Open book . . . Oksana Babchenko, SOM ’14

April 27, 2011

Each Wednesday, the Daily Voice introduces you to a student or resident at UMass Medical School. We’ve asked our subjects to answer a few questions that might reveal a little of their personalities. If you know someone who you’d like to see profiled, let us know at


Oksana Babchenko, SOM ’14, from Shrewsbury (originally from Moscow), is a graduate of Brown University. She is a member of Blackstone House. 


Why did you choose medical school, and why UMass Medical School? 

I always thought: either doctor or famous actress. My mom lied to me and said I could do both, just as long as I do doctor first. “That’s how Robin Williams got his big start; he was a really good doctor and then just became so funny and famous!” Turns out she was just confused with Patch Adams.

UMass Medical School is the secret jewel of Massachusetts, with its unbeatable reputation and price combination. 

Describe yourself in six words or fewer. 

I think all people are really children (who want to get tickled by friends and by life). 

If you were stranded on a deserted island, name three things you would want. 

A dog—or if no living things were allowed—a very realistic stuffed animal, pictures of my family and the biggest book of plays ever published (there would be a lot of character development, maybe even rivalry between me and the stuffed animal). 

If you could have dinner with a famous person, living or dead, who would that be and why? 

Anton Chekhov, who is definitely my biggest 1800s crush. If you Google-image him, such fire behind those spectacles! But despite his deep, intuitive way of understanding people, he was rumored to be very afraid of women. (To be read in fierce Russian accent) I’d like to put him in small room, put on lots of eyeliner and ask him why. (Oh boy, these answers are coming out so strange at 12 a.m.!) 

What person or experience made you decide to pursue a medical degree and why? 

I wanted to learn about what is interesting to me (health, the body, how it all works together) and I love being with people, so it seemed like the perfect choice. 

What is the most interesting or challenging job (paid or unpaid) you’ve ever had, and why? What did it teach you about yourself? 

My favorite job was definitely working is Seoul, South Korea, teaching high school students science and English. There I realized that the most important role of a teacher is not instilling information, but inspiring a belief in the students that they are great. And that, of course, they can learn whatever they want. And that even beyond learning, they are just simply wonderful human beings who should ask questions, make jokes and even occasionally interrupt class if a brilliant unrelated thought dazzles their brains! It was so rewarding and such a pleasure to be a part of that process that I hope to continue teaching (and learning) throughout life. 

What would your fellow students be surprised to learn about you? 

I have previously milked a cow; it was nice. 

If UMass Medical School had not been an option, what would you be doing right now? 

Teaching or writing or painting or acting, most likely even poorer than now. 

If you could change the world as a physician, what would you like to do? 

Shift our focus more to preventative medicine and patient-centered outlook (no more 15 minute sessions!) and conduct more research into things like this: 

Most surprising thing you’ve discovered about medical school? 

There is a lot of happiness. 

Most surprising thing you’ve discovered about Worcester? 

So many potholes make you such an agile driver! And the food is great!