Hometown: Villanova, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate: University of Pennsylvania, BS in Psychology
Drexel University College of Medicine Class of 2018
Q & A
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself before you came to Drexel?
"I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and I went to undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do. I fell in love with biology during my senior year of high school, which was when I first thought about pursuing medicine. I decided to take pre-med classes at Penn, but I also majored in psychology and took a lot of education classes. After I graduated, I still wasn't sure if I wanted to go to medical school, so I took two years off. During that time, I moved to New York City and worked as a medical scribe. I really loved my job, and I decided that I did want to apply to medical school.
What was attractive to you about Drexel's medical school?
"I'm actually the first doctor in my family. I have no close friends or family members in medicine, but I always heard how rigorous and difficult medical school was, so I wanted to be close to home where I could get support from my family.
What was your experience like in the program?
"Honestly, Drexel wasn't my first choice, so I wasn't very excited coming in, and I was nervous. However, I can't imagine any better place for me. It's really been incredible. I reached a potential I never thought I could possibly reach. It was definitely a difficult four years, but I felt so supported. Through the medical program and the Women's Health Education Program, I was able to accomplish so many things. It wasn't just the bare bones courses and clerkships. I really got to enjoy my time here and grow personally. I'm so grateful for Drexel. I can't imagine now wanting to go anywhere else.
What was your relationship like with the faculty?
"I knew I wanted to be in pediatrics from the start, and I feel very lucky that I had a great advisor in Dr. Levine, who was the Pediatric Clerkship Director and Pathway Director. We have a strong relationship that developed over my time here, and he really supported me throughout all four years of medical school. Additionally, the faculty specializing in Women's Health, specifically Dr. Wolf, was always available to help me and helped me to tailor my interests and passions into a project that suited me.
"In general, I feel that the faculty in the first two years were really approachable and really wonderful people. During the clerkships, there were some attendings that were friendlier or more approachable than others, but I've had only positive experiences. I'm leaving here with mentors that I feel like I can reach out to when needed.
Have you developed good relationships with your classmates through this program?
"Definitely. I actually got married four weeks ago, and I had a med school table at the wedding. I feel like I would not have gotten through medical school without them, or I would have maybe gotten through it, but not happily and not sanely. I'm really grateful for my friends, and I think that they're going to be lifelong friends.
Were you involved with any extracurricular activities while you were here?
"Yes. I was a member and then became co-president of the Pediatrics Interest Group during my second year of medical school. I helped plan fundraisers and helped students shadow in certain specialties within pediatrics. I also did the Women's Health Education Program, which was a very extensive project. I taught in an underserved neighborhood in New York and did research based on my time there.
"I also was a community tester for the HIV and Hep C Clinic at Prevention Point where I would screen patients for those two infectious diseases. We would also educate the patients about the diseases, share their results with them, and help counsel them. It was a really rewarding experience.
"Additionally, I was a med scholar. I tutored the gross anatomy course, which I loved. It was really fun and kept me reviewing my anatomy.
How did you get involved with the Women's Health Education Program?
"Another amazing thing about Drexel is that they have a Big/Little program that was really successful for me. During orientation for the first year of medical school, I was set up with a second-year medical student, and we really hit it off. She was a Women's Health Scholar and told me about how much she loved it and how supportive they were of her. I am so grateful that she told me about it.
What did you do as a Women's Health Scholar?
"I spent the summer between my first and second year of medical school as an advanced ninth grade math teacher, teaching Algebra II and Pre-Calculus. The class was made up of three boys and one girl. The class was fun, but I wondered why it was made up of more boys than girls. This is also something I thought about a lot while I was growing up. Being a woman who always loved math and science, I was usually the minority in the room in terms of gender.
"I researched this and found that there's something called "mathematics anxiety." There are strong psychological and social aspects to this, as well as a biological basis for it. Female stereotypes are reinforced from a young age, causing women to shy away from the fields of science and math, even though they're just as capable and just as intelligent, based on having the same GPAs and same grades in school. I wondered a lot about that discrepancy, so I spent a lot of time doing a literature review about that topic and wrote a paper about it.
What is one of your favorite experiences from medical school?
"This past year, I did an elective through the Women's Health program. I wanted to learn about breastfeeding because I'm going to be a pediatrician and I knew very little about it. I could tell you what the composition is of breast milk, but I didn't really know the latching process. I want to be able to help moms be able to do that with their babies because it's the healthiest thing for them.
"I found a lactation consultant at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, where I did my pediatric rotations. She was happy to have me come spend two weeks with her. I pitched it to Dr. Wolf, and she fully supported it. I had invaluable hands-on experience with moms and babies with the lactation consultant there. It was really rewarding, and I loved it so much that I researched whether it was possible to get certification for this. I talked to Dr. Wolf, and she said, "If you can figure out the logistics, we'll support you."
"Dr. Wolf approved me to go to Florida to take a one-week lactation course and helped me apply for scholarship money as well. Now, I'm a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC). I'm more than prepared and feel much more comfortable counseling moms about breastfeeding, which is an integral part of pediatric and newborn health. As an incoming resident to a residency program, I feel really excited to share this knowledge with moms, with my co-residents who may not know, and maybe to start some sort of lactation program at my future program because of all of the help that I got from the Women's Health program.
Where is your residency?
"Kravis Children's Hospital at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.
Why did you decide to become a pediatrician?
"I always loved working with kids. I think they're fun, I think they're resilient, and I just enjoy my time with them. I actually wanted to be a teacher before I fell in love with biology. Then I thought, "What better way to combine my interests of science and working with kids?" Being a pediatrician was something I thought was a perfect combination of those things.
"I was open-minded throughout medical school. I liked everything and enjoyed every clerkship, but when I went through my pediatric rotation at the end of the third year, I loved every single day. The medicine is really interesting. I love that with children you get to see them from birth through their 18th year, and every single year the medicine changes with different diseases, milestones and psychology. I want to support children as they grow and develop a strong relationship with them and their families along the way.
What advice do you have for future medical students for how they could be successful in the program here?
"Drexel really focuses on students' well-being, which is something that I really focus on for myself. I think it is essential to maintain a balanced life. Studying can be overwhelming and take over everything, so it's important to spend time with your classmates and family as well as friends outside of medical school. Having the flexibility that Drexel allows really enabled me to focus on my studies and then to compartmentalize and also focus on my personal life. I was in a long distance relationship, which I wanted to prioritize, and travelled to New York every other weekend. I actually think the time I took away from studying helped me focus better when I was studying, because I was happy in my personal life. My biggest piece of advice is to not drop any aspects of your personal life—whether it's exercise, cooking, relationships, reading, et cetera. Maybe you have to prioritize, and maybe you can't do everything every single day, but do not let go of who you are."