Brown graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in 1995, but recently decided it was time to take a long, hard look at the law. She had wanted to explore the law for some time––especially what was going on in the health-care world. “I believe having a law background will help me to continue to advocate for my patients,” she says. “I had a mentor tell me that I am the keeper of my patient’s story. Every shift I advocate for each of my patients, and hopefully by lending my voice to the discussions on health care, I will continue to do so on a larger scale.”
Law school has not been without its challenges, especially balancing time between the ER and school. But Brown says she took a step back and focused on her productivity, canceled her cable, and filled gaps in the day with law school tasks. As an ER physician while in law school, she uses her problem-solving and time-management skills. She says there are times where she needs to explore every avenue when it comes to patients as well as clients. “I like the combination of following a certain procedure, but also following your sense of fairness, justice, and advocacy for the person sitting in front of you,” she says.
Brown says her love of problem solving has helped her as a doctor and as a law student. “In the ER you have to choose the important elements of a patient’s history and physical exam and act on them,” she says. “Similarly, in law school you have to dissect the cases to their applicable elements and apply the appropriate rule. Practicing medicine has also given me a healthy perspective that in real life things are not cut-and-dried.”
She says that both law school and the emergency room don’t always have one correct answer, but law school has helped with her communication skills. “I am better able to frame [my patients’] experience, my current analysis, my plan of action, and the various outcomes and the ramifications of each,” she says.
Vanessa After Class
The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker and The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman
On her bucket list
Attend all of the Grand Slam tennis events. I grew up going to the US Open, and I would love to attend Wimbledon, the French Open, and the Australian Open and sit courtside.
Good ER story
I was the ER physician for Charla Nash, survivor of the chimpanzee attack in Stamford, Connecticut.
Favorite TV show or movie
Scandal (anything with Shonda Rhimes’ name on it), The Chronicles of Riddick