(May 2018) Jamie Gilroy was working as a waitress and mulling a career
in public health when she had “one of those lightbulb moments” that started her
down the path to medical school.
A graduate of the University of Vermont with a degree in
biology, Gilroy had held food service jobs since high school and volunteered at
a nonprofit deli on campus. The epiphany brought insight into why she
always returned to the field: She loved the customers.
Not the ones who screamed at her when she mistakenly brought
a side of bacon instead of sausage, but the regulars whose preferences she
memorized and who greeted her as a friend, or new customers delighted to be
served a cappuccino.
“One day I just realized that I really liked working
one-on-one with people,” who took two years off between her undergraduate
degree and medical school.
She had long considered medicine a career option. She’d
volunteered at a hospital during her undergraduate years, and she remembers
encouragement from a family friend who worked hard to persuade her to become a
“He was an emergency physician and was so incredibly
positive about the field. I remember in high school he sat down with me at my
parents’ kitchen table and ran through the entire anatomy of the human hand
because he thought I’d be a good hand surgeon.”
A native of Philadelphia, Gilroy applied primarily to
medical schools on the East Coast. She nearly cancelled her final interview at
University of Colorado School of Medicine.
“I had gotten in somewhere else that I liked, but I had a
couple of friends who moved here so I decided to go see them. I fell in love
with the school. Everyone was so nice, and I felt I had much more in common
with people here,” said Gilroy, who adds that the opportunity for good skiing
was also a lure.
Soon after arriving, she became involved in the school’s
Curriculum Steering Committee because she wanted a voice in decisions being
made about her education. “I didn’t entirely know what I was getting myself
into but it sounded interesting, and as time went along I had more of an
She is involved with the
curriculum reform Commitment Committee, where she is researching ways to
eliminate student mistreatment and improve the learning environment.
“It’s a really important area because no matter what you do
from a hard curriculum standpoint, students need to be able to feel engaged.”
In her third year, Gilroy, enlisted in the Veterans
Administration Sequential Training Program, where students participate in
psychiatry, neurology, internal medicine and general surgery rotations for six
Ultimately she chose to pursue obstetrics-gynecology, her
first rotation, after spending her third year comparing it to all the other
“I thought maybe I just loved being out of the classroom.
But I kept coming back to it after every rotation and I knew I didn’t like
anything else as much.”
The daughter and niece of educators, Gilroy has tutored
first-year students during her fourth year and hopes to join academic medicine.
She encourages students to avoid stress by learning from her mistakes.
“What I tell people is don’t procrastinate on anything. When
I was younger I put things off and would finish papers the night before they
were due – the kind of thing that drives your mother nuts,” said Gilroy, 27, who
was named to Alpha Omega Alpha and who will serve her residency at University
of Colorado Health.
“You save a lot of
time if you keep up with the lecture material. And before the small groups on
related topics, it helps if you’ve studied ahead of time. It’s a lot more
beneficial and you don’t have to study as much later. The same goes with the
third year: Do a little prep the day before a new rotation, and the first day
you’ll learn a lot more from the patients because you’re not lost trying to
figure out what people are saying.”