Spring 2012
Resident Round-Up

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Chantal Reyna, M.D.

Chantal Reyna, M.D.'08, practices her surgical skills at the Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas. Photo by Edgar Antonio Núñez

Surgery resident embraces life

By Anne McMillin, APR

This School of Medicine resident couldn't be happier with life. Even considering the strenuous hours and demands of her general surgery residency, Chantal Reyna, M.D. '08, embraces all that life is throwing at her with enthusiasm and a bright disposition that has earned her the nickname "Sunshine."

"I am a happy person who loves life and enjoys what I'm doing. I'm happy with the way things are going for me," said the fourth-year resident, who while doing research presentations and seeing patients in the clinical setting for her residency program is also planning a spring 2012 wedding to her high school sweetheart.

Originally drawn to orthopedics, Reyna observed her first surgery on her 21st birthday and that experience, combined with a summer program after one year of medical school and a third-year surgical clerkship, moved her to pursue surgery.

"We covered many topics in the first two years of the residency. I've had lots of exposure so that I'm feeling comfortable caring for critically ill patients," she said.

It has been the trauma experiences that have left a big impression on her.

"Suturing a heart after opening a patient's chest or doing a gall bladder from start to finish is humbling because I've been trusted to save a life. It has also taught me that this is what I am capable of doing and I walk away from each experience learning something," she explained.

When not in the hospital, Reyna hones her surgical skills at the Clinical Simulation Center on the Shadow Lane campus in Las Vegas. She praises the facility as being "phenomenal."

"It is conducive to learning and is open anytime for us to practice. The technicians are very helpful," she said.

Reyna also finds time for clinical research activities. Last year she made two poster presentations: one on bilateral breast cancer at the American Society of Breast Surgery and the other on inflammatory breast cancer at the Southwestern Surgical Congress.

More recently, she presented her research entitled, "Axillary dissection vs. no axillary dissection in women with invasive breast cancer and sentinel node metastasis: a randomized clinical trial" at the inaugural Philip H. Goodman Award for Resident Excellence in Critical Appraisal.

She would like to continue her research activities by being part of a study that collects data moving forward for a more proactive approach.

Reyna's clinical research has narrowed down her surgical focus and she is considering a future fellowship in breast oncology. She said several faculty members, including Daniel Kirgan, M.D., have supported her along the way and have encouraged her to pursue this dream.

"She'll make a fine breast surgeon. She is extremely bright and an exemplary resident. Others should model themselves after her. She keeps up with her reading material, is technically skilled and has compassion and caring for her patients," Kirgan said.

This California native who grew up in Boulder City, Nevada and attended the University of Nevada, Reno on a soccer scholarship, is happy she stayed in Nevada to attend medical school and complete her residency. She said she is grateful to have received every opportunity available to her and sees her future as bright.