Meet Leo Liu ’13
The 2012-2013 Syvertsen Fellow

A Multiplier in the Making

One could say that Xinran “Leo” Liu was destined to become a physician. Born in China, he lived there until he was five and a half, spending a year with his grandparents while his parents established a new life in the United States. “My grandpa was a physician and he would bring me to the hospital where he worked and I would hang out with the nurses,” says Liu. Liu’s mother had been studying to become a physician, too, but his father “fell in love with the American dream,” as Liu puts it, and the couple decided to move half way around the world.

The family struggled for several years but gradually established a comfortable life in the U.S. Today, Liu’s mother is a medical technologist and his father worked for many years in management. Liu is in his final year of medical school and was recently named the 2012-2013 Syvertsen Fellow.

“It’s a big honor to be named the Syvertsen Fellow,” says Liu. “Dr. Syvertsen was a very impactful person, a mentor and a clinical educator. I think the official word is ‘multiplier,’ somebody who really allows others to accomplish great things. I think that’s a great standard to follow. I have had so many people help me get to where I am now.”

Although it was more or less assumed in Liu’s family that he would one day become a doctor, at Geisel he has found his own passion for the profession, especially in the related fields of quality improvement and health care delivery science.

“Being a doctor is more than just being a clinician,” says Liu. “I didn’t completely get that until I came to Dartmouth, which has been a really fantastic experience. I always want to be a clinician but there is a much bigger role in today’s world that physicians can play.”

Liu’s interests in quality improvement and health care delivery began when he was an undergraduate at Cornell. In addition to his coursework as a chemistry major, he read many books about medicine in his spare time, such as Complications by Atul Gwande and How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman. Once at Dartmouth, he attended any talk he could on quality and design within healthcare, often given by faculty of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI) or Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. It was at one of these talks that he met Gauthem Suresh, MD, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Geisel School and a neonatologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

“I went up to him after his talk and said I would like to work with him,” recalls Liu. “He said, ‘Meet me in my office on Friday.’” With Suresh’s guidance, Liu completed a project that improved the process surrounding the insertion of central lines in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at DHMC.

Multiplying knowledge

Liu marvels at how easy it has been at the Geisel School for him to collaborate with faculty. In addition to his work with Suresh, Liu works with several other faculty members in his role as co-founder and co-creator of UndergroundMed, a free, online medical education video series for medical students. Liu and his co-founders—Whitney de Luna ’13 and Sharath Bhagavatula, a medical student at New York University—have created 58 videos, so far, on topics such as differential diagnosis and reading an EKG. The team relies on a panel of Geisel faculty members to review the videos for accuracy before posting online. With over 100,000 views, the videos are proving to be a popular resource for students at Geisel and elsewhere. Liu, de Luna, and Bhagavatula are also partnering with the Institute for Innovative Technology in Medical Education (iInTime)—co-founded by Geisel faculty members Leslie Fall ’90 and Norman Berman—to create a new website. Liu hopes to reach 200 videos before graduating next spring.

After medical school, Liu will pursue internal medicine. “I want a career that combines my love of individual patient care with my interest in improving medicine on a systemic level,” says Liu. “The next step for me is to train at an institution that will help me do that—and help me empower others to achieve great things, too.”

December 2012

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