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Dr. Kristina Krohn's initial interest in practicing medicine
internationally stemmed from her parents' work with the Peace Corps
in Africa. As a child, Dr. Krohn was always interested in math and
science. She jokes that when she was ten years old she wanted "to
be a surgeon in sub-Saharan Africa." Dr. Krohn was born and raised
in Minnesota, in a small town of around 12,000 residents. She
attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota where she
received her Bachelor's Degree in biology. While attending
Macalester College, she met several friends who were applying to
medical school and many who were in their residencies. "They told
me to make sure that going into medicine was exactly what I wanted
to do, because otherwise I would be unhappy with the time and
commitment it takes to become a physician. It was one of those
things where there was nothing else besides medicine that I could
imagine myself doing that would make me happy." She felt that
becoming a physician was the perfect combination of getting the
chance to interact with people on a daily basis and applying her
love of science.
Dr. Krohn with her nephew Jaxton and her fiancé
While attending the University of Minnesota Medical School, Dr.
Krohn had a difficult time choosing between family medicine,
internal medicine and pediatrics, as well as emergency medicine,
but eventually decided on combined internal medicine and pediatrics
(med/peds). "I knew that I wanted to see a range of people, not
just adults or children. I wanted to be able to see whatever
patient walked through the door. The internal medicine/pediatrics
program was structured so that I was able to see a patient from
their initial diagnosis all the way through his or her
Dr. Krohn's choice to pursue internal medicine and pediatrics
was also driven by her desire to practice medicine internationally.
Her parents experience in the Peace Corps was something that was
always in the back of her mind. "When you are practicing medicine
in a rural Africa, it is so much different than practicing in a
large metro area in the US." She was drawn to the idea of providing
medicine for people who would not otherwise have access. "I think
being able to fill that gap is really rewarding."
Dr. Krohn took advantage of the University of Minnesota's "Flex
MD" program which allows students to finish their degree in as
little as three years or as many as six while only paying for four
years of medical school. She completed her final year of medical
school in two years which allowed her to study and work in both
Uganda and Brazil through a scholarship program. Working in Uganda
led her to choose internal medicine and pediatrics, since 50
percent of the population was under the age of twelve. "I could see
that being able to treat both adults and children was a huge help."
What Dr. Krohn enjoys most about international medicine is the
larger picture perspective that it requires. "It is different than
going into a country and seeing as many patients as possible in the
period of the week. Instead, it means traveling to a country and
investing time there and saying 'what can I do here that is going
to be sustainable and make an impact for that country's
While in Uganda, Dr. Krohn worked with researchers on
understanding the fungal infection Cryptococcus, a disease that
affects individuals with compromised immune systems (i.e. people
with AIDS). Cryptococcus is one of the major causes of death in
sub-Saharan Africa. She had the opportunity to work with a medical
group searching for the source of the fungus that caused the
infection. The clinical trial has made several advances and
continues at this time.
Dr. Krohn also had the opportunity to work in Brazil while in
her residency. She did an infectious disease rotation at Hospital
Nossa Senhora das Gracas in Curitiba, Brazil. She was the first
medical student doing a visiting rotation from the United
Dr. Krohn has continued to follow her passion of internal
medicine and interest in public health when she was selected as the
2012-2013 fellow for the Stanford University -NBC News Fellowship
in Media and Global Health. She was encouraged to apply for the
highly selective fellowship program by her medical advisor.
Stanford University's Center for Innovation in Global Health
launched the first fellowship in Media and Global Health to
demonstrate how media platforms have an impact on global health.
Dr. Krohn was chosen from a selective pool of
physicians-in-training and physicians committed to a career in
global health. During the course of her fellowship, she will learn
how multiple media modalities can play a significant role in health
and human rights efforts, foundation and government health
assistance, and individual health choices. She will spend the first
few months of fellowship working in the World Health Organization
(WHO)'s Communications Department in the organization's South East
Asia Regional Office in Delhi, India. "A lot of what I will be
doing in my fellowship is learning how the WHO crafts its messages
and how the public absorbs and processes public health
information." Dr. Krohn will spend another month at the WHO's
Communications Department in Geneva, Switzerland. She will then
participate in "journalism boot camp" by attending courses at
Stanford University's School of Journalism. In the spring of 2013,
she will be working at the NBC News headquarters with the Today
Show, Dateline, and the Nightly News.
Dr. Krohn plans on keeping her options open after completing her
fellowship and residency but would ideally like to pursue a
fellowship with the Center for Disease Control's Epidemiology
Intelligence Service which would combine her interest in how the
public learns about medicine with the clinical aspects of
practicing medicine. In her spare time, Dr. Krohn and her
fiancé enjoy ballroom dancing and rock climbing.
Dr. Krohn will be blogging about her experiences in her
fellowship on her blog
as well on Twitter @GlobalthealthDR.
July 2012 Issue of IMpact
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