Krystina Quow


Hometown: Irvington, NJ

Name of Undergraduate Institution: Duke University

Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Psychology Major/Chemistry and Biology Minors

Name of Medical School: Duke University School of Medicine

Residency ProgramInternal Medicine Preliminary Year at UNC followed by Dermatology Residency at Duke

Favorite Quote: “Fatigue makes a coward of all of us.” – Vince Lombardi


Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?

I am a 4th year medical student at Duke and will be starting my intern year at UNC this fall, after which I will return to Duke for my Dermatology residency. I became interested in Dermatology because of the intersection of immunology, infectious disease, and oncology, highlighting that the skin is often the first indicator of systemic disease. With my specific interests in the dermatologic manifestations of complex disease pathology in skin of color, I hope to aid those in underserved areas in need of dermatologic care so that it is affordable, timely, and improves quality of life in the future. Throughout medical school, I was very aware of the disparities I saw in not only the teaching of dermatology but also in the patient population. It is unfortunate that pathology on skin of color is primarily depicted when discussing sexually transmitted infections while acne and hyperpigmentation is seen on lighter skin tones.

If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell her?

Have fun! I would tell my naïve freshman self to work hard but to enjoy your carefree years. Medical school and residency are hard so any time spent enjoying new experiences is well worth it. I also wish I had realized earlier that your major doesn’t matter for medical school applications. Choose a major that makes you happy and that you have genuine interest in (just remember those pre-med requirements).

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?

There aren’t many minorities in dermatology, unfortunately, but NEVER let being the only one keep you from your desired career path.

What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?

I think my biggest challenge was being the first in my family. As a first generation American, college student, and now medical student, it’s hard knowing what the next steps are. I learned that having great mentors in your corner is important as they can guide you along the right path. My family has been my greatest advocates and cheerleaders and I also wouldn’t be where I am without their support.

What is your favorite thing about your medical school?

My favorite thing is the relationships that you form. I truly feel that my core group of friends are people who will remain in my life forever.

What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to medical schools?

Don’t put anything on your application that you’re not prepared to talk about in an interview! There were obscure things I added to my application and somehow those were always the aspects they asked about first.

Did you take some time off before medical school? If so, what did you do during that time?

I took one year off between college and medical school where I completed basic science research. Research was an area on my application that was lacking and it allowed me to gain both these research skills and an additional letter of recommendation.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to eat so trying new restaurants is one of my favorite things to do when I go to a new city.

What do you feel is the most challenging part of medical school? The easiest part?

The most challenging part is the volume of information you have to retain in the short amount of time you have. I had to learn new study habits when I started med school to help me absorb it all. The easiest part for me has been talking to patients. I like to say I come from a “family of talkers”, so making connections with strangers has been one of my strengths.

What did you do during the summer before you started medical school?

I slept! Honestly, travel if you can. Medical school is rigorous so any time you can take for yourself before you start to build your resilience is well worth it.

What is it like attending school in your city?

Durham, NC isn’t a large city. There are a lot of things to do in Durham and we are considered a “foodie city” with a lot of museums, art, and culture. But if you’re someone who likes to study at a coffee shop at 1am or want greater food options at 3AM than Waffle House and Cookout, this may not be the town for you.

This is excellent Krystina! Thank you so much for your quality responses and for the great advice that you have shared with us! Some of the things that you said definitely hit home for me, as I'm sure they will for some of the other people who will read this! Huge congrats to you on finishing medical school and best of luck to you as you continue to grow throughout your residency program!

Health Career Spotlights Home Page

Posted on May 12th, 2018

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