William Kanner is a pathology resident at the University of Virginia Hospital.
William graduated from W&L in 2000 with a B.S. degree in Physics.
“The flexibility and encouragement of the faculty at W&L and especially in the Dept of Physics and Engineering stand out most. As a student who would change his mind about career choices and paths often, I really appreciated the guidance as well as patience from all faculty members.
Although I was ‘pre-med,’ my focus was in Physics, and I saw my undergraduate experience as a time to really pursue this interest before a career in medicine. My physics experience prepared me well for the MCAT, and it also afforded me a level of respect from those who interviewed me for medical school and residency.
After graduating from W&L, I took two years off before medical school. My idea was to avoid burn out and to embark on life experiences that I may not have time for again. I spent the first year on a Fulbright grant to India (Biometrics research), and after returning, I worked in a Cardiology lab at Emory University. My close work with the faculty really made the Fulbright grant a reality for me, and the research experience I had as an undergraduate with Dr. Williams and Dr. Reese prepared me for my work in India.
Reflecting on my experience as a Physics major and now working as a resident in pathology, what is most important and emphasized in Physics is not route memorization but understanding of concepts and applying them. In medicine we must do a lot of memorizing, but one must never lose track of the concepts and the understanding of the big picture. For example, interns commonly deal with congestive heart failure patients in the hospital. One can memorize all the signs, symptoms, labs and treatment for such patients, but if you understand what is actually occurring at a pathophysiologic level, you can derive many of the aforementioned features. In pathology, we focus a lot on pattern recognition for diagnoses, but what is even more important is the understanding of some very basic concepts when deciding whether something is malignant or benign.”