Name: Cassie Majestic, M.D.
Hometown: Port Huron, MI
Current city: Laguna Beach, CA
Undergrad with major: Arizona State University; Bachelor's of Science in Biology, magna cum laude
Medical School: The Ohio State University, MD
Residency program: Emergency Medicine, University of California Irvine
Social media: dr.majestic_md (instagram), Majestikal (snapchat)
Take me back a decade, what did you want to be when you grew up? I have wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember. My first memories are in 4th grade, when the internet was just getting up and running. I would research what it meant to be a doctor and how I could go about doing so.
What do you do now? I am an Emergency Medicine physician.
"I was a first generation college student, so it was tough for me to figure out how to even navigate through college. "
Tell me about your college application process? How did you decide on a school and major? I grew up in Michigan and spent a lot of time wondering what else was out there, and what it would be like to live in a warm state. I had family living in Arizona and I decided that I would take the plunge and apply to Arizona State. I visited many other colleges in Michigan that were excellent, but I had a gut feeling that I needed to move away. My parents were on board after I received several scholarships and I was off to AZ!
I chose my major based on the fact that I wanted to go into medicine and the biology major required a lot of the same classes that a pre-med was required to take. I didn't put much thought into it, and I sort of wish I majored in something totally different so I could've had experiences with subjects other than science.
What was the hardest part of your undergraduate studies? How did you get through it? I was a first generation college student, so it was tough for me to figure out how to even navigate through college. Determining an appropriate study plan was difficult and took some time. I had never lived anywhere else but a small town in Michigan, so moving to Phoenix was quite a culture shock and I had no clue what to expect. I tried to surround myself with people who had the same values as me, regardless of whether they grew up in a small or large town, and I ended up having such a great time and being pretty successful.
Did you take time off between undergrad and medical school? Why or why not? and if you did take time off, how did you spend it? I did not take time off, but I did complete a post-bacc program at Ohio State for a year prior to starting medical school. I had received acceptances to other medical schools, but I really liked Ohio State and I decided that waiting a year to go to my dream school was worth it. The post-bacc program had a conditional acceptance. If a specific GPA and MCAT score was met, I was guaranteed matriculation into medical school. It was great because it saved me another year of repeated medical school applications and financial struggles to pay for those applications!
"Anytime I save a life, like really save a life, I have this thought."
"You have to take care of yourself to make it through medical school. "
How and when did you decide on medical school? I remember wanting to be a doctor at the age of 10-11. I don't have a memory of why, as I had no family or friends in the medical field, but I started to do research on the medical field in 4th grade. Because I decided so young, it was just imprinted in my mind that it was my plan and I never changed it! I had no clue what it meant to be a doctor until I got to residency, but I'm glad I enjoy it because it sure was a long road!
What did you do to be a good medical school applicant? I had a plan from the day I started undergraduate school. I knew the classes I needed to take and do well in, and I studied hard for those classes that were really difficult for me. I tried to get involved with as many volunteering and shadowing opportunities that I could. It was SO helpful because I was able to see what real medicine was like. I networked with as many people as I could, even if it wasn't really necessary, because I was able to pull advice from so many different people and use it to move forward on my journey in medicine.
Why did you chose your medical school? I chose Ohio State because it felt right. It is so important to be happy where you are attending school, residency, working, etc. The rank of the school and statistics matter much less. When I interviewed at Ohio State, the people really stood out. It felt like a family environment there and I knew I would feel comfortable and supported if I attended medical school there.
Emergency medicine was a required 4th year elective at my medical school (Emory). Every year we have at least one person who either makes a last minute switch to EM or wishes they had taken the rotation before submitting ERAS . Why and when did you decide on emergency medicine? What other specialties did you consider? I decided on Emergency Medicine last minute. My plans, for as long as I can remember, were to be a surgeon. Once I decided to be true to my gut feelings, I realized that I wasn't excited about a career in surgery. I was jealous of all the medical students going into Emergency Medicine, and I always loved the EM physicians that I met throughout medical school. A few months before my residency applications were due, I decided on the best field in medicine! :)
How did you go about making your rank list? Did you couples match? If so, tell me about that. I did not couples match. I made my rank list heavily based on location. My husband graduated 3 years before me and since he's a Navy physician, there were only so many places he could possibly be stationed. We knew it would be tough because California is a very competitive place to get into residency. I ranked a lot based on location, but also based on gut feeling as well. I didn't want to be unhappy and much like my medical school choice, it was based on how much I liked the people.
What does an EM physician do? What's your bread and butter? An Emergency Medicine physician has a variable schedule that typically switches frequently from days to nights. We see all types of patients in the ED; healthy ones, sick ones, young and old. There are days when I go from a crashing patient to a patient with a simple viral infection to delivering a diagnosis of cancer to suturing a simple laceration. It's really variable and anything can happen in the ED at anytime! It's a tough mentality- it's very fast paced. We see many patients in a day, some days I see 2-3 patients an hour for 12 hours, with sparse food and bathroom breaks.
What is your schedule like? How many hours a shift/week do you average? How many shifts a month? Do the hours rotate? In residency, we average 5-6 days a week with a max of 60 hours a week, just due to all the shift switching we do. I did 12 hour shifts for my 3 years of residency but some residencies do 8-10. Most community Emergency Departments work their doctors 3-4 shifts a week at typically 8-10 hour shifts. This is really variable depending on the group you work for, and the location and needs of the Department. Some EDs are obviously a lot busier than others, so the groups that employ the physicians have to base work hours and conditions on this. The hours always rotate.
What's been the best part of your training so far? The worst? The best part of my training has been the camaraderie. In the Emergency Department, we all function like a team. That is best displayed when a very sick or dying patient comes in. We all share so much stress and emotional burden, but it doesn't feel as heavy with my colleagues, nurses, technicians, by my side. Being in medicine, you will always share a very special bond with those around you, who have trained as hard as you through the blood, sweat, and tears.
The worst part of my training has definitely been the hours. Residency is brutal, and after only 3 years, it is evident that my physical, mental, and emotional reserve has been depleted. With tough work hours, it has been difficult to maintain friendships outside of medicine, and have the energy to keep doing the things that I love.
Tell me about an encounter or two that made you think, "that's why I chose this career!" Anytime I save a life, like really save a life, I have this thought.
It's also really cool to see patients back in the Emergency Department (maybe not cool for them), after you've see them very sick. I had a patient with a collapsed lung a couple years back, who was in severe distress when I met him. I placed a chest tube and admitted him to the hospital where he had many severe complications and required lung surgery. I saw him back in the ED a year or so later, for a mild infection, but overall he was doing well. He expressed his gratitude, which is rare in Emergency Medicine just because of the circumstances, and it was really nice to see how he was doing.
What advice would you give to a freshman premedical student? I would say have as much fun as you can, now! It's always important to study, but you need to enjoy your college life before school gets real serious. I had SO much fun in college, and I will never regret it. You can be a great student AND have tons of fun. I highly suggest letting go of the worry and stress in your first 4 years of college because
- You're too young to feel that way so soon!
- You will never get these years back!
What about a 1st year medical student? To a 1st year medical student- make connections early on, shadow and learn about all the specialties as much as possible, and remember to stay true to who you are. Life is not all about medicine. You have to take care of yourself to make it through medical school. Give yourself the appropriate breaks and self love that you need to keep going. It's a long road!
life outside of medicine
"No one ever said a balance between work and life is easy... but if you don't figure out how to achieve this balance early on, burn out will catch up and it is a tough hole to climb out of."
"Most of my patients, even if lower socioeconomic status, have a cell phone. I figured, if I could reach just a few people and educate them on health, wellness, and medical principles, maybe I could make a difference."
What does work-life balance look like to you and how did you maintain it? Having a work-life balance means being able to enjoy your life instead of dreading the next day because of whatever job or studying you have on the agenda. Work-life balance has to include the "life" part, and for many medical students this can be a battle. It's necessary to stop yourself from spending every waking minute on medicine, and pushing yourself to regularly do the things you love (i.e. exercise, cooking, shopping, movies, etc). No one ever said a balance between work and life is easy... but if you don't figure out how to achieve this balance early on, burn out will catch up and it is a tough hole to climb out of.
Your instagram account is crazy popular! What inspired you to start it? I'm so excited to have started my Instagram account, and I never thought it would build itself so quickly! Social media is a huge part of today's world, especially with our youth. There can be a lot of negative influences through social media that make it easy to compare your life to others' lives, when no one is really seeing the whole picture through the filters and hashtags.
I really wanted to start educating the public, and others hoping to go into medicine, about what life is really like. Most of my patients, even if lower socioeconomic status, have a cell phone. I figured, if I could reach just a few people and educate them on health, wellness, and medical principles, maybe I could make a difference.
Trauma team on standby 💉💊🌡 Just another day in paradise! 😉 This is what our trauma bay looks like. We have multiple physicians, students, nurses and techs all in this little space, helping to care for the patient. Im biased, but my job is the most fun 🙌🏼 The emergency medicine doc stands at the head of the bed and performs an emergent airway if necessary, as well as talks the patient through what's going on, if they're awake. In trauma, we follow a very strict algorithm so that nothing is missed. We start with the ABC's. 1. Airway (can the patient support their airway I.e. Can they talk or do they have burns to the face/mouth, facial fractures, neck wounds, etc) 2. Breathing (lungs, breath sounds) 3. Circulation (pulses) We then move on to 4. Disability (neurologic exam) 5. Exposure (full exam to ensure no hidden injuries) 6. FAST scan (ultrasound to check for blood in chest, abdomen) There can be a few variations depending on your team, and many things happen concurrently. 👍🏼 I love the teamwork involved in trauma. It's really cool to see everyone come together and work towards one goal, and that's helping the patient. Just a little peek into the life of an ED doc ❤️
You're a part of the two physician household club (okay, I just made that up). Does balancing two careers get easier after training? I think that balancing normal life with two physician careers will never be easy, but I suppose you become less bothered by the nature of the lifestyle. Now... it becomes really tricky when your spouse is military, because then things definitely don't get easier. However, I appreciate being with someone who will never question my hours or my physical or mental stress. It's really tough to explain this lifestyle to someone who hasn't been through the training, so I am very thankful that I don't have to worry about that.
Do you have any tips or rules to keep you healthy during residency? I don't follow any strict rules, but I do allow myself to spend a lot of time on ME. I push myself to relax in front of the TV, or at dinner, instead of worrying about the studying or reading I should be doing. I used to worry a lot in medical school, and it made a normal lifestyle pretty tough and not very fun. I put ME first, always. And aside from that... I try to prep my meals and grocery shopping so I'm not eating bad food at work. But everyone knows it's impossible to keep a schedule 100% of the time.
"My ideal career is pretty much the one that I finally have!"
"I am happily married, and we recently bought our first home in Southern California, which is such a dream come true."
"You name it, physicians have sacrificed it. It's the price you pay for this career."
What does your ideal career look like? My ideal career is pretty much the one that I finally have! I have a flexible schedule, I work with people who have the same personality type as me, and I care for a variety of patients that never bore me. I do hope that in the future I can continue to increase my social media presence, travel more, and reach more people to educate them and motivate them to lead a life that truly makes them happy.
What does you ideal life outside of medicine look like? I am happily married, and we recently bought our first home in Southern California, which is such a dream come true. Perhaps there will be children in the future, but I know first there will be a lot of international travel. I have a lot of catching up to do!
Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself here, in Orange County, working in a community Emergency Department and hopefully with an increased social media presence. Hopefully my hair will not be as gray as I'm imagining it will be, and maybe a baby on the way!
What sacrifices have you made for your career? You name it, physicians have sacrificed it. It's the price you pay for this career. It's unfortunate to feel like you are giving up your own health sometimes, to improve the health of others; but it's true.