Sarah Yentz, MD
• Ann Arbor native who attended the University of Michigan for both undergrad and medical school
• Planning a career in heme-onc
• Daughter of a teacher, has won numerous teaching awards from her medical students
Tell us a bit about your backgrounds. How did you come to Northwestern?
I was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I stayed in Ann Arbor to complete my undergraduate education in Molecular Biology and Spanish at the University of Michigan then continued my medical education at the University of Michigan Medical School. With that background, it’s hard not to bleed maize and blue! I interviewed at Northwestern about 2/3 into my interview season and it was the first interview I left feeling that I belonged there. My personality fit in well with the current residents and the environment felt like one in which I could thrive. It also didn’t hurt that it was only a 4 hour drive from home (a big deal when you’ve never lived outside Ann Arbor!).
What is your favorite thing about being a physician?
While on the oncology service my intern year, I took care of a 34-year-old lady with esophageal cancer. She presented with difficulty swallowing and was found to have severe stenosis of her esophagus from squamous cell carcinoma. The dysphagia lead to so much weight loss she developed SMA syndrome (compression of the duodenum between the abdominal aorta and superior mesenteric artery due to loss of the abdominal fat pad). Epidemiologically she was a rarity to develop cancer at age 34 and SMA syndrome has been called “one of the rarest gastrointestinal disorders known to medical science”. But even more memorable were the extensive conversations we had to explain what was happening. We talked about what a feeding tube was and if she should have one or not, we discussed the next steps for her chemotherapy and how to manage her pain at home (all while taking care of her 5 year old son). She was the patient that clinched my decision to pursue a career in hematology-oncology.
You have won a number of teaching awards - what’s your secret to teaching success?
As the daughter of an 8th grade English teacher, I hold teachers in extremely high regard and am honored to have won several teaching awards. I have very distinct memories of occasions when interns or residents sat down for mini-teaching sessions with me. I can remember the exact intern who taught me how to write a SOAP note, the resident who taught me how to read EKGs and the attending who taught us about hyperkalemia. These people all had a very positive influence on my education and my decision to go into medicine. Remembering the impact my mentors had on me is what motivates me to take the time teach my students amidst a busy call day or prepare a lesson for them in the evening despite getting home late.
How do you achieve a work-life balance as a busy resident?
There is always time for “life things” if you make them a priority. Through trial and error, I discovered I was happier if I took the time away from working/studying/sleeping to work out and spend time with friends. I have two friends from high school in Chicago and despite one being another resident and the other a lawyer, we still make time for “family dinner” every month.
Where can we find you after hours? What are some of your favorite Chicago spots?
About every other day you can find me doing some sort of work-out ranging from running on the lakefront path (when it doesn’t get dark at 4:15!), at an exercise class or going to a ballet or jazz class (I’ve danced since I was 3). I enjoy cooking when I’ve got the time, and when I don’t have the time, going out to dinner at one of the MANY phenomenal Chicago restaurants. I love the lakefront path, the Lincoln Park Zoo is also one of my favorites (I think I’ve been to the Zoo Lights more times than many a Chicago native), and one can’t go wrong with dinner at Perennial Virant, RL or the Purple Pig.