But medical school at UCLA prepared her for medical residency in many more ways than just logistics or classes.
"UCLA is known for excellence in every department and you have exposure to that as a medical student," says Dr. Kelley-Quon. "Coming out of UCLA medical school is a continuation of that prestige, which helped me to match at UCLA as a surgical resident and, later, to specialize as a pediatric surgery resident at UCLA."
Dr. Kelley-Quon is now in her seventh year of medical residency in UCLA's general surgery department, working toward a fellowship in pediatric surgery.
Direct access to medical masters
One of the most exciting things about being a UCLA medical student is working directly with today's masters in medicine, says Dr. Kelley-Quon.
"I got to enter the head surgeon's operating room not once, but twice, as a UCLA medical student," says Dr. Kelley-Quon. "Only this year, 10 years later as chief resident, have I finally reached that level of entering the head surgeon's operating room once again."
As a first-year medical student, Dr. Kelley-Quon took part in an organ procurement with the cardiac surgeon, which steered her toward choosing surgery as a specialty. "I got to fly to a different part of the state and scrub in to help harvest the heart. This was an incredible moment in medicine for me, which I wrote about in my personal statement for my medical residency match application." Not every hospital has a large, cutting-edge transplant program like UCLA, Dr. Kelley-Quon asserts.
"As a third-year med student, I got to scrub in to the operating room with Dr. Howard Reber, a giant in pancreatic surgery. From that experience, he got to know me well enough to write one of my residency match application recommendation letters," says Dr. Kelley-Quon.
From huge, well-funded research labs to cutting-edge programs in every specialty, to the head surgeons and residents themselves, Dr. Kelley-Quon says that there are always people to talk to and opportunities to develop relationships which can prepare students for their medical residencies.
"I got to be part of the group of surgeons on the cutting edge of defining what quality surgical care is and how to make the practice better," says Dr. Kelley-Quon.
Community engagement experiences
Because of the vast amount and diversity of community and volunteer opportunities at UCLA, students are involved in causes bigger than themselves, which is a large part of the process at UCLA for helping medical students develop an interest in a specialty and the leadership skills they will need as a resident, explains Dr. Kelley-Quon.
"As a UCLA med student and now a medical resident, I work with diverse types of physicians, mentors and programs who all want to help people from a health perspective," says Dr. Kelley-Quon. "Exposing myself to global health and working with the underserved did more than just open my eyes. It made me a better person, a better resident and a better doctor."
In fact, she explains that everyone at UCLA, from the top down, is motivated to be excellent in everything they are interested in and everything they are doing. "You just want to continue that excellence in your own medical residency and beyond," she concludes.
Dr. Kelley-Quon says her medical school education at UCLA was the solid foundation for deciding how she wants to influence the practice of medicine in the future.