Life of a Former UBRPer

Where will your experiences take you? It is always interesting to reflect back on where you thought you would be and how it ends up turning out.

Picture of Dr. Chelsea Johnson

Chelsea Johnson, MD, BUMC Family Medicine PGY-2

My name is Chelsea, I participated in BRAVO! the summer of 2011 and was part of UBRP in 2011-2012.  I worked in the UA’s Orthopedic Research Lab under Dr. John Szivek, focused mostly on stem cell differentiation and creating scaffolds for developing tissue for replacing degenerated cartilage. I graduated with Honors from the UA with a B.S.H.S in Physiology and a minor in Family Studies and Human Development. From there I went to medical school at West Virginia University, graduated in 2017 and started a residency in Family Medicine at Banner-UMC South Campus. I am part of our residency’s Global Health and Integrative Medicine track as well and look forward to practicing medicine both here in Tucson and globally. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my husband and family and friends. I also enjoy crocheting, hiking, camping, and baking.

I didn’t always think participating in BRAVO! and UBRP would continue to have a lasting effect, but participating in research was extremely beneficial to my journey in several ways. Being involved in research in undergrad allowed me the chance to put myself out there; to start creating networks of mentors, find people who I shared common ground with, and helped to develop time management skills. I had to balance working and developing a project while doing homework and studying for classes. I had the opportunity to present posters at several conferences, which polished public speaking and communication skills, both of which are valued in the health professions field. I learned how to critically interpret journal articles and their results, and started studying statistics, all very important to success in a career as a physician.

While all of those experiences and skills are important, some of my most favorite experiences were not what I expected. One of my best memories from college is living in Toronto for 3 months to do research through BRAVO!. While still in North America, Toronto was vastly different from Tucson and I learned how to live and work in a completely different landscape of people and place. I developed a love for learning about different cultures, peoples, and how I can best serve them. It was this experience that helped immensely in attending a school far from home and motivates me to serve patients globally as well as in my own town.

Do I use the skills I learned from research now? Absolutely. Do I think I will use these skills in the future? Definitely. I wasn’t always sure of this, but after choosing a career in medicine it became clear this would become a part of my life. As part of residency, we have the opportunity to participate in developing and creating our own research project, and I will use this project to help improve the quality of care we give our patients. Outside of this project, as a physician I may need to implement a change, and developing research projects, finding mentors, analyzing data and continuing to learn will always be a part of the process. Looking back, I am grateful for the opportunities I had. Those fundamental skills from an undergraduate experience, both analysis, and providing compassionate care, were and will always be crucial.