March 2017 - With majors in art history and international relations and a
promising collegiate basketball career at Brown University, Alyssa Blood’s
likelihood of a career in medicine was low.
But injuries ended her hopes of a basketball career, and a
turn on the trading floor as an intern for Goldman Sachs in 2010 wasn’t the fit
she had hoped for.
“I made the final decision while working on Wall Street. It
was something I really thought I would like to do. And then I realized it wasn’t.”
“I liked the people and I liked the pace. What I didn’t like
is that I didn’t feel like I had a purpose. That’s sort of unfair because
there’s a purpose to moving capital around the world. But it wasn’t something I
was excited about at the end of the day. I didn’t really know why I was doing
it, and it didn’t feel right.”
The neurosurgeon who had helped her recover from
sports-related concussions recognized her interest in neuroscience and
suggested a new career plan when she graduated from Brown in 2011.
She joined the Boston University Center for the Study of
Traumatic Encephalopathy, which studies repetitive brain trauma in athletes and
the military. After starting medical school, she also worked in the Heidenreich
Lab on the Anschutz Medical Campus studying mild traumatic brain injury in
In choosing her medical school, she applied to several places
but favored Colorado. Blood, who grew up in New York and London, had been
coming to the state most of her childhood to ski, and she’d lived in Denver for
the summer in 2008 while interning with the Democratic National Convention
Her unconventional undergraduate majors helped in unexpected
ways during medical school.
“Art history taught me to think critically, and I became a
good writer and communicator because all of our exams were written or oral. “
The president of Medical Student Council, Blood used those
skills as co-chair of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) Student
Task Force, helping to organize the accrediting body’s March 2017 site visit
and working to improve communication between the student body and the Office of
Student Life. As her class’ Association of American Medical Colleges
Organization of Student Representatives delegate, Blood worked on curriculum
changes for CU medical school.
“My work with the LCME was one of the most fulfilling and
impactful things I’ve done in medical school,” Blood says.
Her art history major again became an asset during interviews
for residencies at 14 universities.
“I can’t tell you the number of times someone asked about art
in my interviews. People want to talk about something different, and art
history is different. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one with that major in my
When it came to choosing a specialty, Blood, 27, realized
that her years playing basketball influenced her decision to select surgery.
“I found it to be really team-oriented. You can develop
formative relationships with your team and patients more so than other fields I
had exposure to.”
Because of her liberal arts background, Blood found the heavy
science curriculum in the first two years in medical school challenging, but
she has no regrets about her choice to pursue medicine.
“I realized through my own personal injuries how formative a
physician can be in someone’s life. My doctor gave me hope when I was pretty
hopeless. I had post-concussive syndrome for over two years and didn’t know if
I’d ever get better. A physician can be someone who gives you hope, and that’s
sort of appealing.”
Blood will serve her residency at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York.