"Read and learn and do not be afraid of new situations that can give you different experiences. The more you see and do, the better you will be at handling problems that you encounter."

Role Model Photo Katherine Brown

Health Field: Physician

Number of years in the profession:
8 year

Years in College: 11 years

Professional Credentials:
BS, MD, board certification Internal Medicine, American Academy of HIV Medicine certification

How did you know this career was what you wanted to do?
I was interested in biology in high school and majored in biology in college. I then worked in a National Institutes of Health research lab for 5 years. We were researching vaccines for AIDS. Although I loved working in the lab, I wanted to do graduate training and decided to become a doctor.

What other careers did you consider?
Nursing, Nutrition

What experiences in your life developed your interest in your career?
I loved my science classes and although research was intellectually stimulating, I wanted to interact with people and thus decided on a career in medicine.

What early preparations did you take (in high school and college) to reach your career goal?
My work in a research lab introduced me to the world of scientific thought. For clinic experiences, I volunteered at a county health clinic to see what doctors and nurses did.

What things did you find to be difficult as you prepared for your career?
I stopped my education after college and had my children. This meant I had to study quite a bit to take the Medical College Admission Test. At age 37, I also was an older student applying to medical school.

How did you overcome these challenges?
After having a family and a job you become very disciplined in your study habits.

Was your family supportive of you through your college (or other training) years?
Yes

Did you have a job and work while you were going to college or other training? No


Present Career as a Physician


Describe an average work day for you.
My schedule at the clinic is 8-5. I usually have work to do until 5:30 or 6. I don't have to "take call" at night or on weekends, and we don't go to the hospital to take care of patients. Many days we have a meeting or training for an hour but the rest of the time I see patients who are sick or who are coming to their regular appointments. We do lots of paperwork during the day (charts, medicine refills etc). Many nights I read medical journals for an hour. One or two nights a month I work at The Volunteer Clinic or at a night clinic at one of the other Community Health Centers. To remain up to date, I go to conferences that last from 1-3 days several times each year. Many days I have a student shadowing me, or an intern or resident working with me.

How many hours do you work in an average week?
40-50

What kind of health care setting do you work in?
I work at a Community Health Center. It is an outpatient clinic for adults with HIV/AIDS. Most of our patients don't have insurance or any way to pay for their health care. Community Health Centers provide care to "indigent" (uninsured and/or poor) patients.

What do you see as strengths needed for your career?
Curiosity, self-discipline, self-directedness, love for people and a desire to help them. Also, all doctors are compulsive. We have to be compulsive about details so that we can figure out what is wrong with a patient and so that we can formulate and organize a plan to take care of someone.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Helping patients feel better is very rewarding. Working with nurses and other doctors who are all compassionate and smart makes the work fun.

What advice would you give to those who are interested in your career?
Read and learn and do not be afraid of new situations that can give you different experiences. The more you see and do the better you will be at handling problems that you encounter. I recommend volunteering at a clinic, either in your community or in another part of the world. I also recommend shadowing physicians at their offices to see what their work is like.

If you could start over, would you still make the same decision to pursue education?
Yes! The only thing I might change is to have gone to medical school sooner in life (I didn't start until age 37). I counsel students to consider the path of combined MD/PhD because the medical school pays your tuition, and you don't finish with lots of loans to repay.

Do you plan to pursue opportunities for advancement in your career field?
I am planning to pursue a Masters of Public Health degree. This will further my education and open up additional career opportunities for me. After these classes I will be able to direct clinical research studies.

View Other Professionals in this Field
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