Dora Lin: Curated Curiosity For Changes In Health Care

An unabashed curiosity of the ways of the world and the people within it has kept Dora Lin broadminded in her approaches and efforts to make an impact in the communities she is a part of.

Growing up in Maryland and being the eldest of three siblings, Dora has been helping take care of others since a young age. While completing her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Chicago, Dora became involved in several organizations. These organizations were aimed at gaining a better understanding of the variety of experiences and circumstances in people’s lives and creating a community around them as a source of support. She was a patient advocate for Health Leads, an organization that aims to connect patients with housing, food, transportation and counseling help. As part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Dora helped organize a homeless outreach program for which the group would, biannually, prepare care packages and distribute them to the homeless community in Chicago while taking the time to sit and have a conversation with them and offer friendship. She co-founded UCHOMP – University of Chicago Health of the Mind Project – a student organization that would be a support community for those struggling with their mental health. During this time, she also participated in an extensive research study on antidepressants. She was involved in an international student outreach, which helped international students better integrate into the University of Chicago community. Finally, she taught elementary school children science concepts. This highly varied set of experiences helped Dora realize her passion for health disparities and medicine.

After graduating from the University of Chicago, Dora returned to Maryland and attended the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health to earn her master’s degree in reproductive and cancer biology and a certificate in health disparities and health inequalities.  Because she knew she was incredibly interested in health disparities, this program enabled her to further explore that topic through her research in pharmacoepidemiology. Her group’s research specifically focused on understanding how prescription drugs are being prescribed and administered in the country, the healthcare costs behind these drugs, and the guidelines set up by the CDC for prescription opioids, among other topics. She developed such a deep interest and passion for understanding how healthcare science and policy are combined that she stayed with the research group for four years.

Dora Lin, Carle Illinois College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Dora with her Johns Hopkins research group.

Additionally, she has applied her knowledge to help people gain access to health care and understand the application process by acting as a state-certified insurance application counselor. In this role, she assisted patients without health care insurance to sign up for programs such as Medicaid. From these experiences, Dora knew that healthcare policy and health disparities were topics of interest that she would want to continue to explore in her career.

Although not from an engineering background, Dora’s unique perspective and interest in a niche field made her an excellent addition to the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. On being accepted, she said, “I knew Carle Illinois was the perfect program for me because going into college, I was interested in engineering but didn’t get to explore it. Seeing as the future of health care is really moving toward ramping up using technology to advance medicine, I’m very interested.” Carle Illinois was her first choice, and Dora recalls being giddy with excitement as she drove back to her parents’ house to view her admittance package.

Now, being a student, Dora says she feels excited and grateful to be here. Some of her favorite parts of her Carle Illinois experience so far have been the relationships she shares with her classmates and her experiences in the clinic. Dora says she’s grateful for her experience in the clinic because “being able to care for patients clinically is very rewarding. Furthermore, I enjoy the intellectual stimulation as part of being in medicine. It’s problem-solving in a way that is new and fun.”

“I enjoy the intellectual stimulation as part of being in medicine. It’s problem-solving in a way that is new and fun.”

She says her classmates have enhanced her experience because so many of them are engineers, and they are always willing to collaborate with her and help her better understand engineering concepts. Additionally, she enjoys spending time with her classmates outside of the classroom, including events such as going skiing at a nearby ski resort.

In addition to all the responsibilities that come with being a medical student, Dora continues to be involved in health policy and health disparities by acting as a student delegate for Carle Illinois to the American Medical Association, for which she is involved in conversations about health policy and even sits on the Committee on Economics and Quality in Medicine. While she’s still exploring the various paths she could take after graduating from medical school, she knows she wants to continue work in some way with addressing health policy and health disparities.  

Curated curiosity for change in health care

Dora looks up to her former principal investigator, G. Caleb Alexander, a practicing internist and her research mentor from graduate school, as a role model because of his scientific approach to medicine and because of his guidance throughout her research. She’s modeled her vision of a successful physician after this and says that she strives to be a physician who practices medicine with an evidence-based approach while staying compassionate to those in her care. She expands on this by saying that she hopes to be a physician who is aware of changes, politically and economically, that occur in the country and applying that to think holistically about the care she provides for patients. Dora believes that a competent doctor is one who is broadminded and provides practical care by considering factors such as insurance, affordability, home situation, and healthcare policy in formulating a comprehensive and realistic care plan for patients. Dora’s opportunities after graduating from Carle Illinois are sure to be vast because for her innate curiosity and passion which motivate her to work diligently and make an impact.

The generosity of people like you made it possible for Dora and her classmates to attend Carle Illinois with scholarships.