Career Ready Bootcamp!

The week before the semester started the Knowlton Center brought 18 sophomore and junior students from back to campus to participate in a 3-day intensive career-readiness program. The students came from all over Denison representing different majors and extracurricular activities all with one goal: to prepare for internships and careers after Denison.

The Students all came together and participated in several preparation workshops with our career coaches. These workshops focused on writing resumes and cover letters, networking, LinkedIn Profiles, and interviewing. Additionally we were all able to participate in a voice training session with Voice Coach from Available Light Theatre, Acacia Duncan. Acacia demonstrated techniques to add confidence to your voice and covered the dos and don’ts of presenting yourself vocally.

The program also included a day business trip to Columbus. There the students toured companies from several different industries and were able to gain a perspective of professional life in Columbus, a hub of employment for recent Denison grads. The trip culminated with a networking event with several Denison alumni. The students were able to practice their networking skills and make professional connections with Denison alumni.

The last day of the program gave the students a chance to apply everything they learned in a series of mock interviews. They were given a chance to perfect their resumes and choose from a list of sample internships to interview for with our career coaches and other professionals around the college. This allowed the students to interview and receive valuable feedback. Later the students participated in a Designing Your Life Workshop, a program offered by the Knowlton Center in conjunction with the Red Fram Lab developed from the strategies of Design Thinking out of Stanford. The workshop allows you to plan several versions of your future and what steps you need to take and when, and is intended to keep your mind open to innovation.

This “Career Ready Bootcamp” is an idea that the Knowlton Center has been thinking of for a while now but was finally able to bring it to fruition this year. The program was a success and we hope to bring it to Denison annually so we can do what we do best: career preparation!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Nursing

A path to health professions: nursing - beverly-fleuter-200x300.png image #0Beverly Fleuter ’13 (Johnson)

Role: Registered Nurse

Professional Schools attended: Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (2014); Arizona State University

Fun Fact: I have been to all 50 states!

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
Many of my family, friends, and mentors thought I would be a good nurse and that I would enjoy the professional development involved. I did A LOT of background research and preparation to decide how and when to go to nursing school. I knew I was doing the right thing when I enjoyed my prerequisites and was excited about the nursing curriculum.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
I get to work face to face with patients and families every day. I also get to participate in the science of nursing by doing research. Nursing has dozens of trajectories that all lead to very different lifestyles and a variety of specialties. I could decide to go into nursing informatics and help engineer the programming we use in the hospital or I could go work in the OR as a scrub nurse. There are so many options.  

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Remembering self-care. Nursing is a physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging job, especially at the bedside. Fortunately, many organizations provide support with this aspect.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.       
I work a 12 hour shift, three days a week. I get to work at 7AM and leave around 7:30PM. I get a report on how my patients did overnight and then implement treatments for them throughout the day in conjunction with the medical team, social workers, and physical therapy.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
Just like there are many career trajectories, there are also many different educational trajectories. Diploma programs, Bachelors, Masters, Doctoral (Clinical and Research), and Certificates. Talk to someone who has pursued nursing as a “second degree” or a second career to give you guidance on what will be the most cost effective degree for your goals!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Med Student

Denisonians in health professions: med student - andrew-groff-234x300.png image #0Andrew Groff ’16

Role: 2nd year medical school student

Professional School attending: Penn State College of Medicine      

Fun Fact: My favorite book is The Alchemist, written by Paulo Coelho. I try to read this book twice a year to keep me focused. I encourage anyone who has not had the opportunity to read this book to pick up a copy; it is well worth your time.

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
Going into college, I had an idea that I wanted to go into medicine because of my love for the sciences, but I really kept an open-mind to see if other career paths interested me. I have always been fascinated by how medicine has the unique ability to heal. I also wanted to make a difference in the lives of others, and I knew that medicine would give me a unique opportunity to do so. Throughout Denison, I had friends and mentors through classes, clubs, and running cross-country who attended medical school prior to me. They provided me with advice and gave me an honest view of what it really takes to be successful in medical school. They shared stories of making strong and meaningful relationships with patients and how determining diagnoses is similar to solving a complex puzzle. To me, there are very few professions in which people entrust their life and death issues, happiest moments, and deepest secrets because of the sense of trust developed within the patient-physician relationship. My decision to pursue medicine was solidified by my liberal arts education at Denison through demonstrating the importance of both basic sciences and the humanities.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
My favorite aspect of attending medical school is having the opportunity to fully dive into the medical sciences and see the clinical correlations to what we are learning. Although I loved learning from many different disciplines at Denison, learning the science behind the medicine and making connections from the classroom to the clinical cases is extremely gratifying because it feels like you have made it. Being a pre-med student can be a difficult experience because of the stigma that is associated with it; however, in medical school, there are so many more opportunities to shadow, do clinical research, and even scrub in to surgery cases. Being in clinic, developing an understanding of how the greater healthcare system functions, and feeling like I can make a difference for patients, even as a first-year student, have been my favorite aspects thus far.         

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
I think the most challenging aspect of medical school is learning to balance one’s time between studying while still maintaining a life outside of school. It is easy to find oneself spending every hour of the day studying with the same people in the medical school library. Medical school can become very isolating because of the hours required to truly master and retain the seemingly never-ending material. There is always something new to be learned and if you are not actively doing something, it feels as if you are falling behind. It is a definite learning curve, but completely manageable. From my experience, I found it to be crucial to keep in touch with friends and family to maintain relationships outside of the medical school bubble. This keeps one grounded and help one realize that there is a life outside of medicine.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.
An average day for me, consists of going to class in the morning from 8AM-12PM. We have lecture for 2 hours every day about selected topics from the current organ block that we are studying. Depending on the organ block, we also have assigned anatomy dissection lab in place of lecture. At Penn State, we also do something called Problem Based Learning or PBL. This is a collaborative learning process where we are assigned into small groups of about 8 students. We are then assigned two cases to read over on Monday morning and develop learning objectives or questions that we have about each case. Then we discuss one of the cases on Wednesday morning and the other case on Friday morning. These are roundtable discussion where we help one another understand the basic science and pathophysiology of certain disease states in order to have a more comprehensive understanding of the subject. We also take two other classes called Medical Humanities and Science of Health Systems on Tuesday and Thursday mornings respectively. These are great courses that broaden our medical education, but they also serve as a break from the basic science from PBL and lecture. Once per week we also have a Clinical Skills class where we learn about patient interviewing skills and physical exam skills. There will often be a standardized patient at each session who volunteers to allow us to practice our interviewing and physical exam skills.

On most afternoons, I essentially have self-directed learning, in which I am responsible for reviewing lecture, researching the cases from PBL, and reinforcing concepts from previous weeks. I often spend a few hours after lecture reviewing the content from that day’s lectures and then take a break and go to the gym. In the evening, I try to get ahead by pre-reading the next day’s lecture or researching for PBL. Then, I wake up and do it all over again.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
I cannot emphasize the importance of finding a mentor early on in one’s college experience. I know I sound like Dr. Weinberg with the significance of mentorship, but mentors can be truly influential and transformative. A mentor does not necessarily need to be someone in the sciences per se, but someone that you trust and will continue to give you feedback as you grow and progress through your Denison experience. I was very fortunate to have great mentors who showed me how I can continue to improve and the importance of lifelong learning. I found the Center for Career Exploration to be a great resource to connect one with Denison alumni in the healthcare field to shadow and seek advice from. In my experience, these physicians helped show me how meaningful and fulfilling being a physician can be and how strong of an impact you can have on the lives of your patients.

Further, I really encourage working together with your pre-med peers and becoming friends with them. Although there is inevitable competition within classes as pre-med students, it is much better to take a collaborative approach so that everyone has the best opportunity to succeed. I believe that it is a good idea to start this early because much of medical school focuses on team-based and collaborative learning. Since clinical medicine relies heavily on team-work, the ability to work well with others and develop strong relationships with colleagues is essential. Finally, do your due diligence and self-reflect on the reasons you want to become a physician. Make sure that you are choosing a career in medicine because it will bring you happiness and you want to be of service to others. Medical school is a long-haul, requires a lot of dedication, and exemplifies the idea of delayed gratification. There are days that it may not seem worth it because other friends may not be as busy, but continue working toward your goal because I assure you, the sacrifice is worth the reward.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Clinical Psychology

Denisonians in health professions: clinical psychology - kristine-durking-221x300.png image #0Kristine Durkin ’14

Role: Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student

Graduate School attending:
West Virginia University Clinical Psychology Ph.D., Child Clinical Area, expected graduation in 2021       

Fun Fact:  I was in Denison University’s co-ed a cappella group DU-Wop

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
I truly believe the factor that has the strongest impact on my success in my field, thus far, is having incredible mentors that have not only provided training and knowledge, but also unwavering support. This started with my incredible mentors at Denison University. I first became interested in Clinical Psychology in Dr. Erin Henshaw’s Abnormal Psychology class. I had participated in a number of research projects, including Dr. Nida Bikmen’s phenomenal studies, but I was drawn to Clinical Psychology when I recognized it is a field in which I could simultaneously conduct research that could have a tangible effects on people’s lives, as well as work one-on-one with individuals in need of help navigating their world while coping with mental health difficulties.

After graduating from Denison University in 2014, I began working as a research assistant at Wayne State University’s Pediatric Prevention Research Center where I gained valuable exposure to pediatric behavioral health intervention development and implementation and grant-funded research. In this role, I worked on Dr. Elizabeth Towner’s NIH-funded pilot randomized controlled trial that examined the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of a family and home-based weight control intervention compared to standard of care on obesity reduction for preschoolers whose families receive WIC services. Additionally, I worked on a study funded by the Society of Pediatric Psychology that primarily aims to identify whether food-related budgeting skills, purchasing patterns and routines differentiate caregivers of obese and non-overweight preschoolers from low-income backgrounds. Finally, I assisted with a project that was a part of the Diabetes and Obesity Team Science (DOTS) program, which was a transdisciplinary research initiative that had a central goal of being a catalyst for interdisciplinary diabetes and obesity research in Detroit. Collectively, my experiences at Wayne State University reinforced my interested in pediatric psychology and furthered my training in conducting research on family-based behavioral interventions for children with chronic illnesses, and on health disparities.

I am currently in my second year as a doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at West Virginia University. As a Ph.D. student, I fill a number of roles. I am a graduate research assistant for Dr. Christina Duncan’s HRSA-funded grant focusing on developing a pictorial asthma action plan for youth and families. I also serve as a therapist in the community clinic at WVU, the Quin Curtis Center where I regularly meet clients with a range of mental health concerns. Additionally, this semester I will be teaching undergraduate Abnormal Psychology to WVU students. I will defend my thesis entitled Examining the Association Amongst Expected Costs and Benefits, Peer Use, and Self-Reported Use of Electronic Cigarettes in Adolescents this fall. My future plans for my career include conducting research in the promotion of adherence to pediatric medical regimens and the development of family-based interventions to improve disease management and bolster children’s psychosocial adjustment to chronic illness.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
My favorite aspects of my profession are working with multidisciplinary teams to develop research questions that can have lasting effects on pediatric care in medical settings. Families face a number of challenges when a child has a chronic illness and the field of Pediatric psychology has so much to offer.

I also enjoying working with children and teens in a clinical setting. I believe that working with kids facing mental health difficulties at a young age allows them to develop strategies to cope with challenges and ultimately be successful and happy in the future. I learn so much from my clients about resilience and overcoming challenges, and I am so grateful to partner with kids to help them reach their goals.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
The most challenging part of my work is advocating for mental health research and practice in medical settings.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.       
My typical day involves attending graduate courses (i.e. Behavior Therapy, Psychometrics, Biological Basis of Behavior), meeting with my research team about our ongoing projects, completing tasks related to my graduate research assistantship, teaching my undergraduate course, and conducting behavior therapy sessions my clients and their families.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
The best advice I can give students is to ask for opportunities. So often, we wait for opportunity to come to us, or we do the very best work at the tasks we are instructed to do, but don’t always advocate for ourselves to take on more responsibility. Denison University prepares us well to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and hard workers. With these skills, you are already ready to navigate the world of research and practical work associated with clinical psychology. All you have to do is ask for the opportunity to start.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Occupational Therapy

Denisonians in health professions: occupational therapy - erin-williamson-300x298.png image #0Erin Williamson ’06

Role: Occupational Therapist (OT)

Graduate School attended: Occupational Therapy M.S. Program at Columbia University, graduated in 2009      

Fun Fact:  I make pottery and am working on setting up my own in-home studio

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
I began working with special needs children while still in high school, which I continued throughout college.  Then, during my sophomore year in college, I was fortunate enough to shadow a physical therapist, speech pathologist and occupational therapist at Vanderbilt University.  This introduced me to occupational therapy and I have never looked back. I enjoyed the ability of the OT to integrate daily activities which have meaning/purpose to the patient into treatment and goals for progress.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
As an occupational therapist, we have the unique ability to work in any setting/ venue (examples: hospital, school, consulting in universal design, theater settings, etc.) as well as work with any age group. I have worked in the acute care hospital setting, home health services, skilled nursing facilities and school systems. I have now been an OT for 8 years. 

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Occupational therapists are often seen as an added service and always work as part of a team. One has to ensure that all professionals we work with understand the legalities and capabilities of an occupational therapist.  You must have strong people/social skills to ensure your patients’ needs are met.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.
I primarily work in the school system with elementary to high school special needs students. A typical day entails direct service in individual/small group settings, observations of students in the general education classroom, consulting with teachers and special education staff, IEP meetings with families as well as completing daily notes and evaluations.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
Most OT programs require specific pre-requisites and shadowing an OT in the field. I would recommend starting shadowing hours as soon as possible.  As a new therapist entering the field I would recommend first working in the hospital setting.  There you have the opportunity to be exposed to numerous diagnosis/ages which then prepares you for any other area of OT you may wish to pursue.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Optometry Student

Denisonians in health professions: optometry student - rachel-reed-283x300.png image #0Rachel Reed ’13

Role: 3rd year optometry student

Professional School attended: University of Houston College of Optometry, anticipated graduation in 2019       

Fun Fact: I’ll be making my first trip to India this fall to represent US students as a student liaison at the World Congress of Optometry.

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
I majored in Psychology at Denison and truly enjoyed learning about the inner workings of the brain. I had long thought I would enter the medical field in some capacity, but felt stuck in my junior and senior year, torn between pursuing a career in psychology or going after a medical degree. I knew pursuing a graduate degree would mean devoting more years of my life to education, and incurring debt along the way, so I wanted to make sure the choice I made was the right one.  I began shadowing medical professionals in various fields to see what their day-to-day life is like.  At each place I shadowed, I tried to see if I could imagine myself working there, how my life would be, and the challenges and rewards each profession would bring. I finally met Dr. Flood from Granville, who I quickly realized was the doctor who I aspired to be. I loved how Dr. Flood had found a way to combine her passion for service with her professional training, and was able to give back as a doctor through international medical mission trips.  Hearing about these trips, and the lives they changed by giving the gift of sight, confirmed that this was the field I needed to be part of.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
There are some patient encounters that turn your whole week around. Helping a teenager transition from glasses to contacts so they can continue competing in the sport they love. Helping find the right glasses prescription for a toddler so they can finally see their parents’ faces. Helping a grandmother get glasses so she can pass her driving test and remain an independent member of society. Finding signs of diabetes or high blood pressure in the eye and helping diagnose an unknowing patient with these important systemic conditions.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Patient noncompliance. When you tell a patient they need to use drops, consult another doctor, or make a lifestyle change -or else they might go blind- and they refuse to take action. It’s difficult to watch a patient’s vision decline when there are measures they could take to help preserve it.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.       
As a third year student I split my days between seeing patients in clinic and attending classes. Monday through Friday I’m at school from 8 am until 4 pm with scheduled class and clinic, and then I often stay after to finish patient charts or study. It is a rigorous graduate program, but the program ensures we will be fully prepared to see patients on our own after graduating.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
You don’t have to study the eye before going into optometry. I majored in psychology and I have classmates with backgrounds in art, business, and engineering.  There is a wide variety of backgrounds from students entering the field, which makes each class unique and diverse. As long as you complete the required prerequisite courses, you will be considered for admission, regardless of your area of study.  What is important is showing that you’ve expressed interest in the field (i.e. shadowing a local optometrist) and are passionate and will contribute to your school. Schools appreciate when students have shown dedication to a cause important to them- either community service, research, or organization involvement- as it shows a student is likely to be an active member of the optometry field as well.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Public Health

Denisonians in health professions: public - clare-meernik-253x300.png image #0Clare Meernik ’12

Role: Public Health-Epidemiology

Graduate School attended: University of Michigan School of Public Health, graduated in 2014

Current Job: Research Associate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program

Fun Fact:
After grad school, I bought my first road bike and started competing in triathlons. Since I started racing two years ago, I’ve completed 8 triathlons, including four Half Ironmans.      

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in health sciences, but the only solid options I was aware of were becoming a doctor, a PA, or a PT. Thinking about the hours and time involved with attending medical school was not appealing to me, not to mention my dislike of blood and other gross stuff involving the body. I came across public health, and specifically epidemiology, as a career option while interning at the University of Kentucky Ovarian Cancer Screening Center the summer between my sophomore and junior years at Denison. Epidemiology is concerned with understanding, preventing, and treating disease at the population level, rather than on a case by case basis that a doctor deals with. I liked the idea that, as an epidemiologist, I would have the potential to improve health outcomes on a broad scale; for instance, epidemiologists are involved in developing cancer screening recommendations for the entire population (e.g., who should be screened and when? What negative effects result from over screening?). Once I became aware of epidemiology as a career path, I knew it was the perfect choice for me.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
My favorite part of being in the public health field is that my colleagues all genuinely care about improving people’s lives. Public health programs are continually being underfunded or even cut, at the expense of our nation’s health and our ability to respond to public health crisis such as an epidemic of an infectious disease. Everyone I have interacted with in the public health field continues to fight for increased funding of programs and enactment of policies that improve health outcomes and overcome health disparities.           

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Public health funding is often not on the top of policymakers’ budgets because the dollars and lives saved are often not seen until they are long out of office. Specifically, in my field, tobacco is considered by many to be an old issue that we’ve already conquered, resulting in severe underfunding of tobacco control and prevention programs. The fact is, more than 35 million Americans still smoke, resulting in nearly 500,000 deaths each year in the U.S. Tobacco control and prevention is a top priority in the public health field, though convincing policymakers to fund programs and enact policies that address the huge burden of tobacco remains challenging.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.
My typical day involves a variety of different projects, which always keeps me on my feet. I may be conducting data analysis related to the evaluation of community-based tobacco cessation programs, which involves descriptive statistics (e.g., What are the demographics of those who enrolled in the programs?) and regression models (e.g., What demographic and program utilization factors are associated with tobacco cessation 7 months after the end of the program?). In addition to program evaluation, I am also involved in various tobacco control research projects. For instance, I managed a study examining how the different packaging elements of little cigar and cigarillos (e.g., pack color, flavor, and warnings) affects people’s perception and use of those products. My role in the project involved developing survey items, data analysis and interpretation, and drafting a manuscript for publication.  

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
Epidemiology is a great career path for someone who is passionate about improving health at a local, national, or international level. The number of different paths within epidemiology are endless–from HIV prevention in Swaziland to cancer screening in rural Appalachia. If you are interested in potentially pursuing a career as an epidemiologist, take as many statistics and data analytics courses you can while at Denison; these will help tremendously in preparing you for your MPH. If you are nearing the end of your Denison career and have not had the opportunity to take many of these courses, don’t worry! I went into my MPH not having the opportunity to take any courses related to public health while at Denison. Many of my classmates in grad school were biology or health science majors, but many were not. Public health graduate programs are interested in students with diverse backgrounds, not just those from the health sciences. As long as you can demonstrate a passion for why you want to pursue a career in public health, programs will be interested in you!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Nursing

Denisonians in health professions: nursing - dr.-tina-andrews-parks-197x300.png image #0Dr. Tina Andrews-Parks ’05

Role: Clinical Education Specialist/ Registered Nurse

Professional Schools attended: Purdue University, graduated 2015 and DePaul University, graduated 2007       

Fun Fact: I am part of Denison Posse #1 and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
I was a very sick child. I spent most of my childhood in the Cook County Hospital of Chicago, IL because I was also uninsured. This experience directly impacted what I wanted to do in my life, and that was to be an “ambassador” for world health. This led me to Chicago Vocational High School in which I became a Certified Nurse’s Assistant at 16 years old and a Licensed Practical Nurse at 18. During my first semester at Denison, while others were having fun, I was studying to pass the state board of nursing. At Denison, I majored in communication while completing pre-professional course work. My specialty is in gerontology and Medical Surgical Nursing.  Nursing chose me. Nursing is not just my profession, it’s who I am. 

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
The field of nursing has allowed me to fulfill my love for both STEM and Liberal Arts. I love science (especially biology) as well as writing and research. I have the opportunity to experience the science of healthcare through pharmacology and pathophysiology but also train others and do public speaking workshops on qualitative matters that affect the human aspects of disease maintenance. This makes me an informed, compassionate resource for the field.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
It is challenging to see good people die in a failing system. In this field you get to know the patients and their families personally. Many times people perish for the lack of knowledge or access to care. Healthcare often blurs the lines of business and ethics and the two are very challenging to wade through. Our political environments are constantly changing and humans are directly affected every day to the point of death. Healthcare is a field that does not stay the same. Sometimes a patient can miss an opportunity for a life sustaining treatment by one day because of funding cuts or changes in legislation. It is devastating and can take an emotional toll on everyone involved.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.
There is no typical day in the life of a healthcare professional which is one of the many reasons I love the job. This job will always present you with new people, new discoveries and new ways to treat the ever evolving human.        

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
Nursing is a multi-faceted career that touches almost every aspect of the human existence. It allows you to explore, expand, and combine your many passions to make for a fulfilled career.  Nursing can open doors into fields such as higher education, law, government, pharmaceuticals, international affairs, social work, mental health, travel and even the food and drug industry. I have never regretted my choice to become a Doctor of Nursing Practice. This is my calling.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Team Physician

Denisonians in health professions: team physician - grant-jones-205x300.png image #0Grant Jones ’88

Role: Allopathic Team Physician

Professional School attended:
The Ohio State University College of Medicine, graduated in 1992

Current Titles: Team Physician-Department of Athletics and Professor- Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Fun Fact: As a team physician for Ohio State’s basketball team, I have been known to get excited at times during games.  During one game, one of our players hit a game-winning shot to win the Big Ten Title.  I was so excited that I ran onto the court before realizing that there were .7 seconds left on the clock.  I promptly ran back to the bench, but not before being caught on TV doing so.  Unfortunately, the mad shot was the ESPN play of the week that was replayed over and over again.  I could not watch ESPN for a week due to the embarrassment!

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
I was injured quite often growing up- several lacerations and broken bones.  So, I spent a lot of time in physician’s offices, particular Orthopaedic surgeons.  And, all of the physicians I met seemed to really enjoy what they were doing.  I was also influenced by my brother, who also went to Denison, four years ahead of me.  He ended up in pre-medicine and then went on to medical school at Ohio State as well.  In terms of Orthopaedic Sports Medicine, my specialty, I love sports and I love surgery, so my occupation allows me to do both.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
I really enjoy surgery, particularly challenging cases, during which you often have to be real creative.  I also enjoy covering athletic events and covering athletic training rooms.  It is very gratifying to see an athlete whom I have worked on return to his or her sport.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
The hours can be very long.  Some days, I leave at 5 o’clock in the morning to do surgery, and then have to go straight from work to cover a sporting event until 11-12 at night.  I also take trauma calls, during which I am up operating all night before having to go into work that AM.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.
Surgery usually starts at 7 AM.  I then operate until 3-5 PM depending on the day.  After that, I often cover one of OSU’s athletic training rooms until 5-6 PM.  During the school year, I often have to cover sporting events after training room.  If there are no sporting events to cover, then I return home around 6 and eat dinner with my family before getting a work out in.         

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
Spend as much time as possible shadowing physicians to make sure that this field is right for you.  Work is often difficult and long, but it is very gratifying when you can help someone.  Make sure that you are able to put the time and effort into medical school, residency and practicing medicine.  It is a lot of hard work.  Also, I would advise looking into completing summer research projects in medicine.  This certainly helps when applying to medical school.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Genetic Counseling

A path to health professions: genetic counseling - karen-raraigh-265x300.png image #0Karen Raraigh ’06 (Siklosi)

Role: Genetic Counselor

Graduate School attended: University of Maryland School of Medicine, graduated in 2008 with Masters in Genetic Counseling                       

Fun Fact: I am a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan despite having no connections to the state of Wisconsin.

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
I became interested in genetics – and specifically cystic fibrosis (CF) – while in high school.  My intent was to get a PhD and work in a lab, but spending the summer doing CF research in a lab environment changed my mind about what kind of work I wanted to do within the field of genetics. 

That summer, I learned about genetic counseling from people working around me and decided that I liked having patient interaction and a more “hands on” feel to how my work would impact a person.  By the end of the summer, I nixed my plans to apply to PhD programs and instead applied to genetic counseling programs.  It was the experience of actually doing what I thought I wanted in a career, as well as having access to people who could show me other options that helped me pick a better choice.

Identifying what you don’t want in a job is equally important to understanding what you do want, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to figure this out before investing too much time into the wrong graduate program. My summer project adviser was equally supportive and was instrumental in helping me find my current genetic counseling position, despite me having left his lab saying, “I don’t want to do what you do.”

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
The daily challenge of new and interesting patients, the speed at which the field of genetics is changing, and the incredibly smart and talented people with whom I get to interact on a regular basis.       

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Giving bad news, like a new or difficult diagnosis, is never easy, nor is having to tell someone, “We don’t know,” when it comes to predicting an individual’s future health.  Not becoming too invested can be a struggle sometimes, depending on the specific case or family.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.
My time is mostly divided amongst data curation and analysis (collecting and correcting data elements, running statistical programs, and summarizing results), writing (manuscripts, elements of grant applications/progress reports, or educational material), and communicating with or about patients (research recruitment, consulting on challenging cases, or answering genetics-related questions).  Each day may have a different mix of these elements.      

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
Find a genetic counselor to speak with (at the very least) and to shadow (multiple times)!  There are a wide variety of opportunities within the field of genetic counseling and most of us are happy to share information about what we do.  Most graduate programs want to see a good understanding of the field, and experiencing it in a “hands on” way with a practicing counselor is the best way to gain exposure.