When Kate Silver graduated from Mason Prep in 1997, she had no idea that her professional pursuits would one day bring her back to the same neighborhood where she began school as a first grader. Now as Dr. Kate Silver, a specialist in adult and pediatric rheumatology at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), she reflects on her memories of Mason Prep and how the school helped prepare her for a challenging and fulfilling career.
As a Mason Prep alumnus, what special memories do you have of your years here?
I have many fond memories of Mason Prep. I remember things like really enjoying the annual field day and eating lunch outside in the breezeway when the weather was nice. The sixth grade trip to Washington, DC, was another highlight.
Were there some key STEM-related experiences at Mason Prep that prompted you to start thinking about a career in medicine?
I always knew I wanted to be a doctor. My dad, who is also a physician, started taking me along to the hospital when I was very young. He bribed me with donuts and it obviously worked! At Mason Prep, I really enjoyed Mr. Kreutner’s science class and Mrs. Howell’s math class in middle school. I remember going to Camp St. Christopher in lower school and to Santee in middle school. We learned about wetlands and marine biology, which was very cool.
How did the foundation of a Mason Prep education prepare you for the rigors of medical school and residency?
[Dr. Silver attended the Medical University of South Carolina, and completed residencies in both internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.] Mason Prep is where I learned how to study. I think this foundation laid the groundwork for the rest of my education. If you know how to study, it doesn’t matter the subject. When I got to high school, a lot of the ninth-grade curriculum was a repeat for me as we had already covered it in my seventh and eighth grade classes at Mason Prep. I also felt my study skills were better than a lot of my high school peers, which gave me an edge as the material became more challenging. These study skills continued to aid me through college and into med school. Learning in medical school is often compared to trying to drink from a fire hydrant, so the ability to synthesize large volumes of material efficiently is crucial for not falling behind.
What were the biggest challenges you faced on the journey to becoming a doctor?
I think facing adversity and dealing with disappointments along the way have been my biggest challenges on the journey to becoming a doctor. I am very competitive by nature so I like to succeed in everything I do. Obviously, it is not possible to be good at everything in life. Learning how to deal with those times when a subject or procedure did not come easily to me was a process, and I’m still working on it.
What do you enjoy most about your work today?
I love what I do! I feel very lucky to be able to say that as I know not everyone can. Often, patients present to Rheumatology when other physicians can’t figure out what they have. I love the challenge of trying to put the pieces together to figure out the diagnosis. But the absolute best part of my work is that I get to care for people and hopefully make them better. It is very rewarding.
How do you balance your roles at MUSC as you practice medicine as well as teach?
MUSC is a teaching hospital so I get to interact with learners at different levels each day. I work with medical students, residents, and fellows. This is another aspect of my job that I really enjoy. By teaching what you know to others, it enables you to help/reach so many more people.
We note that within your specialty of rheumatology you have an emphasis in researching and treating scleroderma.
How did Mason Prep’s emphasis on the worth and dignity of every person influence you as you grew into adulthood and chose a career?
From the time I started at Mason Prep in first grade, the teachers, administrators, and principal knew my name. There was always an adult greeting me in the hallway and asking me how things were going. These people really cared about me and wanted to see me succeed. This made me feel valued as an individual. I strive to practice medicine like this as well so that all my patients, regardless of disease process or circumstances, feel valued and like someone cares for them.
What would you tell professional colleagues at MUSC and nearby Roper Hospital about Mason Prep School as they consider a private school for their child?
Mason Prep undoubtedly shaped me into the person I am today. The influences that elementary and middle school educators have on children is enormous. I found Mason Prep to be a nurturing environment where I was able to thrive!