During our last Pediatric Board Review Course, we were able to pull Paul Catalana, MD, MPH, FAAP aside from his course duties and talk with him about his background, passion for teaching, and medical education. Here's an inside look at what he had to say about the Pediatric Board Review Course and advice for those preparing for upcoming exams.
Dr. Catalana’s Background and Passion for Teaching
Dr. Catalana has been working with MedStudy since 2012 to bring Pediatricians the best in high-yield Pediatrics review materials. He went to school at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and did his Pediatric Residency at Prisma Health–Upstate, formerly Greenville Health System. He is currently Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Admissions at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine—Greenville in Greenville, SC.
During our Pediatrics Board Review Courses, Dr. Catalana serves as the Course Co-Director, which means he is onsite with us in the office (and was onsite at course locations with us pre-COVID) answering questions from attendees, delivering lectures he is highly specialized in, and helps manage the day-to-day course happenings!
Dr. Catalana's Growth & Development lecture from a Pediatric Board Review Course
He has also been a go-to for countless other study solutions for Pediatricians including the Audio Pearls, MOCA-Peds QuickRef, Pediatrics Core, Peds Q&As, and our most recent Medical Student Study Strong System. We're honestly not sure what we'd do without him!
Dr. Catalana working on the most recent edition of the Pediatrics Core Audio Pearls
Since Dr. Catalana is the Pediatric Board Review Course Co-Director and a student mentor, he knows a thing or two about teaching. We wanted to get some background on what lead him to his current role. Here's what he had to say.
When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?
I always knew that I wanted to teach. Originally, I was going to be a teacher, but, following a serious automobile accident that put my mom in the hospital for six weeks, with me in the car as well, I was exposed to a lot of things, and it really generated my interest in going to medical school.
How did you know Pediatrics was right for you?
I don’t think I ever had any doubts that pediatrics was what I wanted to do. As cliché as it sounds, I like kids. I think more importantly, their energy, their resilience, the fact that they don’t take themselves too seriously. They make me not take myself too seriously. Most of it is happy, and even when children are sick, their spirit and incredible resilience is a blessing.
What is the most rewarding part of your current position?
No doubt it is mentoring students. Most of what I do now, besides teach, is advise on how to get into medical school and how to perform well in medical school. A lot of that involves encouraging people to take care of themselves. This profession is tough, and sometimes we don’t do as well as we ought to at following our own advice about taking care of ourselves. So, I enjoy mentoring and counseling, and there is no better reward than to run into an old student or resident, sometimes even years down the road, and see them succeeding.
Dr. Catalana’s Guidance on Studying and Exam Prep
Dr. Catalana gave us some inside info on his self-care and exam tips.
What is one of your self-care tips?
Don’t take yourself too seriously and exercise. I think that, for a variety of reasons, that helps you to clear your mind and gets you ready for the next day.
What is something you wish you had known during your residency?
I think that during your residency you think that you have to know it all, and I have certainly come to realize that you will never know it all. I think that we all need to encourage one another to work as a team and to bring out the best in each other. Realize that it is far better to ask a question and to say “I don’t know” than it is to assume you know or have too much pride to admit that you don’t know. That is when we potentially put patients at risk, and none of us wants to do that.
What advice do you have for those preparing for exams?
I don’t think that we can ignore the fact that the importance of the exams and of certification is paramount. In the past, not all that long ago, it was nice to be certified, but it was not a requirement for medical staff privileges and the like. So, accept the fact that it is important, but do your best to not let its importance overcome you to the point where you let stress and anxiety interfere with your ability to study. I know that is easier said than done. But, I think making a plan, sticking to that plan, and finding a few proven resources will help.
Take a little while to remind yourself how you best study. People study in different ways, and I really think it will behoove you as you prepare for your boards to just briefly read some of the literature about how we learn as adults. You can read more about this in the StudyWise guide.
Dr. Catalana Shares His Favorite Onsite Pediatric Board Review Course Memory
Dr. Catalana in front of our StudySTRONG banner onsite in the Colorado Spring Office during the last Pediatric Board Review Course
What is your favorite memory from a MedStudy Pediatric Board Review Course?
Well, it would have to be the guacamole in the Dallas Omni Park West where the Pediatric Board Review Course course is held when it's onsite. I know it isn’t always all about food… but, it’s really good. Of course, I also have to say the people that I work with and the attendees. It is interesting. At first everyone is kind of quiet and sticks to themselves. Then the attendees get to know each other and the MedStudy staff and speakers. It is always encouraging at the end of the course to see people exchanging emails and wishing one another luck. It is encouraging for us, the speakers and the staff, to hear from attendees when they do pass because we do want everyone to succeed. So, guacamole aside, it is the people in the end.
We’re grateful for the insights and expertise of knowledgeable contributors like Dr. Catalana. Tell us which MedStudy physicians you'd like to hear from next.
See more of our expert physician lecturers by registering for the next Pediatric Board Review Course where you can see more outstanding MedStudy course speakers and contributors.