She no longer stuffs her pockets full of supplies and reference materials like she did when she was an intern. “Yet I find that what I carry now is much heavier than it was then,” writes Krista Terracina, M.D., a third-year general surgery resident at VCU Health. “I no longer carry any books or pocket cards; instead, I carry the lessons I have learned.”


Krista Terracina, M.D.

In a first-person essay, The Things I Carry, Terracina recounts those lessons – encapsulated in life-changing experiences that taught her about diligence, about relationship between surgeons and patients and about how appearances can be deceiving.

Hers was chosen as the winner of an annual essay contest organized by the Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons (RAS-ACS) Communications Committee. The committee had invited residents to describe what they learned outside of the lectures, textbooks, ORs and patient wards that typify residency training.

“Dr. Terracina’s piece exemplifies heartfelt experiences that will forever change her career path as a surgeon,” wrote Raphael C. Sun, M.D., a general surgery resident at Washington University, St. Louis who announced Terracina’s first-place honor. “I anticipate that as you take the time to read her essay, you will empathize and gain further insight into what is not formally taught in surgical training.”

Terracina earned her medical degree at Louisiana State University. She will receive a $500 prize, and her essay will be published in the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons.

By Erin Lucero