Illustration of Vineet Arora, AM’03

(Illustration by Agata Nowicka)

Vineet Arora, AM’03

Questions for the UChicago physician and incoming dean for medical education.

What surprising job have you had in the past?

Bookkeeper at a Jenny Craig Weight Loss Center.

What would you want to be doing if not your current position?

I have wondered if I should have gone into a career in marketing and advertising. I feel like so much of what I do is trying to inspire people to try something new.

What do you hate that everyone else loves?

Downton Abbey.

What was the last book you finished?

New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World—and How to Make It Work for You.

What was the last book you recommended to a friend?

When Breath Becomes Air.

What was the last book you put down before you finished it?

Cribsheet (because I had a baby).

What book—or other work or idea—do you relish teaching?

I love teaching how to improve communication in health care. One idea I do teach about is the egocentric heuristic that I learned from Boaz Keysar, another University professor. 

What book changed your life?

I am not sure I have read a book that has changed my life.

What person, alive or dead, would you want to write your life story?

Mindy Kaling.

What do you love that everyone else hates?

I have a love hate relationship with social media.

What’s your least useful talent?

As a working mom to young children, I have to use every talent I have, no matter how unnecessary it may appear to others.

Tell us the best piece of advice you’ve received—or the worst.

The worst advice I received was not to teach but to “just do research.” Fortunately, after I would see others teaching about my own research, I came to my senses.

What advice would you give to a brand-new Maroon?

Lead from where you stand. You are all leaders. It is about finding your voice and your platform.

Who was your best teacher, and why?

My high school math teacher really encouraged me to try out for the math team. I know this is a cliché plot from Tina Fey’s Mean Girls, but as a young woman at the time, it really wasn’t something I would have thought of doing, so that encouragement meant a lot. I was, of course, the only girl on the team, and it was challenging in many ways, but it definitely enhanced my interest in gender equity in STEM  [science, technology, engineering, and math] careers.

What UChicago classroom moment will you never forget?

As a physician, I think of the “classroom” for our students as the actual clinical environment. I will never forget those times when a medical student or resident uses every tool at their disposal. Once, a very early clinical medical student advocated for a second biopsy in her patient by sharing literature showing the initial biopsy was often negative in a rare cancer syndrome we had considered—and of course she was right.