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Favorite Faculty: Eli Zimmerman, M.D.

Posted by on Monday, November 20, 2017 in Faculty .


Eli Zimmerman, M.D.

In what ways do you work with medical students on campus? Which way is your favorite?

Lots! I direct Brain, Behavior, and Movement (BBM), which is the final block of the first year. The course covers musculoskeletal and head/neck anatomy, neuroanatomy/neurology, and psychiatry. I also teach much of the neuro-related portion of the class. I direct the required second-year neurology clerkship and the two neurology Advanced Clinical Electives (ACEs) for third- and fourth-year students. I also am a Faculty Affiliate Advisor in Robinson College, which is one of the four advisory colleges.

It’s hard to pick a single favorite, as they are all so different. But, I love that I am able to work with students during all four years of medical school and watch them grow academically and professionally into doctors.

How did you go about picking your specialty? Any advice?

I am a stroke neurologist, which means I did a year of internal medicine, a three-year neurology residency and a one-year stroke fellowship. I had very little background in neuroscience before coming to medical school and did not feel particularly excited about it. But the professor who taught our neuro class in medical school was amazing – she really brought the material to life, and it just clicked for me. After that, I spent time shadowing one of the faculty members and found myself totally involved and invested.

My best advice is to approach career selection with an open mind! I actually came to medical school planning to be a pediatric oncologist but found my way to neurology. You will learn about fields you maybe didn’t even know existed – invest in what you’re learning about – you might surprise yourself!

What do you think is the most unique aspect of the Vanderbilt medical community and atmosphere?

I think that VUSM’s people are what make the community and atmosphere special. It is no secret that medical school is hard, but being able to learn and grow in a supportive, collaborative, friendly environment makes it so much more doable. And this is a universal, innate characteristic – everyone is here to help you and encourage you – other students, faculty, staff, and administration all want you to succeed! I actually went to medical school here (Class of 2010) and left for residency. Coming back to Vanderbilt was an easy decision for me, and what I felt about being here as a student remains true.

What has been your most meaningful moment working at Vanderbilt?

My most meaningful moment was my first day on the inpatient service as an attending. I started rounds in the Neuro ICU, a place where I had spent time as a medical student and as an internal medicine intern. But, that first day on rounds, with a big team – fellow, residents, interns, medical students – I was the one who was running the show! It was awesome and humbling and incredibly meaningful to have that first day of my career as an attending back where it started.