Ilana Dickson, MD, comes from several generations of medical professionals … four generations, to be exact.
Her great grandfather graduated from Indiana University with a medical degree; the first African American man to do so at IU. Both her grandmother and grandfather were physicians who kept their practices late into their 80s. And her father and his sisters all earned advanced degrees in science-related fields.
Surprisingly, Dickson wasn't always interested in medicine. In contrast to the strong science background on her father's side, many family members on her mom's side were professional musicians. But Dickson knew music wasn't her calling either.
While completing her undergraduate degree at The George Washington University (GW) in Washington D.C., Dickson met a few medical students she could relate to.
"I used to think med students were super heroes, and I'm not a super hero so there's no way I could do med school," said Dickson. "The students at GW were like me; they didn't have exclusively science backgrounds, but were still successful in medical school."
With that inspiration, she went on to apply to medical school and received her medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine, the same school her physician grandparents graduated from, class of 1939. Dickson says pediatrics appealed to her because even the most non-compliant adult patients will most often do everything they can to help promote the health of their child.
Dickson, now practicing at Samaritan Pediatrics in Corvallis, and her husband, Mark Taylor, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon with the Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute, enjoy raising their two children in the mid-valley.
Dickson says she won't push either of her children into medicine, but with a lineage like theirs, two future physicians won't surprise anybody.