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Meet Annie Zhang

Name: Annie Zhang
Hometown: Dublin, OH
Medical School: University of Chicago
Professional Interest: heme/onc or primary care, public health, advocacy, medical education

Residency Program Experience

What was the most inspirational thing you witnessed while working at the hospital? ICU rotations can be tough both physically and emotionally. Patients are very sick and despite all the tools of modern medicine and the huge team of nurses, respiratory therapists, PT/OT, social workers, consultants, etc you still see a lot of death. The hardest are the unexpected deaths – whether the shock comes from a patient’s young age or an uneventful hospital course that quickly turns south. But some deaths are beautiful in their own way. They remind us of the immense privilege and intimacy of patient care. This past summer, I cared for a 92 year-old woman who was admitted to our ICU for respiratory failure. Although she was unable to communicate with us using words, her son, who her primary care taker, could read her every facial expression with confidence. After many days of intensive care, we could not identify any reversible causes and each time she attempted to remove her bipap mask, she was making it clear that long term support with bipap was not an acceptable option for her. Her son was always at her bedside and we spoke daily about her care. He ultimately made the difficult decision to transition his mother’s care to focus on comfort rather than curative measures. The next day, her room was filled with friends and family at her bedside. They took turns in the room, held her hand, prayed for her. That we could care for her in her last days with compassion and dignity means the world.

What is the biggest sacrifice you have made in your medical training so far? Time in my 20s.

What trait do you most admire in talented physicians? Some of the physicians I’ve admired the most in my training are ones who excel in communication and connection with patients and their families. I remember one senior resident who beautifully distilled the nuanced risks and benefits of various treatments to a patient’s family in a way that was succinct and clear so that the family could better make an informed decision about their loved one’s care.

One thing I wish I knew before starting the Residency Program is? Starting residency can be overwhelming – there’s a lot to learn! Before starting, I’d highly recommend spending some time learning about basic finance topics like budgeting, loan repayment, disability insurance, retirement accounts etc. Doing some upfront homework can help you feel confident you’re making informed choices about your financial well being when you later on may have less time.

What was the most difficult thing during your intern year? Moving to a new city and leaving behind my previous support network of friends and family.

At work I never…am without snacks.

What is the key to making the best of this Residency Program? Keep an open mind and start every rotation with purpose. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new.

What is the one item somebody starting residency should absolutely invest into? Comfortable hospital shoes and a good pen.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given? Advocacy can take many forms and you can be an advocate for others at every point in your career.

A Few Words About Cleveland

How would you describe Cleveland to somebody who has never been here? It’s a small Midwest city where people are friendly and there is great access to green spaces in the metro parks. It’s very comfortable to live in – rent is cheap, commuting is easy. We do have 4 seasons aka it does get cold.

What neighborhood do you live in? I live downtown. My commute is 15 minutes by car to UH or the VA. One of the benefits of living downtown that I didn’t realize before moving here was that you get great access to all the highways.

What are some of the spots to go to fall in love with Cleveland? I love the parks for hikes – Rocky River, Sulphur Springs, Cuyahoga Valley NP.

Best kept secret about Cleveland is…there are great El Salvadorian pupusas on the West Side.

Your favorite spot for a quick bite around the hospital? The cafeteria has some cheap eats but Little Italy is super close by for some post work treats or group dinners.

A good burger – I don’t think I’ve a burger in Cleveland yet but I’d highly recommend the pita sandwiches at Brassica.

Dinner with friends – Zhug! Great place to share small plates.

Great patio – Felice Urban Cafe

A night on the town – usually involves dining out. I’d also recommend Batuqui for Brazilian food in a home restored Victorian home.


Cope with sleep deprivation: be kind to yourself. Sometimes an extra nap over doing a social activity helps me feel more refreshed and that’s okay.

Avoid burn out: Finding time for things that bring you joy.

It’s a Toss-Up

East Side or West Side: West side

Staying in or going out: staying in

UH or VA: UH


Sushi or tacos: I love both.

Lease or buy a car in Cleveland: buy

Own or rent a house in Cleveland: a very personal decision but it’s worth considering buying if you think you may be in the area for 5 or more years.

Getting Personal

On my bucket list: visit all the national parks, learn to scuba dive

I can’t live without: coffee

Bad habit: I hoard papers from the hospital because I write notes to myself. At the end of a rotation I always have to make an effort to dispose of them.

If you were given three additional hours a day, what would you do with them? I’d probably sleep or exercise.

Fun fact most people don’t know about me is: I kayaked off the coast of Oahu and saw a wild sea turtle!

When I’m not on call you will find me: Cooking, biking/hiking, or watching Netflix.