Meet Keith W. Torrey, MD

Keith W. Torrey, MD

Name: Keith W. Torrey, MD
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA, feels most like home
Medical School: Drexel University College of Medicine
Professional Interest: Hopefully sticking with both sides of Med-Peds all the way-probably staying general but still perusing the idea of ICU, ID, Rheum

Residency Program Experience

What is the most important thing you learned during residency so far? Refining the skills of how to tell the integrated story of a patient - of a person - on various levels: to an attending or resident for proper care and sign-out with clarity and brevity, teaching to a student or the patient/family themselves with relatable principles or just reflecting on the whole narrative for myself to see how I can be better the next time. Also, if ever there's tension with a patient, sit down. On the floor especially. Nothing melts away the power dynamic like showing you care more about the conversation than your own clothes and comfort.

What is the key to being a good patient advocate? Remembering that our patients and families - however angry or despondent, patients, parents or children - are all vulnerable and in a difficult space, whether it's MICU or a well visit. And we have the luxury - even after a grueling 80-hour week -of going home between our times here, so just remembering that dynamic is a way to realize that we need to support them in person and even after they leave our care.

In the moments of self-doubt, how do you build yourself back up? Mindfulness and long runs. But most of the time I'm not building myself back up; we have a wonderful community for a reason, and I get better by talking things over with my colleagues.

What is the best way to find a good mentor? For an actual mentor, find someone whose style and accomplishments you want to mirror and just ask them outright about what you should be doing better to get to a strong spot and if they will sign on to continually help you. For a "coach," find the person whose way of thinking syncs with your own but who has better insight and wisdom and can push you.

What should new interns look forward to when starting the program? Self-discovery, learning how to push through fatigue, learning how to fail and pushing yourself back up, relying on others as needed and building a good community. We quickly formed groups for Book Club, to run together, play tennis, volleyball, trivia (woohoo, "Armitage's Army"!).

The biggest misconception about the intern year is... That it has to be an ordeal at all times. We still enjoyed ourselves a lot.

The one thing you absolutely should do during your intern year is... Talk with your residents/attendings to get to know - outside of rounds - what you want to emulate and what you want to avoid as a physician in life.

The one thing you should avoid during your intern year is… Dumping on other interns. It's so much better to work harder and be somewhat tired but known as the person who gives good sign-out, vs the person who left a dozen sloppy to-dos. (Also, avoid calling a consult without a *very* specific question that you have considered but cannot answer.)

Favorite residency event? I think the Peds retreat takes the cake, honestly. What a couple of days.

What's the best advice you have been given? In residency? Honestly, JJ takes it, "Spend the time to do it right. If you're busy, you don't have time to do it twice."

A Few Words About Cleveland, Ohio

How would you describe Cleveland to somebody who has never been here? A city that's busy reinventing itself and has a lot of wonderful pockets of activity and people.

What neighborhood do you live in? Cleveland Heights, Cedar Fairmount specifically.

What are some of the spots that capture the essence of Cleveland? The Art Museum is emblematic - a small but masterful collection of beautiful items. And the city's energy definitely comes out best in that area around the Q Arena and Progressive Field.

Your favorite spot for a coffee: Hmmm … my own kitchen? Haven't found the one spot I visit regularly.

A quick bite around the hospital: I do have Wolfgang on speed dial and have made the round-trip from the CICU in three minutes.

Brunch after a long call: I love Grumpy's, but Fire is way closer to me.

To impress a date: Pier W or Bar 32, for the view even more than what they serve.

A night on the town: Roaming downtown is nice but I've become fond of Ohio City/Tremont--Spotted Owl and such.


Recover after a long call: I still like hitting the gym and then plummeting into sleep.

Stay on top of discharge summaries: Hmmm … just do them immediately? It's always been worth it to me to push through and finish to get the ball out of my court thoroughly and feel the completion.

Avoid burn out: Oh good, the question that every PD faces and I am supposed to resolve it? I think continuously trying to focus on/remember what you love about delivering good care. Kristin Armstrong put it well, "When work is infused with joy, it changes everything about the attitude behind the effort. The resistance is removed. Things flow rather than push."

Get on the Chief Residents' good sides: I bought them all custom Rolex timepieces but then lost them. So as a backup, I support frequent high-fives, understanding/accepting some roughness with the schedules (that always seems tough) and playing nice during our yearly dodgeball game.

It's a Toss-Up

UH or VA: UH just feels more vibrant, and I like being able to walk around and see kiddos, too.

East Side or West Side: East Side feels like home, but West Side is more fun for going out.

Staying in or going out: Out unless I'm sleeping, probably.

Grand Rounds or M&M: Grand rounds - the latter makes me hungry.

Pizza or Tacos: Pizza almost always.

Scrubs or White Coat: Why not both? It's all about layers.

Lease or buy a car in Cleveland: Can I toss biking into the mix? But I own a car.

Own or rent a house in Cleveland: I almost bought, but renting is just so darn easy.

Getting Personal

On my bucket list: Traveling to all the non-polar continents.

Bad habit: Losing hours on Imgur and Youtube.

I can't live without … getting excited about stuff?

Favorite thing to come home to after a long day at work? My ready pair of running shoes, sun still beckoning through the window and some texts from people I love.

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