March 2017 - Regina
Kwon’s list of work experiences before entering CU School of Medicine fills the
first page of her resume: developing e-commerce tools at Christie’s Inc.,
infographic design and cost analysis at Ziff Davis Media, building a software
platform that was purchased by Microsoft, adjunct lecturer at Hunter College at
CUNY, research work at University of Colorado, New York Presbyterian Hospital
and Weill Cornell Medical College.
are the things that aren’t on her resume: designing “cootie catcher” greeting
cards, making linotype posters, and volunteering in soup kitchens.
So she was
sympathetic when she learned that students who want to take a year off from
medical school to pursue other interests sometimes have to abandon that dream
because of financial concerns.
Most want to
further their education in other fields by getting degrees in public health,
business or law. But others want time to pursue a global health project, explore
specialties or get involved in research.
with those last three scenarios is that loan payments come due because the
student is no longer in the educational process.
with the School of Medicine Office of Student Life to come up with a plan to
keep students enrolled in school while still taking time off for independent
study. It’s called the Scholar’s Year.
student was someone who found out late he wanted to specialize in a competitive
specialty, so he took a year to do research before applying for residency,” she
students will take advantage of the Scholar’s Year to help the community and
“If you had
a year you could have such amazing accomplishments. Someone could start a
community clinic like the DAWN Clinic. Or I’d love to see a student make a
documentary about life in Pueblo. Ultimately it’s important that third years
know it’s an option.”
took a break between third and fourth year to get a Master of Public Health
degree, says a circuitous path to her medical degree has helped her
enough experience by now to know what I’m good at and what I’m not. It helps me
focus my energy.”
that she was at her best when working in process and execution, and at her
worst when she was asked to do sales.
person who figures out the details, how it could work and how it could fail. “
initially had no intention of going into medicine. She graduated from Yale
University with a bachelor of arts degree in literature. She spent most of her
college years pursuing extracurricular interests, including the school
newspaper, volunteering and hanging out with artists and writers.
“I thought I
would be a lawyer or a writer,” she says. When she began working on a startup
health care newsletter she realized “I didn’t even know where my liver was.”
between jobs and careers made sense to her until 9/11. “I was at work on the
balcony of the 13th floor watching the (World Trade Center)
towers fall ... I think we all took a
look at our lives at that point and asked ‘What am I doing that is useful? What
is my life about?’ ”
didn’t come easily. She considered teaching and film production.
“I was also
interested in science. So I went to talk to a mentor about a doctorate, and he
suggested medical school.
But at 31
years old, she thought she was too old.
“I spent the
early 2000s trying not to go to medical school. I finally enrolled when I was
medical school, she worked hard to help her classmates and the school. Kwon, a Gold
Humanism inductee, volunteered with the school’s curriculum steering committee
and was elected national chair of the AAMC Organization for Student
Representatives in 2015. To help first- and second-year students prepare for
Step 1, she organized a weekly quiz series at a pub near campus.
As for her
career, which she will start with a residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital, she decided a specialty in pathology was the answer, though it wasn’t
an easy decision.
is the basis of medicine, so it’s a pretty amazing career. It makes me sad that
I won’t be able to be a clinical preceptor, but pathology offers lots of
opportunities for teaching and mentoring.”