Aspects of a Learner - Tyler Fulks, MD

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As the chief resident physician in the Division of Emergency Medicine, Tyler Fulks, MD, Class of 2016, has made it his life’s mission to provide the best care to patients having their worst days.

What was your childhood like?
Dr. Tyler Fulks: I grew up not far from here in Chatham. As a boy, I knew I wanted to be either a rock star, a racecar driver or a doctor. I’m glad at least one of those seemed to pan out.  
I used to race go karts. My dad’s whole side of the family races to this day. I retired from racing in middle school, but at the time I was actually pretty good.

What made you choose medicine?  
There was never really one ‘defining moment’ that inspired me to pursue a career in medicine. My mom’s brother is a physician and from an early age I always felt like his job sounded fun and exciting. After high school I was lucky enough to land a job as a tech in the emergency department at Memorial Medical Center. I always consider that my first true experience with the world of medicine and from there, I was hooked.

What attracted you to emergency medicine?
I was drawn to the exciting, fast-paced style of practice that occurs in the emergency department. It works well with my short attention span. In med school I began to better appreciate the wide breadth of knowledge emergency physicians must have in practice. I can remember one of my mentors explaining that in emergency medicine we are not only resuscitationists, but it is our duty to know how to manage the first 30 minutes of every specialty in medicine.
Now that I have been doing this a while, I believe the most gratifying aspect of my job is the ability to have a positive effect on people during what is often one of the worst days of their lives.
And because I’m from here, the ability to provide care for the community that raised me is very rewarding.

What are your plans after residency and beyond?
I will enter a one-year, out-of-hospital care fellowship at Indiana University in Indianapolis. In fellowship I will be immersed in the world of prehospital care and will come out with the training and experience necessary to serve as a successful emergency medical services (EMS) physician.
After fellowship, I will be double-boarded in the practice of both emergency medicine and EMS. From there I plan to fulfill my ultimate career goal of becoming an EMS fellowship-trained academic emergency medicine provider.

What might we find you doing outside of work?
My fiancée and I have been remodeling our house for what feels like an infinite amount of time. There isn’t really a clear end goal to it either. It seems like each project we complete inspires two additional projects. Outside of that I like to play basketball and golf, weather permitting.
And I love karaoke. What I lack in talent, I attempt to make up for in sheer passion. I’ll sing all genres, but my go-to song has to be ‘Shameless’ by Garth Brooks. A couple years ago my family got me a karaoke machine for Christmas and I don’t think my dog, Finnley, will ever forgive them for that.

What’s your motto or favorite quote?
“If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” My mom used to say this to her fifth graders (she was a teacher), but I think it originally comes from Conan O’Brien. Nevertheless, the sentiment is all the same.

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