Elizabeth Kvale, MD, grew up in Minnesota. She attended MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois to study biology and philosophy. She attended graduate school in philosophy at the University of Illinois, and then shifted to the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. She completed a residency in Family and Community Medicine at the University of Missouri, where she served as Chief Resident. After completing a service obligation in primary care in Dixon, Il, Dr. Kvale returned to academia to complete a 2-year research fellowship in palliative medicine at UAB.
I might not have had
much of a choice! My mom is a nurse and my dad was a doctor. All of my
family is either preachers or nurses.
Why did you choose to establish yourself at UAB?
did my fellowship here, and at first I had no intention of staying. But
it’s a terrific environment for what I was focused on. I made a great
choice. I’m inspired by my patients every day. They are so brave,
beautiful and graceful. I feel fortunate to be a part of what they’re
So you had a pretty positive experience going
through medical school. Did you experience any struggles going through
as a woman?
I would be lying if I said it was anything but
awesome. We all know how lucky we are. I was never aware of any
differences between me and my peers. I’m in a discipline were
communication is very important. I think being a woman and having
natural empathy is almost an advantage, in my case.
What kind of research are you doing right now?
services research. I’m particularly focused on how to deliver cancer
care and palliative care to patients. There just aren’t enough
palliative care specialists and I’m trying to figure out how to give
patients the care they need.
I hear you participated in the first Cycliad last May! Why did you decide to do that?
story. I decided to ride because I really think our navigators are
helping people and that ultimately this fundraising effort has the
potential to ensure that more cancer patients receive this support.
Every event needs people to commit in the first year, and most often
those are going to be people who really believe in the cause. My
favorite part was getting to know the other 4 individuals who were
willing to jump in and ride 1300 miles for this cause, and meeting
people along the way that our program has touched and helped.
What kind of advice do you have for women interested in the medical field?
Stay tuned to your empathy and use it to your advantage. In science, it can be easily squashed, but try to stay tuned to it.