Educated Woman of the Week- Laura Gardner, Medical Doctoral Candidate

Laura Gardner
Medical Student

Where did you go to school and what did you study?
University of Utah School of Medicine, Utah State University
M.D. Candidate, B.S. Biochemistry

Tell us about your school/work life:
I attend the University of Utah School of Medicine as a second year medical student, so right now my life mostly consists of studying, studying, and studying. The good news is the things I get to learn and do are incredibly exciting and I feel very privileged to be learning how to care for patients.

As a second year, I usually spend 4 hours of my day in lecture and another 4-8 hours of the day in my books. On Wednesday afternoons I learn interviewing, physical exam, and clinical reasoning skills. Every other Monday is a multiple choice exam, and twice per semester a clinical skills exam. The clinical exams are simulated doctor’s office visits, so I complete a history & physical on actors called standardized patients. I see real patients every other week or so, either working out in the community clinics, volunteering at the free clinics, or seeing hospital patients with my clinical skills group. Most of us are also involved in leadership or student interest groups and research.

Tell us about your life outside of school/work:
I love volleyball, playing the piano, and weight lifting with my husband.

How did you know your path or decide your current path?
I vividly remember my 8th grade earth systems class was when I first realized my craving for knowledge. My teacher was explaining to us the chemical structure of water, which was brand new to me. She said something about the electron “octet rule”, but mentioned we didn’t need to know what that meant. The whole time she was speaking I was just enthralled, wondering about the mysterious octet rule and how molecules work. It was like she had cracked open the door, another world glistening behind it, but then quickly shut it before I could get a good look. I’ve been fascinated with the sciences ever since. I majored in biochemistry at Utah State University, working as a resident assistant and math and science tutor for girls with eating disorders at Avalon Hills. Working with these girls helped inspire me to pursue a career in patient care. I was lucky to have good mentors and friends who encouraged me to chase my dreams.

What does goal setting looks like for you?
I don’t have or use a magic goal-setting algorithm, but I have always been goal-oriented. Over the years I have learned to go with my intuition, which doesn’t sound like goal-setting at all at first though. Once I have a picture of what I want my future to look like, I try to follow my intuition, taking a lot of chances along the way. As the saying goes, you have to have 10 pots on the stove to get 1 to boil. Don’t be afraid to try..

What do you think matters more in college: grades or networking?
You really need both. You can have all A’s in the world, but if nobody knows who you are it’s going to be a lot more difficult for you to get where you want to go. Especially because there are going to be one-hundred other people with just as many A’s as you.

If networking doesn’t come natural, I feel you. Networking has been a challenge for me. The word has always sounded so artificial to me, so as a person who craves sincere interactions, I’ve been working on findings ways to “network” without losing myself. At networking events when everyone is chatting, my goal is to make at least 1 sincere connection with someone instead of focusing on meeting as many people as possible. It’s important to remember there are other people out there who really want to help you.

Now it’s your turn! Nominate an Educated Woman, click here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *