Life as a Resident

Michael Yao


Michael Yao, DO
Pediatric Resident, 2013-16
Pediatric Chief Resident, 2016-17

The University of New Mexico (UNM) Pediatric Residency Program was the perfect place for me to train.
Starting my intern year, I knew that I wanted to pursue fellowship training. Lucky for me, the program’s curriculum was flexible enough for me to become a strong general pediatrician but also have the experiences that I wanted to have during my residency training. During my training at UNM, I had the opportunity to do basic science research and present my findings under the mentorship of one of our NICU attendings, be a visiting resident at another institution where I was interested in pursuing fellowship training, and develop my skills as an educator.
Growing up in Hawaii, in preparation for any move, I have always been one to seek out a city that would offer me a great work-life balance. Albuquerque’s locals boast that they have 310 days of sunshine and it’s true! With all those days of sunshine and the city’s high elevation, Albuquerque’s weather allowed me to go hiking in Albuquerque and the surrounding areas for much of the year, to go for a run after a work day, to go skiing in the winter, to watch hundreds of hot air balloons go up every October, or to attend the many cultural and art fairs held throughout the year in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. 
I loved my training experience at UNM and left New Mexico having been enchanted by the “Land of Enchantment.”

The responsibility of being a new physician and the strain of long work hours are offset by an open and supportive work environment, a strong sense of collegiality, and a residency philosophy that embraces diversity and recognizes the importance personal and family wellness. Most importantly, living in New Mexico means that when not at work in the hospital, residents are surrounded by a beautiful landscape with a vast array of activities and opportunities open to them.

The Voice of Our Residents

Our program is dynamic and reflects the values of our residents. The program leadership, from the chair to the program directors and coordinator recognize how crucial it is to have residents as full partners in the administration and operation of a vibrant, thriving training program. Housestaff meetings are held monthly and function as a forum for residents not only to express concerns, but to put forth creative ideas for expanding and improving our training experience. Our doors are always open to address any issue, from life inside or outside the walls of the hospital. Our Residency Training Committee, Education Curriculum Committee and other standing committees are resident driven groups that rely on house officer ideas and energy. Our Selection Committee is composed of a majority of residents, ensuring that you will play a major role in selecting your peers.

The Faculty Mentor System

Each resident is able to select a faculty member from within the department to serve as mentor and advocate. The goal of our mentor system is to provide another, more personalized, venue of support for our residents. As with most aspects of our program, the advisor system is flexible, meaning that residents are given the opportunity to work with an attending of their choice. This mentoring relationship is used to help address professional goals, seek advice, and build friendships.

Relationships with Attending Physicians

The hierarchy created by more traditional medical school culture does not exist within our program. Residents of all levels interact directly with attendings as colleagues. We have very few fellows, and faculty and housestaff alike relish the close working relationship we share. Communication is recognized as one of the most important tools for learning, and is open and active not only among residents, but also between residents and faculty.

Relationships among Housestaff

The friendships shared by housestaff are vital. They transform the workplace into a positive, nurturing environment and ensure a strong network of support. This also means that residents frequently meet outside the hospital to celebrate their free time together at local restaurants, bars, venues, sports events, and parks. While most of these outings occur spontaneously, there are also various organized events interspersed throughout the year. As we say above, we work hard and play hard, and we do both together.


Residents in our program come from all over the country, from a variety of different backgrounds and with a wealth of different experiences. They each bring a unique set of values, ambitions and hopes to the program, and this is constantly being celebrated.

Recognizing the Importance of Family

Whether one’s family is in New Mexico, or elsewhere, we recognize the vital role that family plays in the personal and professional development of our residents. Our families can consist of parents and siblings, spouses, partners, children and friends and while we all come from different backgrounds, we all become a unique family together.