Alumni Profile: Focused on financial support for students
When Traci Granston, MD, was contemplating where to attend medical school in 1991, she knew it made financial sense to attend her state university in Washington, but her heart belonged to Vanderbilt. So, she took out student loans and headed south to Nashville and became a member of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Class of 1995.
“As a first-year student — from Washington — I went to a welcome BBQ at the dean’s house, expecting hamburgers and hot dogs,” she jokes. “Everyone looked at me like, ‘Where are you from?’ From the minute I stepped foot on the campus, the faculty embraced the students. We were like royalty. Vanderbilt was incredibly welcoming.”
Granston is passionate about alleviating the burden that medical school debt places on talented undergraduate students who often have to choose a school based on financial considerations. For this reason, she has established the Traci Granston Family Scholarship Fund for Vanderbilt University School of Medicine students.
“Because I was so happy and proud of Vanderbilt, the alumni affairs office asked if I’d be willing to host an alumni event in Seattle, and I said yes,” said Granston, who serves as a philanthropy and engagement volunteer for the School of Medicine. “It’s my way of giving back to the school. If a student is academically qualified for Vanderbilt, I don’t want finances to be a reason not to go.”
Granston’s affinity for VUSM is one of the many reasons she has chosen to establish the scholarship fund.
She fondly recalls that the gross anatomy class with Paula Hoos, PhD, sparked her interest in orthopaedics. “That’s where I fell in love with the anatomy of the hand and decided that’s what I want to do.” She pursued that passion, choosing to be among the 1% of orthopaedic surgeons at the time who were female. (Today, 6% of orthopaedic surgeons are women.)
Granston served her six-year residency at Case Western Reserve, followed by a fellowship at the University of Washington in hand and vascular surgery.
In July she gave up her private practice partnership to embark on a business venture with Boston-based Cohere Health, which aims to streamline the pre-authorization process. She earned her executive MBA from the University of Washington in 2021 and is now the medical director for clinical innovation and strategy for the musculoskeletal service line.
“Cohere Health is startup company transforming utilization management into a strategic asset by using machine learning/AI to determine if a procedure is needed. We are moving toward providing profiling and patient cohorting and are working toward integration with the electronic medical record. We are doing more of a care path approach. Everything from pre-op to post-op gets approved in one spot,” Granston explained.
“As physicians, we can’t sit back and complain about insurance and pre-authorization if no one is willing to do anything about it. Some physicians have to get involved, and I feel I can help a greater number of people in this new role. I’m in the right position to make a difference.”
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