Laura Trollinger Derry (2013, BS, Health and Exercise Science with Minors in Biology and Chemistry)

Stanford University, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine in Palo Alto, CA
Headshot of Deacon Spotlight, Laura Trollinger Derry ('13)

Tell us about your current job role/employer and what you’re currently working on. 

I am currently a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University where I am engaged in medical education, research, hospital operations, and clinical care. Clinically, I work as a Hospitalist in the Division of Hospital Medicine; my research focus is on improving healthcare systems, optimizing patient outcomes, and improving the quality of care patients receive – this includes projects related to digital health, telehealth, and the use of AI in health care.

What key personal and/or career experiences led you to where you are today?

I came to Wake Forest as a freshman with the dream of becoming a physician but never thought I would find my true passion at the intersection of business and medicine. My undergraduate classes at Wake Forest prepared me for medical school and residency, but it was my first job in management consulting after college that cultivated my interest in the business side of medicine and my decision to pursue my MD/MBA.

What was the most challenging aspect of your first “real world job” and what did you learn from it?

The most challenging aspect of my current job is navigating the inherent uncertainty in medicine. It is an incredible privilege to care for patients and their families during some of the most intense moments of their lives. However, this privilege comes with a significant sense of responsibility. It can be particularly challenging when there is considerable uncertainty surrounding a diagnosis or management plan, or when an unexpected outcome occurs. In these moments, I remind myself that each instance of uncertainty or an unexpected outcome is an opportunity to deepen my knowledge and improve my practice.

What advice would you give to new Wake Forest graduates about developing their personal life habits after college (finances, health, values, work/life balance)?

Find what brings you passion and joy, and chase that relentlessly. Approach each challenge or new experience with humble inquiry; there is always so much to learn.

Have you been mentored by anyone at Wake Forest or in your professional life? If so, what impact has that relationship had on you?

I have been fortunate to have incredible mentors in each stage of my career and season of life, such as Mike Ford during my time at Wake Forest. My mentors have provided wisdom, elevated my career, opened doors at every step along my journey. Their significant impact in my life has inspired me to serve as a mentor to others; it has also cultivated my desire to practice medicine within an academic medical center where I can work with trainees and students.

What are your future career goals or plans? How are you being intentional about working towards them?

I am really excited about teaching undergraduate students, medical students, residents, and fellows about both clinical medicine and business, and I love the research projects I have ongoing in the areas of digital health, telemedicine, and AI. Health care is changing so quickly, so I look forward to evolving with it.

Story published in May 2024. For current updates on Laura’s career path, visit her LinkedIn profile.