In this edition of our alumni spotlight, we are proud to showcase Dr. Allison Laffoon. Dr. Laffoon’s desire for medicine was sparked when her younger brother was diagnosed with severe autism when he was just 5-years-old. She recalls the countless doctors’ appointments, tests, and other factors that eventually led to her brother’s diagnosis. Her interest in medicine stems from these experiences as a young child. Dr. Laffoon attended the University of Iowa and received her MD from Trinity in 2017. She was a general surgery resident for five years at the University of Texas Health – San Antonio, and is now pursuing a Facial & Body Cosmetic Surgery Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee.
What’s your academic background?
Undergraduate – University of Iowa, Master of Science in Integrative Physiology with a minor in Spanish.
What brought you into medicine?
No one in my family is medical, at all, full of lawyers and business people. My path to medicine was paved mainly by my brother Jack’s unfortunate diagnosis. He is 2 years younger and was diagnosed with severe autism at age 5. He was far from normal prior to that age and my childhood was very different from a “normal” upbringing. He had a multitude of doctor’s appointments, tests, different ways of learning and his diagnostic process was a difficult one. I was always fascinated by his disease and by the medical diagnostic process. That interest continued to blossom throughout my childhood and into high school. I never thought I would end up in surgery, but that is the beauty of this journey.
Why did you choose Trinity and what ultimately helped you make the decision?
The early access to the hospital (Milton Cato Memorial Hospital) was the deciding factor. I have always been a hands-on learner and having the ability to apply my knowledge learning to actual patients. I knew that would help me solidify my foundation of knowledge and would make me a better physician.
What was the transition like from where you moved from, compared to living on the island and studying abroad?
Well, most importantly, the weather was quite different than Iowa. I love summer, and the island is the most beautiful perpetual summer all year round. It made studying a little bit harder. I also had a gap year between college and medical school, so getting back into the groove of studying was another transition I had to make. For this, Trinity recommended the Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) program, which was very beneficial. It gave me a slightly slower pace to really fine-tune my most successful study techniques and prepare for a full course load. I got into a really great daily schedule that helped, but finding that was quite a transition. Another change that I wasn’t expecting to be so egregious was the sun schedule, it rises and sets at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. every day of the year.
Do you have any stand-out memories, stories, experiences regarding your time at Trinity?
My favorite time there was one weekend when 30 of us went sailing to another island. We had a blast I have so many great experiences and memories that would exceed any set character limit. My favorite memory is a post-exam weekend sailing trip around the beautiful grenadine islands with 30 other students and we saw some of the most beautiful places and animals (huge turtles, sting rays, small sharks, etc.) I have ever seen in my life. It was such a great time when everyone could relax and have fun together. Another great memory is rescuing our dogs with the help of the Vincentian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (VSPCA).
Where did you match?
University of Texas Health at San Antonio.
I was a General Surgery Resident for five years at the University of Texas Health at San Antonio. As of July 2023, I am pursuing a Facial & Body Cosmetic Surgery Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, where I am honing my skills under guidance of Dr. Marvel.
Best advice you’d share with a prospective Trinity student?
I would say focus your mindset towards the greatest goal, which is to learn as much as you can to be the very best physician for your patients! That mindset helped to drive my motivation to excel. It takes the focus off of yourself and puts it on the true purpose, which is to serve others. Another piece of advice is to work hard, but make time for fun and relaxation! I found that when I did this, I performed better.
Anything you’d like to add?
In addition to having a passion for medicine, I also enjoy World history, especially American history. When time permits, I like to take part in fitness sessions with friends at Orange Theory Fitness, and most importantly anything outdoors with my husband and our five rescue dogs.
Recent News as of 2023:
Through her unwavering dedication and her steadfast commitment to delivering exceptional patient care, Dr. Laffoon continues to shape her unstoppable professional trajectory. Throughout her career, Dr. Laffoon has received recognition for her exceptional contributions and achievements. She secured 1st place in the Intern Surgical Olympics and was awarded the Intern of the Year title. Her dedication to growth and improvement is evident in her achievement of the “Most Improved ABSITE score” among junior residents. Dr. Laffoon’s outstanding abilities and commitment to her craft have been acknowledged through Aust Society Travel Scholarship Award and the Gold Humanism Award for teaching. Currently, her favorite surgical procedures are kidney transplants in the field of general surgery and bilateral breast reduction in aesthetic operation.
Dr. Laffoon actively contributes to her medical community through her involvement in various committees and administrative duties. She has served as a General Surgery Residency Council Member and the House Staff Council General Surgery Representative. Her leadership abilities have been recognized through her role as the Trauma Administrative Chief Resident. She also played a vital role in the Incoming Resident Selection Committee and the General Surgery Wellness Committee. Additionally, she has served as the General Surgery Residency Social Media Representative, utilizing her communication skills to effectively engage with the online community.
Besides being actively involved in professional organizations, Dr. Laffoon has published several articles and is currently working on various projects in the medical field. Her publications include topics such as postpartum bowel perforation, hand surgery training pathways, and rare cases of diseases in adult patients. She is also actively involved in projects related to the impact of COVID-19 on residency director interviews and selection processes, gastric bleeding caused by vascular abnormalities, and the comprehensive review of endovascular aortic aneurysm repair. Moreover, she has also presented on topics like vascular access, post-operative complications in kidney donors, global health research, and complex surgical oncology cases.
Dr. Laffoon exemplifies Trinity School of Medicine’s vision of preparing educated, compassionate physicians. Her success in the field of medicine and active involvement in professional organizations reflect her dedication to delivering the highest quality patient-centered healthcare and transforming communities in greatest need. As a distinguished Trinity graduate, Dr. Laffoon embodies the values and mission of the school, making her a true reflection of Trinity’s vision to be a world leader in medical education.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Allison Laffoon for graciously accepting the role of keynote speaker at the upcoming 2023 September White Coat Ceremony and for inspiring our future medical professionals with her passion, journey, and insights.