Spotlight on Social Sciences and Natural Sciences Alumni: Beth Emerson

emersonName: Beth Emerson ’02
Occupation:  Assistant Professor in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital
Education (UR and additional): BA/BS University of Rochester 2002 (psychology/molecular genetics), MD University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry 2006, Resident/Chief Resident in Pediatrics at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital 2006-2010, Fellow in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital 2010-2013
Current city/state of residence: Madison, CT
Family: Husband Charles (also a Rochester alum!), son William and son Jacob
Community activities: volunteer with health-professions interested students in a local high school

When and how did you choose your major?

I, like many other students, chose to pursue two majors.  I got interested in psychology and biology through classes I took in high school, and developed my interest further through classes as a freshman at Rochester.  I started classes for my psychology major immediately, and began to narrow my interest in the biological sciences at the same time.  Ultimately, I chose to pursue a second major in molecular genetics.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was involved with the Community Service Network, and was part of the first class of students to live in the Community Learning Center.  This gave me a very unique perspective on the role that undergraduate students can play in the Rochester community.  I was also involved in the Psychology Undergraduate Council, which allowed me to be more actively involved in departmental functions and to see the variety of opportunities available to a psychology major.  I served also as business manager for the Interpres yearbook, and had the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant and research assistant.

What did you do immediately after graduation?  How did you decide to take that path?

Right after graduation I began my first year as a medical student at Rochester.  Medicine, for me, is a natural progression of my interests in service and biomedical science.  I was particularly excited to learn in the “biopsychosocial” model of curriculum developed at Rochester, to focus on the intersection of my interests from my undergraduate studies as they affect the individual and their health.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am currently a fellow in pediatric emergency medicine at Yale, following my training in pediatrics.  Pediatric emergency medicine gives me a unique opportunity in medicine to be at the front lines of diagnosis and resuscitation, and working in an academic setting affords me the ability to be a continuous learner and teacher.  

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

Probably the approach to life-long learning by asking questions and thinking critically, emphasized in both of my fields of studies, has served me the best.  I had the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant in both areas, which has been very helpful for me as I work with medical students and residents.  My research project, evaluating postpartum depression in our emergency department, also brings together some of the lessons I have learned along the way.