Making a Difference Through Surgery: Graham Donald '01

Growing up with a nurse for a mother and an OB-GYN for a father, Graham Donald, MD ’01 was meant for a life in healthcare and helping others. Today, Graham is Chief Resident of General Surgery at University of California, Los Angeles.

“I have wanted to be a doctor since I was a kid. It was never really a question,” said Graham, who entered Community School in fourth grade. “There is no more direct nor intimate way to help someone and to connect with someone than as their doctor.”

Helping people is a daily occurrence for Graham. As a general surgeon, he is trained to treat a variety of surgical problems from benign issues like infected gallbladders to complicated cases of cancer. He is also involved in trauma surgery, pediatric surgery, and vascular surgery. 

“My favorite part of my job is operating,” he explained. “I love the problem solving involved in getting a patient through an operation. Surgery is unique in that it is both a mental and physical exercise.”

After graduating from Columbia University in 2005 with a BA in Spanish literature, Graham earned his MD in 2009 at University of Southern California. He did his residency at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and then moved to Salt Lake City, Utah for a two-year vascular surgery fellowship. Once complete, Graham will have had 13 years of training.  

With fond memories of his time in the Wood River Valley, Graham said he is considering moving back to Idaho after the fellowship ends.

“I loved my time at Community School, particularly the teachers. They left a meaningful imprint on me and really affected how I perceive and navigate the world to this day,” he said. “They trusted us intellectually and let us work through things independently.”


This profile was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of CS Magazine.