Resident Spotlight: Jennifer Kang, MD

By William Alexander

Incoming Junior Assistant Resident Jennifer Kang, MD, felt the call to pursue neuro-oncology after her friend’s father died from glioblastoma. In this Resident Spotlight interview, Kang talks to us about this experience, what she’s looking forward to as a neurologist, and what she's learned from almost a decade of attending Duke and living in the Triangle.

What does a typical day for you look like as an resident in internal medicine?
It varies by rotation. This year, I cycle between four weeks on in-patient medicine and 1 week ambulatory (clinics). My in-patient rotations vary among specialties (general medicine, cardiology, oncology, etc.) and hospitals (VA, Duke Regional Hospital, and Duke North). I am usually up early and out late, and on some rotations, have alternating days where I worked 28 hour calls vs. shorter days. During my clinic week, I would rotate among specialty and primary care clinics. It always feels like you're re-adjusting again and constantly learning new things.

What are you most looking forward to in your neurology residency? What part of the program seems the most intimidating?
I am looking forward to being able to specialize! I always enjoyed things related to the brain, and have the most interest in it. I am intimidated by being on-call by myself, but I know I will have a lot of help before I am there!

How did you first get interested in neuro-oncology? What would be your dream job?
About a year after I finished college, my friend's dad died of advanced glioblastoma and went straight home to hospice, eventually leaving a wife and two boys behind. I remember talking a lot with my friend during that transition when he quit his job to be with his mom and dad during the last moments. It was quite impactful and when I got into medical school, that that was what I wanted to do. Nothing during school really deviated me from that thought, and in fact, I spent some time at the Brain Tumor Center during my research year which really tipped me over. That's what motivated me to go into neurology as well. I would like to be at an academic center, split between research (clinical trials) and patient care.    

Having completed your undergraduate studies and medical degree here at Duke, you must know the University and the surrounding area pretty well by now. Can you offer one tip for newcomers for making life easier A) at Duke and B) living in the triangle?
A) Duke is a great institution and there is a lot of opportunity. I would say to just do your best, be humble, be open and attach yourself to good people - there are a lot of excellent people here.

B) It's easy to live here! I am not sure what I can add - good eats, good outdoor activities, affordable housing and nice people. I like living close to the hospital but my place is in the Duke Forest so that clears my mind from work. It's good to have spaces you like to go that make you feel like you're away from work and recharge you.

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?
I like getting together with my friends, often hosting things myself when I get the chance. Baking and cooking are fun for me, although I don't always have the time to do it. Otherwise, exercising (cardio with elliptical and bizarre workout videos) and being active in my church community, Cole Mill Church of Christ, are also things I prioritize.