Rebecca Bausell: Grew Up Discussing Medical Research at the Dinner Table

The weeks leading up to Match Day are a time of suspense for medical students. But for Rebecca Bausell, the suspense was compounded by another factor: She was pregnant with twins and due any minute. “It’s hard to pick one thing in particular to be excited about,” she says. “There’s so much in the air.”

On March 27, a week after Match Day, Dr. Bausell and her husband, Matt Irwin, welcomed into the world two healthy baby boys, Ronan and Jacob. She will begin an ophthalmology residency at the University of Pennsylvania after completing a transitional year internship at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Pennsylvania.

Born in Baltimore, Dr. Bausell comes from a line of distinguished doctors going all the way back to her great-grandparents. Both of her parents have doctoral degrees; her father is a research methodologist and her mother specializes in education. “I grew up discussing medical research at the dinner table,” she says. She considered following the PhD route herself, perhaps building on an early fascination with biology. “I always had a love for living things—injured animals, insects in the woods,” she says. As an undergraduate at Boston University, she “became more interested in people and the human experience” and decided to major in psychology, with a minor in public health and French.

After moving to New York, she worked as a research coordinator in environmental health at Mount Sinai. She managed a study investigating the levels at which pregnant women in New York City were exposed to certain environmental contaminants. Her job was to recruit women into the study and accompany them to obstetric appointments. This allowed her to connect with patients while learning about the medical side of their pregnancies—a natural bridge from psychology to medical school.

Dr. Bausell finds herself increasingly fascinated with the disease process, in particular how systemic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure are revealed through ocular manifestations. She looks forward not only to managing her patients’ diseases, but also to educating them and suggesting lifestyle modifications that address the underlying causes of their conditions. But she is in no rush to specialize. “At this point, everything is interesting and exciting,” she says of medicine, though you suspect she could be talking about life in general.