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There are all kinds of reasons to pursue a career in medicine. For Victoria Lai, MD, MS, the motivation was relatively simple: “I just wanted to help people,” the New York City native says.
But Dr. Lai’s discipline, endocrine surgery, is among the newest and most specialized in the overall field of surgery. Applying a variety of conventional and minimally invasive techniques, Dr. Lai treats benign and malignant disorders of the thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal glands, as well as neuroendocrine tumors. The advent of transoral procedures allows many patients to be treated with no visible post-op scar.
After Dr. Lai completed her undergraduate degree at Yale, she went to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, where she earned her medical degree and subsequently completed residency training in general surgery. Dr. Lai then went to the Medical College of Wisconsin for a fellowship in endocrine surgery.
Endocrine Surgery’s Status as a Specialty
Dr. Lai explains that for a relatively new specialty, endocrine surgery has become firmly established in a relatively short time.
"We are getting more focused and versed in treatments, including those involving complex pathologies,” she says.
In addition to using the latest surgical techniques to treat endocrine disorders, Dr. Lai also enjoys the field’s academic research aspects. To facilitate her pursuit of endocrine surgery research, Dr. Lai earned a Master of Science in Clinical and Translational Research from the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science. The program seeks to speed the evolution and delivery of new scientific advances to health care.
Dr. Lai hopes to make her own contributions to advancing the discipline, as she has a particular interest in outcomes and disparities research.
“I’m particularly interested in researching disparities in surgical care and outcomes, and how they are influenced by various demographic factors,” Dr. Lai says. “Of course, better outcomes and other things that will benefit patients are always our top priorities.”
Outside of Work
The learning doesn’t end away from work. A voracious reader, Dr. Lai is particularly fond of non-fiction works, including the Alexander Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow, which inspired the hit Broadway musical, and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s recently published autobiography. She’s also taken a strong interest in the origins of creativity. Recent reads include Daily Rituals: How Artists Make Time, Find Inspiration and Get to Work by Mason Currey, and Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott.