When the second class of the All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine pediatric residency program convenes in mid-June, one member should feel right at home.
Newly minted physician Phillip Mote, M.D., had quite a memorable experience at All Children's in July 2013 during a summer elective, part of his training at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He spent a rewarding two weeks with Johns Hopkins All Children's Heart Institute physicians, observing the daily care of young patients and watching intricate heart surgery.
And he even wound up - in a most unexpected twist during his All Children's stint - being operated on himself.
About a week into the program, Mote woke up one day with a sharp pain in his stomach.
"I thought it was possibly a virus, but I reported to work that morning and was having breakfast in the All Children's cafeteria - and I realized the pain wasn't going away," he recalls. He called in to say he wasn't feeling well enough to work that day. And after telephoning some fellow Hopkins medical students for their thoughts, he went to the emergency room at Bayfront Medical Center, where a CT scan revealed that the problem was a case of appendicitis.
"I had surgery that day, rested throughout the weekend, and I was able to start the rest of my rotation on Monday," he says. "It was a pretty quick recovery."
Needless to say, Mote made an excellent impression with his perseverance under difficult circumstances - and ACH JHM made an equally strong impression on him for providing such a positive learning environment. He never forgot that, and when it came time to apply for a residency program, he had no doubt about his first choice.
"As I interviewed at other places, All Children's was always in the back of my mind as the standard I would compare them to," he explains.
Several factors stood out to him. First, he was drawn to the innovative nature of the program, run by ACH JHM Medical Education Director Raquel Hernandez, M.D. -- with an emphasis on providing structured medical education for the residents as they provide patient care.
"I really appreciate the theory behind the All Children's Johns Hopkins residency - in that Dr. Hernandez and everyone working with her see the value of medical education going hand in hand with providing a work force for the hospital and patients," he says. "Some programs that are more ingrained view residents as the main workhorses of the program and aren't able to make education as strong a component."
Second, Mote was excited about being part of a smaller program, with 12 residents per class - and an eye toward medicine of the future. "That goes with the innovation aspect of this program, studying to be part of something new and experiment with different models of health care," he says. "I really liked that."
Attending high school in Georgia, Mote was more interested in math than medicine. He thought about pursuing industrial engineering, with its emphasis on operational and organizational challenges. At the University of Georgia, he switched his focus to biochemistry and molecular biology because he enjoyed the problem-solving tasks it required. Eventually, his love of math and science led him to pursue a career in medicine.
"I'm still able to use some of those math skills and problem-solving as health systems become a bigger and bigger topic, with things like quality improvement and patient safety," he says. "I like the challenge of how to organize a floor, or how to organize a clinic and make the work flow better. Intellectually, it has continued to stimulate me and I want to pursue those things during my career."
When he started medical school in Baltimore, Mote wasn't sure what specific path he'd follow - weighing the possibilities of internal medicine, emergency medicine and pediatrics. But several excellent mentors influenced his decision to work with babies, children and teens, sparking a special interest in community health. "I really see the power of that," he says.
His interest in helping youngsters in the community took the form of tutoring local middle school students while Mote was in college. And while attending medical school at Hopkins, he devoted as much time as possible working at inner-city health clinics - in the area of sex education and mental health - with the target population of pre-teen to late teens.
Mote has also helped at-risk children through his Baltimore church, assisting in providing a health and educational outreach, doing HIV testing and staging informational fairs for kids. During the recent riots that devastated Baltimore, he and others lent a hand to first responders by preparing box lunches.
Mote and his wife, also from Georgia, are happy to be back in the Southeast. And he can't wait to meet his fellow incoming residents. He has already gotten to know some members of the inaugural class of 2014 who participated in the interview process and stayed in touch with him after his interview last October. And he is hopeful to become involved with local community-based research - a path Dr. Hernandez has helped paved with her ongoing research into the prevention of early childhood obesity.
"I'm just looking forward to the whole experience - from being part of a new community of residents to learning from the clinical exposure I'll get," he says. "And I'm anxious to see how I can contribute to the community health aspect in St. Petersburg, with the youth population there. Dr. Hernandez has the knowledge and background to build on community health efforts. And I'm excited to be part of that."