The real Deal

Litisha Deal, MD, is one of nine residents nationally to receive traveling fellowship.

By: Melanie Stawicki Azam

Working and teaching in South Africa for four weeks taught UF anesthesiology resident Litisha Deal, MD, to be creative, resourceful and calm under pressure.“The generator went out in one of my cases while I was there,” she recalled.

The first thing she did was pray the power would return. Then, she began to manually ventilate her patient using an anesthesia bag with one hand while administering medications with the other.

“You get creative,” Deal said. “I enjoyed it because it pushed me in (new) ways.”

Deal, 32,was one of just nine anesthesia residents nationally to receive the 2010 Society for Education in Anesthesia–Health Volunteers Overseas Traveling Fellowship. Each fellow serves a one-month assignment at an anesthesia training site in Ethiopia, Peru or South Africa.

Senior anesthesia residents teach and mentor their counterparts in the country they are visiting, while learning about diseases abroad and delivering health care in a different environment.

The first UF anesthesiology resident ever to have received the fellowship, Deal went to South Africa in October 2010. She taught a group of 75 medical officers outside of Johannesburg and worked at both government-run and private hospitals.

Faculty member Nikolaus Gravenstein, MD ’80, who is The Jerome H. Modell, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology, described Deal as “a role model for other young women.” She stood out as an anesthesiology resident by being involved in both research and being awarded an international fellowship, he said.

Deal isn’t one to sit still — she enrolled in both medical school and business school simultaneously, getting both her MD and MBA from the University of Chicago in 2007.

Her three-year anesthesiology residency at UF concluded June 30 and Deal has returned to her hometown of Chicago to go into private practice.  But she said her South African colleagues imparted valuable knowledge that will remain with her.

“The thing they taught me the most was to think unconventionally, while being resourceful,” she said.