Erica Tabakin: Interview With The Right Fit HIPster Award Winner

The 2016 Right Fit HIPster Awards is a collaboration between Medelita and FemInEM with the purpose of celebrating and rewarding women EM residents who have identified a problem facing physicians, patients, or their community, and who have done something about it. With over 45 submissions from highly qualified applicants, our judges selected the top five winners who we felt most strongly have embodied this goal.

This week, we sat down and spoke with winner Erica Tabakin, MD, who has been recognized for her quality improvement project focused on provider communication behavior and the patient experience.

Name: Erica Tabakin

Age: 28

Residency program: Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Medical school: Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Passion project: Quality improvement & patient satisfaction

Favorite movie or TV show: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Favorite or current book: This Won’t Hurt A Bit (And Other White Lies): My Education In Medicine And Motherhood by Michelle Au

Favorite hobbies: Baking, spending time with friends and family.

Now for the real questions....

What would you have been if you weren’t going to be a doctor?

I was always wanted to be a doctor from a young age, but if I couldn’t practice medicine I would have liked to open my own cupcake shop or a bakery.

Best advice for people considering a career in medicine:

My best advice to someone who is thinking of working in medicine would be to really make sure that you’re 100% dedicated to this career because it’s a long and hard road.

Best words of advice you’ve received:

Have persistence. Never give up.” These are simple but strong ideals that I was raised with and taught to me by my parents throughout my life.

Most inspiring role model in your medical career:

My mom isn’t a physician, but she’s a great role model. She has gone through years schooling and made it a priority to always put her education first. During my life, she has instilled the same values in me and taught me to make my education and career a priority. I’m not sure if I would have gotten to where I am today without these ideals.

What is the most important skill you’ve developed on your path to becoming a doctor?


What do you love most about what you do?

I love that you never know what you are going to encounter when you start a shift in the ED.  Furthermore, it’s a gift to be able help patients and their families in their most dire situations and times of need.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve seen for women in healthcare?

From what I’ve witnessed, it’s often challenging for women to manage their career and family life.  

Are there any challenges that you think are particular for EM?

Shift work is both a blessing and a curse. Typically there is flexibility with shift scheduling but since emergency medicine is a 24/7 business there are always nights, weekends and holiday shifts.

What is the biggest challenge for healthcare system today?

Less emphasis on preventative/primary care and difficulty with follow up.

What do you plan on doing with your $500 award?

I’ll probably put it toward my student loans!

How do you try to convey a professional appearance at work? 

I try to wear scrubs that fit; however, it’s tough finding scrubs that are made for women. I can’t wait to try my new Medelita scrubs and white coat!