John  Tanaka
Senior Assistant Resident
House Staff

Start Year: 2020


Mililani, HI

Where did you attend university/college?
University of Southern California

Where did you attend medical school?
Duke University School of Medicine

What are your career goals?
In the future, I plan on practicing in an academic center with a focus on medical education. I enjoy working with students, and I hope to incorporate teaching and research into my future career. At this point in residency, I plan to pursue a fellowship in Cardiology.

Reflections on the Duke Program

What were you looking for in a residency program?
I was looking for a residency program that would provide clinically rigorous training while still fostering a culture of collegiality between residents and faculty. As a Duke medical student, I had the opportunity to work with many medicine residents and found myself inspired by their exceptional knowledge and their compassionate patient care. Most importantly, I was looking for a program that would grant me the autonomy to grow as a physician while still providing me with a solid support system to lean on when needed.

What are the strengths of the Duke Program?
Outside of the numerous opportunities for research and exceptional clinical training, there is a major emphasis on the "Duke Family" within the medicine residency program. There is an amazing culture of institutional support for the residents, both in and outside of the hospital. I have been very impressed by the adaptability of the program during the times of COVID, and I appreciate the program's emphasis on resident input and feedback during these times. However, the greatest strength of the program is the residents themselves. I am always amazed by my co-residents, who are some of the most welcoming and interesting people I've ever met. I also appreciate how open to questions the JARs and SARs are, further speaking to the program's supportive nature.

What are your observations about the relationships between faculty and house staff?
The faculty at Duke are incredibly supportive of the residents. They make a point to get to know each resident on a personal level and tailor their teaching to one's career goals. Most importantly, the faculty are great at providing the proper level of autonomy to allow for our growth as physicians.

Tell us about your co-residents. What has helped you connect, support each other, and form friendships?
My co-residents are awesome! Within days of matching, our class had set up a group chat and Zoom calls to get to know each other (while socially distanced). I've also been able to bond with many of them on rotations and in clinic, and they are all awesome people. I am excited to be able to work with this great group of individuals for the next few years!

About Duke University and Durham

What has surprised you most about Duke?
Everyone here is so supportive! Within 2 weeks of starting residency, I had attendings go out of their way to try and plug me into networking and research opportunities. Everyone in the program wants to see you succeed!

What is the best thing about living in Durham and the Triangle?
Durham has aspects of both city life and small-town living. There is a surprisingly good food scene in the area, a strong sporting culture, and tons of outdoor recreational activities. We are also about equal distance between the coast (where the surf is actually pretty good!) and the mountains, making for some great golden weekend trips.

How does the Triangle appeal to people of diverse backgrounds?
There's something here for everyone! People come from all over the world to live and work at the three major universities and RTP, and between Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh there is always something going on. Plus, coming from Los Angeles, the cost of living here is most definitely a major draw.

Where did you choose to live and why?
I chose to live in a house in the Watts/Hillandale area. My drive to the hospital is about 5 minutes in the morning, and I am still a quick drive from all of the restaurants on 9th St. and Downtown.

What advice would you give to someone looking to move to Durham?
There are tons of new housing options, so take your time looking for a place to live. The cost of living is low enough in the area that you can choose to live how you want to, regardless of if that's in a new apartment downtown or in a house in the suburbs.

What are your interests outside of medicine?
I love to golf! North Carolina has some of the world's best golf courses, and I spent my time in medical school and before residency exploring the state's golfing scene. I also enjoy playing basketball, fantasy football, and finding new bars/restaurants in the area.

House Staff