Roadtrip Nation
Michael Wilkes

Michael Wilkes

Professor of Medicine and Global Health

University of California, Davis

Sacramento, CA USA

Be humble and remember, for better or for worse, you’re only human.


By Roadtrip Nation

Michael Wilkes

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Day In The Life Of A Professor Of Medicine And Global Health


My road in life has taken me all over.
After graduating from college, I started my career as a journalist.
I’d interview accomplished people who would describe the potential efficacy of a drug or policy but when I’d ask how they knew, they told me I wouldn’t understand—so I decided to go to medical school.
I kept working as a television journalist through medical school and went back into journalism full-time after graduating.
I started feeling like something in my life was missing—I wanted to work with patients and ask real research questions, not just journalism questions.
I explored a few different residencies—psychiatry, internal medicine, preventive medicine and public health—before deciding to stick to becoming an internist.
In addition to my MD, I earned a Master of Public Health and a Ph.D. in global epidemiology.
I currently work as a professor of medicine and global health at UC Davis and I run a high risk clinic for homeless teens.
I’ve also continued pursuing my journalistic interests by hosting the KCRW medical radio show, “Second Opinion.”


High School
Vassar College
University of Connecticut
Public Health
Columbia University
Social Epidemiology


Professor of Medicine and Global Health

I research global health issues, work to improve medical education, and treat patients at a high risk teen clinic.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Helping People

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

If you want to practice medicine in the U.S., you need to be strong-willed and ready to advocate for your patients. Be willing to contradict and question the answers you're given, especially when there are conflicts of interest. Humility is also key. Be humble and willing to admit ambiguity or uncertainty. The field of medicine also needs people who are inquisitive and creative. It's by asking questions and not taking the gospel that big discoveries have been made.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Really think about what role in health seems most comfortable for you. Doctors used to be the end all be all but the field of medicine is changing. We need to realize that other roles—like public health and social work—are just as important. Before committing, think, "Why medical school?" If you want to be a doctor, go for it. But if you would actually rather do social work, try that. It doesn't mean you're closing the door on becoming a physician—that option will still be there in the future.


The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"I'm a fake and a fraud. I've fooled all these people and I'm going to be found out."

Challenges I Overcame

Learning Issues
Imposter Syndrome

Interviewed By

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