After graduating from Muhlenberg College in 2016 with a bachelor of science in biology and a minor in sociology, Julia Burns (MS/Biomed ’20) pursued her passion for research and moved to Boulder, Colorado to work in a year-long internship focused on researching a variety of diseases. Her passion for research never wavered, but Ms. Burns took time to explore other pursuits outside of healthcare. During this year-long hiatus from research and academia, Ms. Burns came to the realization that she was called to serve in the medical field.
After exploring her options for graduate education, Ms. Burns selected Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) for two reasons. One, it was located near her family’s home in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and close to her younger sister, Rose. Growing up, Ms. Burns served as part of the healthcare team for Rose, who was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome. This genetic condition affects the part of the brain that produces hormones and regulates growth and appetite. This real-life introduction to healthcare would be a huge influence in Ms. Burn’s decision to pursue healthcare as a profession.
The second reason that Ms. Burns chose PCOM was the unique degree structure that allowed her to complete a master’s in biomedical sciences, with a concentration in public and population health leadership before starting her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree.
During her time in the master’s program, Ms. Burns was a central figure in establishing the head teaching assistant (TA) program for anatomy students. Along with her classmate Amanda Bond (MS/Biomed ’20), Ms. Burns formalized the process for TAs and took on the task of managing the schedule of 60 TA volunteers who assisted both biomed and doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) students in their anatomy labs. These TA volunteers fall under the leadership of Ms. Burns and Ms. Bond and assisted in 18 during the Fall 2019 semester.
“Growing up with parents who were also teachers, I always felt a sense of pride when I was able to help my peers understand something better,” shared Ms. Burns. “It is a remarkable feeling when you see someone ‘get it’,” she continued.
This head teaching assistant program has now grown from anatomy courses, to include a formal TA process for physiology, pharmacology and neuroscience courses. “Our aim is to be in tune with where the needs are for students and professors,” shared Ms. Burns.
In addition to her work at PCOM, Ms. Burns illustrated a soon-to-be-released children’s book titled Tiny or Tall, Mighty or Small – Music for All! which promotes body positivity in school-aged children. She is also an active member of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) at PCOM and volunteers with “No More Secrets” an organization that works to end period poverty in the city of Philadelphia by delivering period products to those who don’t have access to supplies.
Ms. Burns was also awarded the 2020 President’s Leadership in Diversity Award.
Following her graduation from the master’s program at PCOM, Ms. Burns will begin her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine education at PCOM. When asked what advice she would give to someone who is starting their graduate-level education today, Ms. Burns shared, “Find out what your passions are. Following my anatomy passion led to so many other things.”