Sunday, September 18, 2016

With Summer winding down, we are proud to begin our GEMS Alumni Spotlight once again. This month we are pleased to highlight Dr. Katherine Potter, current Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at UofL & the Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Fellowship Director. Dr. Potter works in Pediatric Care Medicine at Kosair Children’s Hospital and graduated from UofL in 1997 with a Bachelors of Arts in Biology. Following undergrad, she stayed in the city of Louisville for medical school, residency, and fellowship. At her core, she is true Louisvillian.

            Dr. Potter remembers that one instance, which so many physicians experience at some point in their lives, when she knew that she wanted to pursue medicine. Science has always intrigued Dr. Potter and it was in the 7th grade when she had her “moment.” “My dad, a commercial banker, had a customer who was a butcher. After clearing it with my teacher, the butcher gave [her father] a cow’s heart to take to school when we were learning about the circulatory system. I took it to school on the bus – and it was heavy!” After thawing it for three days, the class was finally able to crowd around the heart and see first hand a heart and all its valves and chambers. While a simple day for other students, Dr. Potter still remembers the feeling of crowding around something so complex and learning how the organ worked. When Dr. Potter became a GEMS Scholar, she knew she had made the right choice of pursuing medicine.

            When matriculating from undergrad to medical school, Dr. Potter knew she wanted to stay a Cardinal. Dr. Potter realized that “medical school would be one of the most challenging task that [she] would tackle. UofL is a great school and had the added advantage of being near my family and support system.” The GEMS program helped her to explore the medical world that Louisville, and UofL School of Medicine, had to offer. That is not to say challenges didn’t exist; Dr. Potter remembers in medical school the one thing you have to learn is “survival training.” You are required to learn a massive amount of information, how to work in a team, and how to lead; this can be intimidating and challenging. However, it is all worth it as being a physician is one of the most rewarding careers and as Dr. Potter stated, “Looking back, it was a great adventure, and I’m so glad I did it.”

            Even today, medicine still teaches Dr. Potter many valuable life lessons that last with you as a person. She recalls that medicine taught her how to maintain compassion and kindness in all situations. When asked what is the most exciting part about her job today, she stated, “Everyday is different… the variety of diagnoses, the different procedures, the families.” All of these things made the challenge of medical school and residency worth it. Medicine is more than just diagnosing someone, at its foundation lies treating a person with compassion, respect, empathy, and support. Medicine is equal parts science with humanities. It is the crossover that makes pursing medicine the rewarding and exciting career it has become.

            That is Dr. Potter’s story; I ask you, what is yours? The application for the GEMS Program, and other UofL Scholarships, are now open and the deadline is December 15th. The GEMS program gives you a first-hand look at the breadth of medicine, from observations in the ER, Labor & Delivery, Surgery, and more to seminars on humanism in medicine to suture clinics and SimLabs, the experience you gain as a GEMS scholar is unparalleled. I urge you all to take the time to decide if medicine is your calling and apply for this wonderful opportunity.

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