Addie Goss: Human Interest Bridges Careers in Journalism and Medicine

Bryn Mawr College’s Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program provides a rigorous and highly prestigious one-year program for those interested in applying to medical school but lack the required undergraduate prerequisite courses. In the summer of 2015, new alumni feature stories were written for use on the program’s recently re-designed website, targeting prospective applicants.

Read the article on Bryn Mawr’s website

Addiction, incarceration, workplace injuries, poverty, homelessness and dementia.

“I found myself gravitating toward and reporting on these stories of human suffering and social justice,” said Addie Goss, who completed Bryn Mawr’s Postbaccalaureate Premedical program in 2011.

Originally from Los Angeles, Goss attended Brown University and majored in science and society with the “very, very clear intent” of becoming a journalist for NPR. After a series of journalism internships, Goss graduated and found herself working for the media organization in Washington, D.C.

Her work as an intern, production assistant and freelance reporter for NPR took her all the way to Mali in West Africa. Working alongside two of her friends who were training in medicine and had founded a community health initiative called Project Muso, Goss covered stories about a malaria vaccine trial, overarching health system issues and U.S. politics and image in foreign countries.

One incident during Goss’ four months in West Africa planted the seed toward a career in medicine.

“A mother with a very ill toddler came to my house, basically in desperation to save her son,” Goss said. “He had been misdiagnosed with malaria several times, and she was asking for my help in arranging further medical care. My medical student friends were able to get him to a hospital, but it was too late – he died of typhoid fever just a few days later. Not having the skills or knowing what to do with the situation directly in front of me left me feeling helpless.”

Back in the U.S. and working for the NPR station Wyoming Public Radio, Goss was 23 years old, living somewhere totally new and traveling across the state to cover stories. It was during this time that Goss discovered a talent for intimately connecting with her subjects, getting those she interviewed to open up to her.

“But more and more, the stories that my colleagues thought were my best work – the stories that were the most emotionally impactful – were the ones that left me worrying about how my subjects felt when they heard it,” Goss said. “Maybe bringing the overall issue to light was more important than the discomfort of the person featured, but I wasn’t sure.”

After conversations with more than 30 people working in public health and interest professions, including the physicians in her own family, Goss decided it was those in the medical field who were most like her.

She sought out a postbac program she could complete in a year that had an excellent reputation. Bryn Mawr’s program became her top choice because it was  “appropriately hard and focused specifically on students like me.”

“Everything at Bryn Mawr felt intentional,” she said. “The course material, the pacing, the opportunities for teamwork – it was a trusted, proven process. It’s surprising even now how close we all are, given how intensely focused on ourselves we had to be during that one short year.”

Now a fourth year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania, Goss is looking at residencies that will allow for long-term relationships with patients where she is their primary provider.

“To me, medicine isn’t all that different from journalism,” she said. “It’s purpose-driven work within a community. I’ll get to talk with people and work through issues. Only now, I’ll have the training to directly help them.”

Photo credit: Bryn Mawr College, courtesy of Addie Goss