Dr. Claire Larson is clinical assistant professor of geriatric medicine.
What brought you to UNC Medical Center?
After graduating from Duke University, I went to medical school at UNC. I received a great education and strong foundation in medicine and enjoyed opportunities for rotations and outreach in the community. I spent the last 7 years in California: 4 years at the University of California-San Francisco for residency training in Internal Medicine and fellowship training in Geriatrics. I then worked for 3 years at Kaiser Permanente. I moved back to North Carolina in July 2018 to join the Division of Geriatrics faculty and to be closer to family. While I had a great experience on the West Coast, the collegial, supportive environment, exceptional patient care, and commitment to the community drew me back to UNC.
Where are you from? I was born and raised in Durham, NC.
Did you always want to be a doctor?
I grew up with a love of nature and science, and initially planned to be a veterinarian. However, I was eventually drawn to medicine because it combined my love of science and passion for helping people.
How did you choose your specialty?
I was always close with my grandparents growing up, and as they grew older, witnessed the changes in their health and the impact on them and our family. Seeing their evolving care needs, adapting to their changes in function, and ultimately coping with their deaths were pivotal experiences. I also love the complexity and breadth of Internal Medicine. Geriatrics was the best fit, as it combined my interest in complex disease management and my passion for working with older adults.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I find building longitudinal relationships with patients and their families most rewarding. Whether we are navigating chronic disease management, new diagnoses or transitions in care, I enjoy the process of getting to know patients, understanding their values, and working with them to maximize their health and quality of life.
What are some of the new developments in your field of specialty?
Geriatrics is a growing field, and we are continually trying to find new systems to address the care needs of an increasing aging population. Interprofessional teams are essential in Geriatrics, to approach health from different perspectives, to help with transitions of care, and to reduce preventable hospitalizations and complications. Geriatricians are always working to adapt existing guidelines for care to an older population.
Is there a particular achievement (professional or personal) that has been most gratifying to you?
Professionally, each step of training from medical school, internship, residency and fellowship involved growth in knowledge and expertise, and felt like an achievement and new milestone. Personally, my high school volleyball team won the NC state championship so I will always be proud of that.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
You are exactly where you are supposed to be right now. Meaning there are ups and downs, victories and failures on all of our professional and personal journeys, but to never discount where we are in the process.
If you weren’t a physician, what would you like to be doing?
I have always been passionate about art and design, and so I would likely be a painter or interior designer.
What hobbies do you enjoy?
I enjoy hiking with my dog, cooking and baking, exploring new parks and outdoor areas and traveling.
Do you have a favorite quote or life motto?
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”- Maya Angelou