April 25, 2019
Dr. Dani Guiffre ’10 likes to think that a career in medicine chose her and not vice-versa. In her mind as a child, becoming a physician was a fairytale, born of her intense desire to help people and make a difference.
Later, after logging many hours volunteering at hospitals and nursing homes — after spending time with doctors, nurses, therapists and the like — she knew. She couldn’t imagine a more important place to dedicate her time and effort.
Knowing that the next stop would be medical school didn’t mean Guiffre had a clear vision of how to get there. She only knew there were things she wanted to learn and experience and be part of during her college years — and she wanted to be well-prepared to enter medical school.
“Whether I wanted to spend a semester studying abroad, or take a skiing course or apply to medical school, I felt supported in every endeavor by McDaniel.” Guiffre says that she never once felt limited at McDaniel. “I was one out of probably two or three people in my class who wanted to apply to medical school after college, so I was overwhelmed when I not only had amazing professors who fully supported my goal, but also had the connections and knowledge of opportunities to prepare me for when I would eventually have to submit my application.”
Now a pediatric endocrinology fellow at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Guiffre graduated from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 2015 and became board certified as a pediatrician after completing her residency in 2018.
“The best part of my and I think every physician’s job is using the knowledge we have gained to help someone through physical, mental or emotional pain,” she says. “Another great joy of being a physician is being able to discuss and work through a case that doesn’t fit the typical medical fold and try to figure out what the underlying problem is without it being obvious.”
Guiffre credits her advisor, Biology professor Ralene Mitschler, with helping her find a research opportunity in a biology lab at the University of Pennsylvania as well as a job “scribing” at the local emergency room. There Guiffre gained crucial experience in medicine even before setting foot in medical school.
Ally, Dani and Juliann Guiffre
Her family has always been her rock-solid support, especially her two sisters, Juliann and Ally. The sisters are triplets — identical triplets, an extremely rare occurrence. Juli graduated from McDaniel with Dani and manages a veterinary practice in Urbana, Md. Ally, who is married to McDaniel grad Andy Carr ’11, graduated from Hood with a degree in early childhood education and is currently a stay-at-home mom with their 2-year-old son Caleb. Although careers and marriage have placed miles between them, the three could not be closer.
“To know I had that unwavering, unfaltering support no matter how well I did, was invaluable,” she says of her family, particularly her sisters. “On the other hand, I really struggled at first being separated from them, and having to find my own path in life that didn’t necessarily involve them.
“Now I think we have become closer than ever because of how our lives have begun to individually evolve, and I cherish the days and hours I get to see or speak with them in a way that I never did growing up.”
McDaniel’s strong sense of community is a favorite memory.
“Fifty years from now, I’ll remember McDaniel for the relationships I was able to make and how personally invested I felt the whole faculty was in my intellectual development and future,” she says. “I’ll forever be thankful for that level of dedication, which is not possible at a larger institution.”
Guiffre offers somewhat surprising advice to today’s McDaniel students interested in medicine. Aspiring physicians should seize opportunities to be involved in things other than those that are related to science and medicine — and reach out to whomever they can to develop whatever interests they have, she says.
“In my experience, the best physicians use skills they have obtained outside of medical school to connect the most with patients,” Guiffre says. “The best part about being pre-med at McDaniel is that no one is pressuring you to do ‘all science, all the time’ — take advantage of that while you can!”