Fresh off her graduation from Tufts University School of Medicine in May of 2018, Emily Mackey is currently a first year general surgery resident at University of Massachusetts Medical School. When she's not performing surgery, Emily enjoys cooking, skiing, running, reading, and playing the violin with the LSO.
Emily grew up just outside of Boston, with a violin always in tow. In 2010, she graduated from Amherst College with a B.A. in Russian. While studying, she was Principal Second and Soloist with the Amherst Symphony Orchestra.
Her passion for medicine is matched by her adoration of music, each requiring great practice and patience. "Without question, violin has shaped who I am today...excellence in both fields comes from years of dedication and training."
We asked her a few questions about her life, music, and medicine.
How has playing music impacted your own life and your career?
I’m currently a general surgery intern and during the residency application process last year, I thought a lot about how music has shaped my life and career decisions. I think what drew me to surgery, in part, are the similarities between the practice of surgery and the practice of music. Beyond the obvious parallel of working with one’s hands, excellence in both fields comes from years of dedication and training. I find it very satisfying to work at a musical challenge, whether it is a technical obstacle, building stamina, or understanding the musical phrasing, and then working with others to put the pieces together into a larger performance. This is similar to the process of surgical training; one starts with the basics and then builds on those skills, adding details and deeper understanding of the clinical situation. Both require focus, commitment, and the ability to work closely within a team to be successful. I’m grateful that violin has helped me develop these skills.
Have you ever felt a sort of struggle between music and your career and why?
Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, so I’ve always just assumed that it will be continue to be part of it. Time constraints are more pronounced during residency training, but I’m hoping to play as much as I can during the coming years. I find it helps me unwind after a long day, and I get great satisfaction working on etudes and pieces and discovering new bits every time I play.
How did music help to develop your own growth as a person?
Music has been one of the formative experiences of my life. Without question, violin has shaped who am I today. During high school and college, I had the opportunity to play with very talented colleagues; their focus and drive helped me push myself to become a better musician. I learned to apply the skills that I have developed as a musician, like focus, dedication, and collaboration, to other areas of my life. Through the various music programs and schools I’ve attended, I have also met wonderful people, many of whom remain dear friends today.
Why did you join the LSO?
I joined the LSO during medical school as a way to continue violin and to get involved in the Boston music and medical community. I grew up in Boston and had heard about LSO, and was excited to audition. It is a really good fit for me and my interests – I have the opportunity to play with talented musicians, learn more about the Boston medical community, and continue to do something I enjoy. Music has always been such a big part of my life, and it’s satisfying to be able to continue.