Ilana Yurkiewicz

“I was hooked on Stanford since my interview day. I love being surrounded by people who are curious, interested, and interesting.”

Ilana Yurkiewicz (L) is in her second year of residency
Photo by Norbert von der Groeben

Ilana Yurkiewicz, MD, is in her second year of Internal Medicine residency. While she hasn’t yet decided on her specialty post-residency, she is leaning toward either primary care or hematology-oncology. In describing her daily schedule, she says “I take care of patients as well as I possibly can, learn something, and enjoy it.”

Ilana came to Stanford by way of Yale and Harvard with time off in between to pursue her talent for science writing. She got her start in writing as an undergraduate at Yale, and then received an AAAS Mass Media Fellowship which took her to North Carolina to work as a science and health reporter. After a year doing clinical research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, and an internship with the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, she attended medical school at Harvard, contributing a blog column to Scientific American that described the thoughts and experiences of a medical trainee. Blog writing became a larger part of Ilana’s life when she became a regular contributor to the Scientific American Blog Network, writing over 50 pieces and garnering more than 350,000 readers.

Coming to Stanford for her clinical training has been her first venture to the West Coast and, she says, “I was hooked on Stanford since my interview day. I love being surrounded by people who are curious, interested, and interesting.”

It was during what might have been a personal tragedy that Ilana discovered how important Stanford had become in her life. When her father became critically ill, she took leave from her intern year to spend a month by his bedside in an ICU, contacting her mentors and friends at Stanford for support. She was overwhelmed by the response. “I was destroyed,” she says, “but I was not alone. My friends at Stanford helped me through the worst days of my life from 3,000 miles away. My dad is fortunately recovered now, thanks in part to their advice and support. When I think about what kind of doctor I want to be – I think, if I could be a fraction as good as these doctors, I’ll be OK.”   

Ilana is aware that she works best in atmospheres of collaboration, and she is delighted by how pervasive that spirit is at Stanford. “I saw Stanford as a place with a positive and progressive culture and enormous opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. Those were pretty high expectations coming in; and since I’ve been here, Stanford met them all and then some.”