Graduate Spotlight - Dr. Laura Alder

Dr. AlderClass of 2020
Current Role:  Hematology-Oncology Fellow @ Duke University

I grew up in Chicago, IL until high school when we moved to Raleigh, NC and then went to college at UNC Chapel Hill.  I went to medical school at UQ-Ochsner (two years at University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia and last two years in New Orleans at Ochsner).  I knew I wanted to travel before medical school started so I volunteered in Tanzania, Africa and then explored Russia, and other parts of Europe and Asia.

I’ve immensely enjoyed working with my colleagues and friends at VCU during residency. Medicine, especially residency, can be hard and tedious, but it is so much better when working with joyous, funny, passionate people.  The faculty members are approachable, compassionate, and hard-working while also laid-back with a great sense of humor. You feel confident at the end of residency that you are well equipped as an internist. It’s a happy, close knit program that makes for an incredible work environment.

I knew I wanted to go into Hematology, so when I arrived at VCU, I created contacts and started thinking about research projects. The faculty and fellows were very supportive. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a variety of Heme/Onc mentors who have helped me present and publish a variety of projects. I worked with Dr. Hackney and Dr. Bear on a project involving racial disparities in the utilization of gene expression testing (such as Oncotype Dx) at VCU. We then compared how we do as an institution to the state of Virginia and nationally. I got to present this project at ASCO Quality Symposium.

Lastly, Richmond is a wonderful city – big enough to have a lot of things always going on, but small enough to be easily navigable and affordable. It is exceedingly outdoorsy – there are so many great running/hiking/biking trails. The James River is one of my favorite aspects of the city. The food and drink scene is also incredible – so many great restaurants and breweries. I’m vegetarian and have been really pleased by the diversity and quality of the food, as well as the price point. All in all, it’s been an incredible place to call home for the past three years.