Rebecca Mullan, MD, PGY3

I was born in Perth, Western Australia (home of Barry Marshall and the most beautiful beaches in the world), and lived there until I was 12. My family and I then moved to Rochester, Minnesota (where I was told that there were beaches. There are not). I did my undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal, where I fell in love with the city. Then it was on to the University of Edinburgh for a Master’s in Public Health. (Edinburgh is another fantastic city — I lived two minutes from a castle.)

Rebecca (front row, far right), with her KER work team at the Mayo Clinic

I applied to medical school in 2004, but didn’t get in at that time. So instead I worked at the Mayo Clinic, first in the department of epidemiology and then as a study coordinator and systematic reviewer for the Knowledge and Evaluation Research (KER) Unit, which focused on patient-physician communication. I loved my work, but after five years I knew it was time to reapply to medical school — and this time I was accepted. I graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine in 2015, and am now in my second year of residency at UVA.

Rebecca and niece Tabitha

Why medicine?

I can’t imagine doing anything else (I truly tried for the five years that I worked as a study coordinator). I love understanding the science of medicine and using it to help patients, but my passion in medicine is the conversations you have with patients. I loved researching that topic (physician-patient communication) as a study coordinator, and it is now the part of my job that I most enjoy, and that really stays with me.

Why UVA?

UVA was my last interview and I wasn’t expecting it to change my interview rank list greatly (I had interviewed mostly at programs in the Midwest). The first thing I noticed here was how friendly and welcoming the residents were, and how comfortable I felt at the applicant dinner. This impression continued through the interview day itself, including my interviews with Dr. Wolf and Dr. Bargmann. I knew that at UVA I would get excellent clinical training with great research opportunities — but most importantly, it would be in a supportive environment with awesome people.

Proudest achievement outside the professional realm?

I am a beyond-proud auntie to my sister’s daughter, Tabitha, who is 18 months. I’m pretty sure my whole residency class has seen photos of her.

Rebecca (far right) with her family.

Where did you go on your last vacation?

To Washington, DC, to visit Tabitha (and my sister and her wife), and then back to Minnesota to see my parents and aunts visiting from Australia. It was wonderful.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I would either learn to surf or to do something artistic — draw, paint, play a musical instrument. About the craftiest thing I do right now is needlepoint. I have multiple, not-quite-finished scarves from attempts at knitting.

What’s one thing you always have in your fridge?


Words to live by?

I have to quote the great Leslie Knope [Amy Poehler’s character on the show “Parks & Recreation”]:
“Teddy Roosevelt once said, ‘Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is a chance to work hard at work worth doing.’ And I would add that what makes work worth doing is getting to do it with people that you love.”

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