Laura A. Foster ’12
Neurology and Palliative Care
FOR WHAT ARE YOU FAMOUS AMONG FRIENDS AND FAMILY?
I’m famous among my tribe for running marathons. I ran my first in Orange County after training with the Loma Linda Lopers and RBS530. For me, running is a great way to start the day outside in the fresh air with a sense of accomplishment and healthy dose of endorphins. Running has been a great way to explore my new hometowns and to make friends as I move across the country.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST MEMORY FROM MEDICAL SCHOOL?
I would run to my grandparents’ house on Tuesday mornings and have breakfast with my grandpa, Glenn L. Foster ’57, and a small group of his friends, many of whom were in the medical field. When I couldn’t see past my next exam, they would help me regain perspective by telling personal stories. Hearing how they had made and learned from mistakes, prioritized their families, and maintained a sense of curiosity gave me courage.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCE IN YOUR MEDICAL CAREER?
I did a neurology elective at the Veteran’s Administration Loma Linda Healthcare System with Bradley A. Cole ’92. I saw a patient with limb weakness who had spine surgery, which didn’t fix the problem. Dr. Cole had suspected amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) as the cause prior to the surgery and tried to contact the other clinicians involved in this patient’s care, but the surgery happened anyway. As a medical student focused on correct diagnosis and management, this experience opened my eyes to the complexity of systems-based practice, the professionalism required to function well in the system, and the need to help people with ALS.
IF YOU WERE TO HAVE WORKED IN A FIELD OUTSIDE OF MEDICINE, WHAT WOULD IT HAVE BEEN? WHY?
I’d be an algebra and geometry teacher. I love the reliability and precision of math as well as its innate beauty. It bothers me when people say, “I’m just not good at math,” and I’d want to help people understand it well enough to not be afraid. I think math has that in common with neurology — they’re difficult and elegant and can be demystified by good teachers.
IF YOU COULD LEARN TO DO SOMETHING NEW OR BETTER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I wish I could speak Spanish. While I’ve worked with good interpreters, it’s so much harder to feel connected and understood when I can’t speak the same language.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
“Sleep and food fix most things.” I attribute this to my grandpa, who is ever-ready to take a nap or share mixed nuts. Personal wellness is a prerequisite to efficacy, which requires awareness to one’s own needs. And some problems sort themselves out with time rather than effort, especially when the problem is my perspective as much as the situation. So it’s ok to take breaks.