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Meet Leah Laageide

Date: Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Leah Laageide, portraitHometowns: Okoboji, Iowa and Oslo, Norway
Residency Match: Des Moines Medicine–Preliminary
Specialty: Internal Medicine

How did you choose your specialty?

Internal medicine spans the entire spectrum of clinical care. Internists diagnose and manage common conditions as well as complex medical illnesses. Because of the broad nature of the field, it also requires keeping up to date on new scientific knowledge and clinical diagnostics. I found myself really enjoying these aspects during my inpatient rotations. Internal medicine has also been integral to my research involvements.  

Side note (or “curbside”): To stay up to date, I love listening to the “The Curbsiders” internal medicine podcast.

What experiences outside the curriculum greatly enhance your medical education?

Well, I came to the Carver College of Medicine because I could tell in my interviews that the students here were super happy and made special note of their ability to balance work and life at Carver. That being said, the Carver College of Medicine was a whirlwind of fun and stressful challenges. To help my sanity, I loved taking advantage of the running paths in Iowa City and the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.

Involvement in community projects and organizations also served as a way for me to decompress. I am a huge fan of UI STEM as well as the Iowa City Free Medical Clinics. They were awesome organizations to work with. They allowed me to work with people of all ages and ethnicities while doing something I love. I also have to give a shout out to the Iowa Cancer Consortium, who are supporting a “free sunscreen” project for Johnson County that I am pursuing in collaboration with Emily Weig, MD, and the Department of Dermatology.

Who was especially helpful in guiding and mentoring you? 

Each year of medical school presents its own challenges. That being said, I am thankful for the mentorship I received from so many different people throughout medical school—Carver staff, attendings, residents, and colleagues. On my interview day, I was really attracted to the community atmosphere that Carver emphasizes, but I didn’t fully understand what it meant until I was immersed in the experience and witnessed firsthand the grand support network that Carver has to offer. Research has also been an integral part of my medical education, and I cannot thank doctors Kelly Messingham, PhD, and Jennifer Powers, MD, for their continual mentorship.

What was the most rewarding part of your Carver College of Medicine experience? 

Making lifelong friendships and reflecting together on the amount of information we have digested, the knowledge and experiences we’ve had, and how insanely cool (but stressful) the whole medical school process is. I feel really lucky to be where I am in life.

Share one memory that sticks out from your time as a student at the UI Carver College of Medicine.

A memory that stuck with me throughout medical school was a statement made by my Bean Community Leader during M1-year. She said, “You can really do anything here at Carver, you just have to ask.” I definitely took that principle to heart and never hesitated to ask an attending physician, principal investigator, or community leader if I could be involved in their work.

What advice or words of encouragement would you give to incoming medical students?

As above, I would encourage every student not to be afraid to explore new opportunities. At Carver and UI Hospitals & Clinics, everyone—whether it’s the chair of a department or a researcher—is genuinely supportive and down to earth. Doors only open if you take some initiative.

Do not compare yourself to other students. In any academic environment, stress is inevitable, and humans have a tendency to compare themselves to others. However, what you see with someone projecting (e.g., tons of confidence) may not be what that person is feeling on the inside (e.g., insecurity). Rather, focus on your own goals, and always remember you’re accomplishing so much in medical school every day—you’ll realize that in your fourth year.