From All-Star Babysitter to Socially Conscious Pediatrician

Looking back, it’s hardly a surprise that Rebecca Filbrandt, MD ’17 found her calling in pediatrics.

The oldest of three sisters, Dr. Filbrandt began babysitting when she was 10 years old—and got rave reviews. One need only look to the family who named their second set of twins after her: a girl named Rebecca and a boy named Reid, which is Dr. Filbrandt’s middle name.

But beyond being a superstar caregiver, it’s clear that Dr. Filbrandt has a deep commitment and passion for pediatrics, especially patient advocacy and preventative medicine in underserved areas.

Earlier this year, she matched at her No. 1 choice: Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, CA, a pediatric program affiliated with Stanford University School of Medicine. As the only pediatric trauma center in the underserved Central Valley region of California, the 358-bed facility is a vital component of the region’s health care system.

“Match Day was one of the best days of my life,” Dr. Filbrandt said. “People say when you interview at a certain program, you’ll have a feeling that you’re meant to be there. It was incredible having that experience at Valley Children’s and seeing everything I’ve worked for come to fruition.”

Making a Difference Locally

Dr. Filbrandt has drawn inspiration from her parents throughout her journey to become a physician. Her father is a physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physician, and her mother, a pediatrician, runs a rural health clinic just outside of Dr. Filbrandt’s hometown in Chico, CA.

“Medicine was part of our family. We spent many school vacations on medical missions together in Mexico and Central America, and my mom would take me on Saturday morning hospital rounds with her,” said Dr. Filbrandt. “Seeing the difference that my mom is making in our community has undoubtedly shaped my passion to serve the underserved and contributed to my interest in improving healthcare accessibility for the next generation.”

As part of her residency program, Dr. Filbrandt will have the unique opportunity to do a month of community advocacy with her fellow interns. Through a partnership with the local school district, residents operate a mobile health clinic that visits area elementary schools and offers well child exams, vaccines, and other services.

It’s a program that aligns with AUC’s community service values, Dr. Filbrandt said.

“At AUC, many of the faculty members have been involved in community outreach endeavors on the island, setting the example for students,” Dr. Filbrandt said. “Being a leader in your community is something that all physicians should strive to do. AUC fosters leadership and empowers students to engage with the community to promote health.”

Dr. Filbrandt initially chose AUC because of the smaller class size and reputation of their alumni. Now that she’s graduated, she can attest to another aspect—the faculty.

“Professors are truly invested in students’ success,” Dr. Filbrandt said. “Everyone was rooting for you. Not only were they accessible in terms of discussing academics but they also shared their experiences and advice for living in a new country.”

In addition, she values the role that medical schools like AUC play in helping mitigate the national physician shortage.

“Especially now, when there’s such a need for physicians, I think it’s important that international medical schools exist and that AUC is helping to fill that void,” she said.

Looking Ahead

As she reflects on the past four years, Dr. Filbrandt is excited to see what’s next for her classmates.

“When I first moved to St. Maarten, it was a big step—embarking on a new journey in a new country—but I truly made some of my best friends while I was there,” said Dr. Filbrandt. “It’s been awesome to see where my friends have matched and to know the difference they’re going to make, not only in their communities, but in the health care profession.”

Overall, it’s an experience that she would recommend.

“When I’m talking to premed students who are leaders in their communities, who volunteer at hospitals and clinics, who know they want to help people through medicine—I say without hesitation, you need to apply to AUC,” Dr. Filbrandt said. “If you know you want to be a doctor and this is something you’re passionate about, then you can make it happen.”