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Career Profile: Epidemiologist - Victoria A. Cargill

Career Profile: Epidemiologist - Victoria A. Cargill

Victoria A. Cargill, M.D., M.S.C.E., Epidemiologist, Director of Minority Research and Clinical Studies, Office of AIDS Research, National Institutes of Health

National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Education

I chose this career because…

I chose to become an epidemiologist because the specialty allowed me to combine my love of caring for people and treating illnesses, with my interest in patterns of disease outbreaks and risk factors for developing disease.

Are You Ready for a Career in Health Care?

1. We say school, you think:

Bring it on!
Eek! What will I wear on the first day?
My dog ate my homework.

I grew up on a farm and always ‘treated’ the illnesses of our dogs, cats, and chickens. From the age of 9, I became an avid reader on topics in science, biology, human anatomy and diseases. My dad was an ambulance nurse and often told me about his daily work experiences and about the people he met and assisted. When I was a teen, I worked as a nursing assistant in an extended care facility for disabled children. The experience opened my eyes to the many opportunities medicine presents.

I was fortunate to be admitted to a prestigious women’s college where my career choice was 100% supported. My mother and father were also very supportive. I conducted basic research on prostaglandins and spent a summer in the lab of a well-respected prostaglandin researcher, Dr. James McCracken, at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology. Dr. Hoagland was very supportive of my interest in medicine and encouraged me with his kindness and wisdom.


• Bachelor of Arts, Biological Sciences, Magna Cum Laude, Mt. Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts
• Doctor of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
• Masters of Science in Clinical Epidemiology (M.S.C.E.), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

My typical workday involves…

My typical workday varies based upon the duties I need to accomplish for the day. I work as a medical officer on policy issues. As a doctor, I also have a private practice in a southeast clinic in Washington D.C. At the NIH, I don’t fit into any single niche. For example, I am a researcher, but I don’t work in a typical NIH laboratory. My lab is the inner city where my practice is located. Listening to my patients is as important as the diagnostic tests that are conducted. Working in the inner city environment requires an understanding of gangs, drugs, rap music, urban hip-hop, and people struggling to maintain their dignity.

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