she was a pre-med student majoring in honors psychology. Throughout her 13 years of schooling on her way to becoming a doctor, her dream of teaching lingered in the back of her head. Listy put the idea on the back burner when her three children were young, choosing to get a job in the community and focus on her family.
“I thought I’d be sacrificing my academic goals to be able to support my family, but around 2010-2011, there were news reports about Quinnipiac University opening a medical school and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of,” says Listy, who is now an associate professor of medical sciences and assistant dean for simulation at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University in North Haven, where she has just entered her eighth academic year.
Listy works with first- and second-year medical students. She notes that something that makes Quinnipiac University’s program unique is that their students begin working with patients during year one, while many other programs focus solely on academics in the early years. Having students learn how to empathetically interact with patients hits close to home for Listy.
“My mother had cancer for 10 years and I’d be with her at doctor appointments and see how some people had no regard for what they said and how it was affecting this person,” says Listy. “I want to change that from beginning by working with first- and second-year students and get them to think about the whole person, what the next steps are, and how this will affect this person’s life. Building more humanism into medicine was a necessary thing after some of my encounters prior to working at the medical school.”
Listy not only enjoys helping students learn these lessons, but interacting with them and seeing them find their path in the medical field. She enjoys teaching and feels that it complements her career as an emergency medicine doctor. She is able to take examples from her cases at work and relay them to her students, while applying new concepts that she is teaching at Quinnipiac to her work in the hospital.
With advances in technology and the challenges presented by COVID-19, Listy, her colleagues, and her students have had to adapt. Quinnipiac is currently operating in a flex model with students taking online group classes, but also receiving one-on-one in-person learning.
“We are constantly doing professional development to learn the best ways to engage students in today’s learning environments, especially this year with the need to learn so much technology around remote learning, teaching them to become doctors while keeping them safe,” says Listy. “There are always new things like telemedicine, which have to be learned and taught at the same time, but how we remain humanistic throughout is our priority.”
COVID not only has affected Listy’s teaching career, but her days in the hospital as well as her personal life. With COVID being so challenging and emotional, on top of the every day stresses of working in the E.R., Listy has seen the impact it has had on the mental health of people, especially front-line workers.
“It’s been quite a ride and in emergency medicine, we’re putting ourselves on the front line, but one of the initiatives we’re trying to move forward with in the E.R. is peer support and being there for each other in a variety of ways,” says Listy. “Sometimes it’s hard to connect with each other because we’re so focused on the patient, but little things go a long way and we try to keep connections going with each other.”
There have been highlights for Listy in 2020, though. Two of her students, Laura Cantu and Nicole McAmis, nominated Listy for the American Medical Association’s Inspiration Awards presented by the AMA Women Physicians Section. The Inspiration Award honors and acknowledges physicians who have offered their time, wisdom, and support throughout the professional careers of fellow physicians, residents, and students.
“I consider it a great privilege to train future generations of physicians through my work at the Netter School of Medicine,” says Listy. “I am truly honored to be nominated for the AMA Inspiration Award by the medical students who I have had the opportunity to teach and engage with on a regular basis. This pandemic year has been a great challenge for all of us, especially those of us on the front lines, and the fact that our students took the extra time to go through this nomination process is a wonderful demonstration of their selflessness and dedication.
“The female students who nominated me are inspirations to me because they’re each amazing in their own way,” says Listy. “ There are so many steps in the process of becoming a doctor, but it’s about how we support and promote each other in this process.”
Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .