Dr. Lorraine Kelley-Quon, a 2008 UCLA graduate, originally chose to attend the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (DGSOM) because she wanted the benefits and opportunities of a big-city school.
As it turns out, medical school at the DGSOM prepared her for a medical career in many ways.
"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."
At the DGSOM, medical students get the rare and exciting opportunity to work directly with today's masters in medicine.
"I got to enter the head surgeon's operating room not once, but twice, as a UCLA medical student," says Dr. Kelley-Quon. She explains that even medical residents rarely get opportunities in the head surgeon’s operating room.
As a first-year medical student, Dr. Kelley-Quon took part in an organ procurement with the cardiac surgeon, an experience that helped her decide to specialize in surgery. "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.
Dr. Kelley-Quon says UCLA students enjoy plenty of opportunities to prepare for medical residencies by developing relationships with head surgeons, residents, and members of well-funded research labs and cutting-edge programs.
"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.
The vast amount and diversity of community and volunteer opportunities at UCLA let students get involved in causes bigger than themselves. This altruistic viewpoint highlights the most fulfilling aspects of medicine.
"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."
Dr. Kelley-Quon reflects on how everyone at UCLA, from the top down, is motivated to be excellent in everything they are interested in and everything they are doing. The drive she observed in others pushed her to do her best as well. "You just want to continue that excellence in your own medical residency and beyond," she concludes.
Dr. Kelley-Quon says her solid medical school education at UCLA helped her decide how she wanted to influence the practice of medicine throughout her career.