Stephanie Frank has turned in her producer’s chair for medicine’s white coat.
The 32-year-old Lexington, Kentucky, native is among a new crop of first-year medical students settling into their first two weeks at the UC College of Medicine. She joins 170 colleagues who bring diverse backgrounds and represent 17 states.
Frank spent 10 years in Southern California, initially as an undergraduate in film studies and business economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, before heading to Los Angeles for a career in filmmaking.
"I moved to Los Angeles right after school and I started working as a production assistant entry level, working for a couple of television stations and doing some assistant editing," says Frank during a break from orientation activities in the CARE/Crawley Building.
"Finally, I went on to join some of my old school friends to make a couple of independent films and so I was producer for that. We raised the money ourselves and we made the budget and hired the people. It was wild."
Frank is listed a producer of "Delphinium: A Childhood Potrait of Derek Jarman" a 2009 short film that won the New Jersey Film Festival's Kodak Award for its portrayal of Derek Jarman, a British director outspoken about his fight for gay rights and personal struggle with AIDS. Jarman died in 1994.
"We filmed part of it in Los Angeles and part of it in England around London and in Dungeness at Jarman’s Prospect Cottage," Frank says of the film. "I remember the first time I heard the word delphinium—it is mentioned in Jarman’s final feature, ‘Blue.’ It’s a type of flower with a beautiful blue color. His mother sparked his love of gardening early on, and he continued that passion throughout his life.”
Frank also helped produce a second film, "Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean" that's now available on Netflix. It was initially a short film that later was turned into a feature film.
"It was sort of a fantasy retelling of James Dean's life that we filmed in Joshua Tree Park in Southern California and around Orange County at this place called the Boom Boom Room which is now closed. It was right near Laguna Beach and it's beautiful down there,” says Frank.
After the short film was produced but before it became a feature length film, Frank gave up her short but memorable career in film to take a job at UCLA.
"That was sort of just to keep myself afloat," says Frank, noting Southern California's expense. "I worked at a place called the ‘Longevity Center’ at UCLA which is connected to a geriatric psychiatry division. They hired me because I have skills in graphic design. I ended up working with geriatric psychiatric patients and others from the community on a program called Senior Scholars."
Frank placed people over 50 in undergraduate classes at UCLA. "We put them in classes with people much younger than them to encourage an intergenerational experience. It was a lot of fun to do that," says Frank, who helped meet any special needs of older students to ensure their success."
"Through the experience working with the patients and people around the community I realized that even though film was fun and I got to travel that I liked working with patients more," says Frank, who also assisted a memory training program at UCLA to help people with Alzheimer's and dementia.
Frank's experience with the program convinced her that medicine was a field in her future. The apple wasn't falling too far from the tree since Frank had been exposed to the medical profession as a child. Her mother was a nurse, while her father was a doctor and her grandfather was a psychiatrist.
"It was around me all the time, but when I was very young it was too much for me to see people in pain so it took a lot of growing up before I could handle it," says Frank. "I called my mom one day and just let her know I had decided to go into medicine. She said she always knew that I would one day."
But going into medicine required some preparation. "I didn't have any science courses and it was totally not on my radar 10 years ago," says Frank. "I had to get the physics, biology, chemistry and all of that."
She returned to Kentucky to attend the University of Kentucky where she got an undergraduate degree in human nutrition. She graduated summa cum laude in the honors program. After looking at various medical schools, Frank decided to stay closer to family and attend UC.
"When I first applied, I applied because it was an hour-and-a-half from Lexington. My grandfather is 94 years old. I still hang out with him and buy him his lactose free milk. I wanted to be near him. So when I first applied, the application is $25, I did it on a whim.
"But the more I learned about this school and the more I visited the more I realized this is a really great place to go. Cincinnati won me over,” says Frank."
After the first week of orientation Frank’s view of UC has only gotten better.
"I am amazed actually. I was afraid that I might not like it here, but it's a great school and it’s really prestigious," says Frank. "I was afraid people would be very intellectual and not as social as they are. They are so social and friendly.
"The city has some amazing places. You know that restaurant, Bakersfield. The guacamole is better than anything I’ve had in Southern California. Every restaurant I have been to here is really good."