New Faces of Healthcare: Med Student Allie Williams

Our New Faces of Healthcare series focuses on the lives and goals of different healthcare professionals across multiple fields. Each person is unique, intelligent, and driven to succeed in one of the U.S.’s fastest growing industries. Read on for a look into the unpredictable and ever-changing lives of healthcare’s best people.

Allie Williams has always wanted to be a doctor.

In fact, she was only two years old when she started telling people she wanted to work in medicine. During middle and high school, Allie started to think seriously about what actually going to medical school might look like, and by the time she was in college she was actively pursuing opportunities related to medicine to confirm her decision.

However, rather than going straight to medical school, Allie decided to work in research for a few years, just to make sure she hadn’t changed her mind. “For me, research really confirmed that I wanted to pursue a clinical career and be around people,” she says.

Now a full-time student at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Allie is getting her wish.

“Normally, med school is two years of pre-clinical work and then two years of clinical work before you do your residency, but Vanderbilt does things differently,” she says, explaining that her school lets students finish their pre-clinical work in twelve months, so they have more time to work hands-on with patients and figure out what specialty they want to pursue.

“We do one- or two-month rotations of all the big realms of medicine,” Allie adds. “I just did surgery — four different kinds — and now I’m working in children and adolescent psychiatry. It’s hard to teach things like surgery in a lecture hall, so getting more hands on experience really prepares you to know what you want to do.”

Since Allie is currently in her second year, she still has time to decide a specialty, and in third and fourth year she’ll be able to select more electives in that area.

Currently, Allie’s schedule is much calmer than when she worked surgery, since she frequently had to arrive at 4:30 AM. Now, she heads to the hospital at eight and starts with rotations. She and her team visit every patient, talking to them and seeing if any changes need to be made to their treatment plan. “It’s different working with kids instead of adults,” she says. “A lot of the things with kids you can’t diagnose — a lot of their issues are related to trauma, like things will be bad at home, or they have anxiety or eating disorders.”

Following these rounds, Allie spends her days calling family members or having meetings, since there’s typically more family involvement when working with children. “Our goal is to do what we need to in order to get our patients discharged and back to their normal life. With the kids, it’s cool to see how they turn things around when we have the resources in place to help them,” she says.

In the future, Allie is hoping to pursue cardiology, although she admits she’s really enjoying the child and adolescent psychiatry. She’s planning to stay in Nashville and would like to eventually pursue teaching. She adds, “I’m in it for the interactions, hearing people’s stories and improving whatever issues they’re having. I’ve always thought ‘that’s why I’m here.’”

We know that with great people like Allie, the future of healthcare already looks brighter. Although it can be tough to navigate the challenges of becoming a doctor, including school, salary, and more, we’re excited to see how her job will have an impact on this important industry and on the people she’ll help.

Know anyone who'd like to be featured in this series? Leave a comment below!

Molly Powers