Aspect of a Learner - Emilee Gibson
Bloomington-Normal native and fourth-year medical student Emilee Gibson is a force. The Class of 2023 president, medical student representative to the Illinois State Medical Society’s Government Affairs Council, and future OB-GYN is advocating for women on a personal level as well as at local, state and national levels.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EDUCATION PRIOR TO SIU.
I attended the University of Iowa and earned a Bachelor of Science in human physiology with minors in global health and Spanish. I loved my time in Iowa City cheering on the Hawkeyes and studying a wide variety of topics. I especially enjoyed the classes I took for my global health minor, learning about foreign aid and sustainable development. Iowa City will always hold a special place in my heart.
PRIOR TO STARTING YOUR MEDICAL EDUCATION, WHAT WERE YOU DOING?
I took two years off between my undergraduate studies and medical school. During this time, I worked as a research assistant in the neurology department at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. I helped coordinate more than 20 clinical trials, including studies looking at aneurysm treatments, multiple sclerosis, ALS and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease to name a few. I loved my job and working with patients.
Another thing I was heavily involved with during my gap years was being the lead advocate for the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Campaign for Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska. This campaign aims to increase access to vaccines around the globe. In this role, I lobbied state and federal lawmakers to increase federal funding for global vaccine programs and met with members of Congress and their staff with the UN Foundation. Through this experience, I found a passion for health policy and health care legislation. I even went to Uganda with the UN Foundation to observe its vaccine program and meet with health officials there. I’m still involved, but on a lesser scale since I’ve been busy with medical school.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH INTERESTS.
I am currently working with Dr. [Jongjin] Martin in the SIU OB-GYN department on an IDPH-sponsored project to look at breastfeeding disparities in Sangamon County. We are working to improve breastfeeding initiation rates by increasing education and follow-up on breastfeeding support for new mothers. I’m really interested in exploring different health disparities in OB-GYN and looking at how they affect access to care, contraception, birthing support, and breastfeeding.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT THE PROGRAM AND YOUR CAREER PATH?
One thing I really love about OB-GYN is that it gives me the opportunity to empower women through all stages of their life and health. I’m excited to be able to perform surgeries, practice different procedures and form relationships with patients. I was also drawn to OB-GYN because it not only combines all aspects of medicine that I love, but it also has ample areas to work in the space of health policy. I am passionate about health policy and believe physicians should be involved in writing policy and legislation that improves the lives of patients. Whether it is maternal mortality rates, contraception access, breastfeeding support or the HPV vaccine, OB-GYN has so many areas that need a strong advocate and hopefully to fill that role one day.
I am excited and passionate about the intersection of health care and the law. I want to be very involved in health care policy as a future OB-GYN and use my experiences with patients and health care systems to help write laws and policies that better serve patients and providers, working with organizations like the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and government agencies. I hope to eventually end up in Washington, D.C. to do this work and might even consider running for elected office someday as well, who knows! I believe there is a great need and opportunity for physicians to get involved with health care policy and I’m excited to see where my career takes me.
WHAT MIGHT WE FIND YOU DOING OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL?
Outside of school, I spend a lot of time with my friends. We have a very close group of about 12 friends who have really become like a second family throughout our time in medical school. We go to the gym together, plan theme parties, have game nights, watch sports, and even plan trips together. I also really enjoy taking care of all of my plants; I’m up to 14 plants in my apartment. My favorite are my orchids! I also enjoy walking around the farmers market during the summer months and hanging out in the local coffee shops in downtown Springfield.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXTRACURRICULARS.
I am the Class of 2023 president, so I am involved with student assembly and planning events for the school/class. I’m also president of the Health Policy Interest Group, where I organize students to talk about policy issues, and OB-GYN interest group, where I help set up skills labs (such as birth simulations) and help coordinate volunteer events with the local domestic violence shelter. Additionally, I am involved with the Sangamon County Medical Society and Illinois State Medical Society. I am the sole medical student representative to the state medical society Government Affairs Council, where I vote on resolutions and stay up-to-date on current legislation that might affect the practice of medicine in Illinois.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY.
I am the daughter of Mark and Kathy Gibson, both still in Bloomington. My dad is a professor of marketing at Illinois State University and my mom is an aide to elementary school kids with special needs. I have one younger brother, John, who works on the business side for the Chicago Cubs. We are a big baseball family, and I have been a die-hard Cubs fan my whole life!
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE?
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn't be that women are the exception.” — Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
I have long admired RBG for how she tactfully and cleverly fought for gender equality in the courts. RBG was one of only a few women in law school and went on to fight sexist precedents in the law - that inspires me to speak up in rooms where I am the only woman. Her career has empowered me and helped ignite my passion to empower my patients as well.