Erin K. Willits, M.D.
What attracted you to medicine and pediatrics?
The thought of becoming a physician started to form in my mind while in college, and I began seeking exposure to the field of medicine. I gained experience by volunteering at an urgent care clinic, and I pursued shadowing opportunities.
Through these experiences, I found working with patients and the direct application of science appealing — and any career that encompassed both was for me. Medicine provides the opportunity for continual learning and the opportunity to have a positive impact.
During my pediatric rotation in medical school, I developed an appreciation for the important role pediatricians play in the first years of life. Pediatricians have a unique opportunity to provide counseling and education to affect positive lifelong habits. I found working with kids to be extremely rewarding, and I love that a significant amount of my time "at work" is spent caring for infants and playing with toddlers.
What attracted you to Mayo Clinic for residency training?
In my residency search, I was looking for a midsize program with ample opportunities for research and advocacy. I was blown away on my interview day at Mayo by the residents and consultants. The residents seemed genuinely happy and knew each other well. They were interested in getting to know me and happy to answer every question. It was clear to me that they really enjoyed coming to work every day.
Additionally, Mayo is one of the few places I encountered that provide a good work-life balance and the ability to tailor training to personal interests. We have a good amount of flexibility in our schedules to explore our interests and have a life outside the hospital. The numerous electives in the first and second years make deciding on and preparing for fellowship more feasible.
What makes the Mayo Clinic Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine Residency unique?
My experiences in residency so far this year have exceeded my expectations. The consultants are extremely approachable and know each resident by name.
Although we work with world experts almost on a daily basis, I have yet to find a consultant who is too busy to teach. They are always eager to share their most recent research and help residents find a way to get involved in our area of interest. Residents truly benefit from Mayo's culture and emphasis on teaching.
What is living in Rochester, Minn., like for you?
After growing up in the West, I was slightly hesitant to move to Minnesota. I knew it would be an adjustment. However, Rochester has proved to be a great city to live in.
Living in a smaller city means a lower cost of living, and many residents are able to buy houses. My commute time is minimal, which means my time off is spent doing activities I enjoy instead of sitting in traffic or waiting for a bus. I have found many easily accessible running trails and parks to walk my dog.
Finally, the Twin Cities are just an hour away, making for an easy weekend or day trip to shop or find a new restaurant.
What does your future look like right now?
I am still undecided what to do after residency. I can see myself practicing general pediatrics, but am also interested in allergy and immunology. Regardless of which direction I choose after residency, whether pursuing a fellowship or returning to my hometown in Wyoming to practice primary care, Mayo provides the experience I need to be successful.