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In the Spotlight: Enjoying research and exploring opportunities

In the Spotlight: Enjoying research and exploring opportunities

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Like many newish medical students, second-year student Jill Anderson, a Bay Area native, is still figuring out exactly what she’d like to do. Her current interests include obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics, with some clinical research and teaching mixed in.

I caught up with her recently to learn more.

How did you first become interested in science?

I’ll be the first physician in my family, but my dad works in biotechnology, so it was through a combination of learning about his work and my classes in school that I became interested in science.

I was also a competitive athlete playing soccer and running cross country and track growing up and I think that sports and the emphasis on improving performance gave me an early interest in the human body. The many trips to the doctor and physical therapist for injuries also stoked my fascination.

What are you working on today?

My project this summer involved looking at how fetal lung masses grow in utero based on ultrasound data, as well as determining whether the type of mass has an effect on outcomes.

I’m also still involved with research studies that I helped to start while working as a clinical research coordinator. Both are related to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. There is still so much we don’t know about ME/CFS and I think these two studies could really contribute to our understanding of the disease.

I’m also a lab coordinator for the Arbor Free Clinic, the student-run clinic in Menlo Park. I present the patient cases and lab results to the attending, and afterward I go over the results and next steps with the patients.

What is one thing you would do differently if you had the opportunity?

I didn’t do very much clinical research in college, but I ended up really loving it and now I want to continue doing that through medical school and as part of my career.

What has medical school been like?

It’s been even better than I expected. What we’ve learned in class has really confirmed that medicine is the career for me, and there are so many opportunities to get involved. I have more outside-of-class time than I anticipated. I really like that they give us a lot of flexibility to help shape how we learn.

Do you have any advice you would give to someone thinking about going into medicine?

It’s a fantastic field. It is a long journey, though, and I would recommend getting exposure through shadowing, research or volunteering to see if it is the right path. At the same time, they should continue to pursue their other passions because I think having people with diverse interests and experiences is what makes medicine so great.

What are you reading now?

I tend to read a couple of books at a time. I’ve been reading a historical novel by Kristin Hannah and a book about how doctors think about clinical decision-making.

In the Spotlight, formerly known as Stars of Stanford Medicine, features standout scholars in the School of Medicine. 

Photo by Becky Bach

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