Alumni Spotlight on Alice Cha, M.D. ’13
Alice Cha, M.D. ’13, turned her lifelong appreciation of health care workers into a career treating patients and educating medical professionals of the future in California.
Alice Cha, M.D. ’13, an inpatient physician at Stanford ValleyCare (VC) Hospital in Pleasanton, California—recognized for its response and handling of the initial COVID-19 outbreak—and as a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Cha dedicates her career to not only helping others as a physician but teaching and guiding health professionals of the future, whether developing a summer program for high school students interested in health care or teaching medical students.
What made you choose New York Medical College (NYMC)?
I grew up in California and was curious about what the East Coast is like. I knew I wanted to practice medicine in California after medical school, so I could not pass up an opportunity to live and go to school in the New York metropolitan area.
What is your fondest memory of New York Medical College?
My fondest memory of NYMC is exploring New York City with my classmates. I remember trying out Burmese cuisine for the first time, visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, then grabbing refreshments at Café Vienna and, of course, getting hot pot in Flushing, Queens.
Briefly describe your current role:
I am a hospitalist for Stanford Health Care–ValleyCare in California and a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, where my clinical duty is 100 percent inpatient based. I teach physician assistant students and medical residents on rotation. I participate in various projects and develop teaching curricula. I also developed a summer academy for high school students interested in medicine as a career.
What do you love most about your field of medicine?
I love the variety and the challenge of hospital medicine. I also enjoy that my position is a unique blend of community medicine and academic medicine, where I am able to see the various projects have a direct impact in the community.
Who or what inspired you to pursue your field?
My mother is a registered nurse and I was a child who frequently suffered from bronchitis. As a result, I grew up spending a lot of time either being sick in the hospital or hanging out in her office at the back corner of the hospital. I was always inspired by my pediatricians and the staff at the hospital. They seem to always be able to deliver difficult news with warmth and compassion. They are the kind of people who I aspire to be like and part of why I ultimately chose hospital medicine.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment so far is when I launched a summer program for high school students in the community. It's a program that offers hands-on experience to high school students interested in health care as a career to further explore this interest. They have a chance to interview patients, practice physical exams, perform bronchoscopy on sheep lungs and practice suturing.
Based on your experiences, what advice would you give to future students and/or future alumni of New York Medical College?
Whether you grew up in New York or are here for school, I encourage you to fully embrace yourself in the NYMC experience and to seek out unique opportunities that align with your interests but push outside your comfort zone. I chose to rotate through as many places as possible for my clinical rotations including New York City, Westchester County, Ulster County, the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and Paterson, New Jersey. Even though there was a lot of moving around, the experience of working with such a diverse population and their various health care systems is something I still cherish to this day. I also participated in a "Learning to Teach" course, which was a pilot course that focuses on revolutionizing traditional curriculum, that inspired me to continue to think about how to be creative about the delivery and structure of teaching and gave me tools to approach my current job—which is a mindset I encourage students to have.
When you're not working, where are you most likely to be found/what are you most likely to be doing?
During my days away from the hospital, I am most likely found at home either cooking a meal or on the couch, watching Netflix with my cat.