Christensen chose medicine for personal growth
Each September, the AMA recognizes Women in Medicine to "showcase the accomplishments of women physicians." This year, UI Health Care is celebrating our providers for the work they do, including Desire Christensen, MD, MS.
What made you decide to pursue a career in medicine?
It was important for me to pursue a career path that was intellectually challenging and required ongoing learning. I also want my work to leave an impactful mark. Medicine was the only field I felt would fulfill these requirements and continue to push me towards my own personal growth. It has been a rewarding intersection of science and the humanities. I have found this to be especially true in the field of psychiatry.
Who was a mentor to you that made an impact in your life? Why?
Richard Roller, PhD, was my honors research mentor in the Department of Microbiology. It can be hard to find an excellent research mentor who challenges and supports you. He did both and continues to be an important part of my life. He has become family, and I still attend the quarterly events he holds at his home.
What words of advice would you give to younger women hoping to begin studies or a career in medicine?
I would encourage them to pursue their dreams while also trying to educate them on some of the challenges they could face along the way. I think there can be additional strain on women in medicine that relate to personal sacrifices. This includes the time diverted from family and other important relationships.
What is a hobby of yours outside of work?
I have many hobbies. My favorite hobby and one that I prioritize nearly every day is heavy weightlifting. I lift in the mornings. I find it to be a great way to regulate my body and be able to tolerate, at times, tense situations at work. There are also endless ways to challenge the body and push limits.
This year’s theme for Women in Medicine month is “Women in Medicine: Trailblazers, Advocates, Leaders.” What does this theme mean to you personally?
I’ve always tried to carve out my own path, so that fits with being a trailblazer. I’ve taken on numerous leadership positions and I am currently the chief child and adolescent psychiatry fellow. I advocate for every single patient and don’t shy away from going the extra step to direct them to what they need.