Dr. Laura McGuire, MD ('99)
How did you get into philosophy?
Growing up, it didn’t seem others were all that interested in the existential questions that I spent time thinking about. I was so excited fall of freshman year to enroll in Metaphysics. It was my first Philosophy class, Hud was the professor, and I was hooked on philosophy from that point. Finally, I found people who were thinking and talking about important topics in a rational manner. I met some of my closest college friends in that class.
What have you been up to recently?
After college I went to medical school and then to Dartmouth for an OB/Gyn residency. I worked in private practice for a while and then for a multispecialty medical group where I became their Director of Ambulatory Medical Informatics. That group was bought by a multi-state health system where I worked both in Informatics implementing their new EMR, and as an OB Hospitalist. I then pursued my subspecialty board certification in Clinical Informatics.
These days however I am working solely as an OB Hospitalist, which is a shift-based hospital-only Obstetrician that functions essentially as an ER doc for labor and delivery. I spend my non-work time with my partner Nick and my furry children, doing Pilates, batch cooking, reading recipes and dreaming of writing cookbooks.
How do you think your background in philosophy helped prepare you for the kind of work you are doing now?
Using language to persuade others to a conclusion is a fantastic life skill. I often found myself speaking in a modified “premises and conclusion” format while working with our Informatics team. Being able to speak efficiently and fairly about an issue while proposing a sound solution propels you toward leadership whether you have the associated job title or not.
I also think Philosophy really helped me with the Clinical Informatics exam. I’d never taken a computer class. (For context, during college I wrote papers on paper initially then later using a word processor, and Western didn’t even assign students email addresses until my junior or senior year…!). But for my written subspecialty board certification exam, I needed to know the basics of various types of computer programing. I had several study guides, but I also pulled out my old symbolic logic textbook and found that helpful with learning programming forms.
What advice would you give other students considering philosophy as a field of study?
If you love Philosophy then go for it! I’ve never regretted choosing Philosophy as my degree (although it did make med school year one much harder for me than it was for my peers who were science majors!). Be realistic about your future employment options and diversify your Philosophy degree with another degree. You may not end up working as a Philosophy professor; however, the skills you learn in analysis and language will serve you well in whatever career you choose.