Oct. 27, 2017 — As Elim Kuo gently bows and plucks at her violin, a crowd of young faces watch her intently. Suddenly, a great beast wearing a blue overcoat gives a deep roar. Somewhere within the crowd, a much higher pitched voice roars back.
Kuo, as a member of the UF College of Medicine White Coat Company, performed “Beauty and the Beast” for pediatric patients of UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital last February. She calls the experience one of her fondest memories at the UF College of Medicine.
“We got those kids laughing and singing along,” she recalled. “We all loved bringing that story alive for the kids, and they enjoyed it, too.”
It’s “a tale as old as time:” when medicine joins forces with the arts, something special happens. Kuo has been able to pursue her dual passions with help from the Alicia R. Maun, M.D., Scholarship. Now in her fourth year as a medical student, she recognizes the impact receiving this scholarship has had on her time at the UF College of Medicine.
“I’m really honored to be chosen,” she said. “Having that financial burden lifted really eases my mind. I can focus on pursuing my dreams without worrying about money.”
Kuo has played the violin and piano since age 7. For her, the act of playing is relaxing, but she recognizes the value music has for listeners as well.
“Music can have a role in healing,” she said. “It can help you temporarily forget your troubles in this world and escape to another one.”
Kuo has had a special interest in healing others since her high school years, when she began volunteering at her local hospital. After shadowing radiation oncologists during her undergraduate years at the University of Florida, her spark for medicine really ignited. After she graduates from the UF College of Medicine in a few months, she aims to begin an internal medicine residency, but she’s also considering a future in hematology and oncology.
“The diversity of patient experiences you see in internal medicine drew me to that field,” she said. “It also gives you a good knowledge base and skill set, so it’s possible to pursue specialties in the future.”
Kuo believes her determination and drive will see her through the grueling process of medical education into a blossoming career.
“Medicine is a long road, and I’m going to see it through to the end,” she said. “I’m really dedicated to what I do. At the end of the day, as long as you love what you do, you will succeed.”
Kuo said her studies at the UF College of Medicine have taught her valuable lessons about empathy, starting from her first interview as a prospective student.
“On interview day, you get to meet a patient and hear their story,” she said. “If you take the time to listen to the patient and connect with them, then they will be more willing to listen to you in turn. That’s a lesson that will go a long way.”