Lauren Messinger Furman University Alumni

Lauren Messinger '06

— Obstetrician-Gynecologist, Foxhall Obstetrics and Gynecology

“It is important to be interested and a life-long learner. Medicine demands one to be curious yet focused and eager to learn more while being confident in one’s ability to treat patients. To satisfy my medical interests and desire for continuous education, I joined several professional organizations during my years in medical school and residency.”


Personal/Professional Journey

How did you find your way to where you are today? Share a little about your professional journey.

I was inspired by my female pediatrician, and I knew from a young age that medicine interested me and that being a doctor would be both a challenging and rewarding career.

At Furman I studied pre-med, shadowed physicians during summer breaks and participated in basic research to make me a competitive candidate when applying to medical school. Balance and perspective are important, so instead of going right from Furman to medical school I spent two years at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the Cancer Research Training Award program broadening my view of medicine. In addition to conducting research, I experienced the human side of medicine by volunteering at The Children’s Inn, a home away from home for families with children being treated at the NIH.

These collective experiences, from home to Furman to the NIH, prepared me for medical school at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, Virginia. During my clinical rotations at VCU I gravitated towards a specialty that allowed for both surgical experiences and patient interactions – obstetrics and gynecology. From medical school I completed my residency in Indianapolis and am now in private practice in Washington, DC.
What inspires you?

I am inspired by the passion, determination and will to succeed of both the people I work with and care for. My professional colleagues provide support, mentorship and guidance to help me be a better physician every day. My patients welcome me into their lives at their most vulnerable moments and trust me to provide the best possible care for them. The trust my colleagues and patients place in me helps me make a difference and motivates me to do more the next day.

Within the field

When providing advice for professional development, what are some tools or resources one should consider?

It is important to be interested and a life-long learner. Medicine demands one to be curious yet focused and eager to learn more while being confident in one’s ability to treat patients. To satisfy my medical interests and desire for continuous education, I joined several professional organizations during my years in medical school and residency. These professional organizations, such as the American Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, offer educational resources and professional development tools to help guide one through medical school, residency and beyond. Reviewing the websites of these organizations, even as an undergrad, will provide a valuable snapshot into how you may want to approach a career in medicine.

Be organized and develop a work process that works for you. Keeping checklists, maintaining a calendar and leaving time at the end of the day to review what you accomplished today and what should be prioritized for tomorrow can be helpful ways for managing time – and minimizing how overwhelmed you feel. In private practice, I do these three things daily to make sure I finish charting, update patient EMRs, review labs, and return calls to patients.
How would you recommend someone interested in the same career/vocation pursue a similar path?

Experiences, inside and outside the classroom, inform how you will approach medicine. Medicine is not all about the science. As an undergrad, consider majoring in something other than a traditional science. You will still need to take the appropriate science courses, but this is the perfect opportunity to study something that interests you and make you a more well-rounded physician down the road.

As an undergrad, shadowing physicians, volunteering at hospitals or free clinics, and talking with those currently in the field provide a range of experiences to answer your questions and build your overall understanding about what it will take to become a physician.

Before medical school, consider taking a gap year. This year (or two) allows for personal growth and development prior to entering medical school. I am certain my two years at the NIH gave me a better perspective going into medical school.

And most importantly, you must network. The medical community is smaller than you realize, so reaching out and staying connected with classmates, residents, fellows, attendings, and others will help across the board from job searches to patient referrals.

How have mentors impacted your professional development? How did you develop those relationship?

Mentors should be people you respect and want to emulate. As a young physician, my mentors are those with a deep passion for medicine, polished diagnostic skills, and strong interpersonal skills that translate into a comforting, yet confident, bedside manner. Some mentors are seasoned attending physicians, while others are only 4-5 years older than me. With these individuals, I never asked “will you be my mentor,” but the relationships developed over shared patients and medical experiences. Mentors will be valuable guides throughout your medical training and career as these relationships provide outlets for professional and personal growth. Be open to mentors, stay in touch with them, and cultivate those relationships for the long term.

For someone just getting started

What do you wish you would have known getting started in your field?

Becoming a doctor blends aptitude, emotional intelligence, inter-personal skills and compassion. It is not about the highest score on a test, but more about finding and maintaining a personal and professional balance that is right for you.
How could Furman help with getting someone started?

Furman’s pre-medical track helps you prepare for a career in healthcare and through engaged learning opportunities. Undergraduates receive early exposure through research and internships. Part of the key to success in medicine is early exposure and experience, which Furman certainly affords students.

Furman University

How has your liberal arts background shaped your career path or supported your success?

A liberal arts background helps produce well-rounded individuals who become well-rounded physicians. Once you start medical school, the primary focus is on science, physiology, and pathology. Undergrad is a perfect time to explore other fields, build a worldly perspective, and improve your ability to connect with people.
What are other courses you took or you wish you would have taken that would also add value in your career?

At Furman, I took a range of courses in sociology, psychology and philosophy – all helpful in making me a well-rounded physician. Of these areas, I wish I took more sociology courses as I found the study of human nature to be both interesting and meaningful to my career. Being a physician is part disease and treatments and part connecting with people. A good physician is knowledgeable but maintains an appropriate bedside manner to make a patient trust in their care.


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