Christina Vietor '08
University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
I always believed that pursuing a career in which science and interpersonal interactions were intertwined would be a true privilege. During my time at Mount Holyoke, I can remember being fascinated by the basic sciences, ultimately majoring in Biological Sciences, and imagining a life in which this knowledge could be used to reach people at their most basic human states. My initial interest in medicine inspired me to get my EMT-B certification during my sophomore year and volunteer with the Mount Holyoke Medical Emergency Response Team. During this time, I still was unsure of what my role would be in the incredibly diverse world of health care, but I was pretty sure that a career in health care was what would ultimately be right for me. I needed to keep exploring.
My questions were answered during the summer between my junior and senior years at Mount Holyoke. I was extremely fortunate to spend seven weeks in San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic with Proyecto ADAMES, a non-profit organization that seeks to decrease infant and maternal mortality. Spending my days with women as they labored without medication, without reliable electricity, and without plumbing was an experience that truly opened my eyes and ultimately changed the course of my life. Hearing the stories of these women and having the gift of being present for the most incredible experience in the lives of most people, (bringing another life into this world), brought me incredible clarity. Upon returning to Mount Holyoke the following fall, I decided to apply to medical school.
I had wonderful mentors during my time of exploration, and I discovered that the osteopathic track was most aligned with my goals for the type of care-provider I one day hoped to be. I wanted to be a hands-on doctor, and I wanted to see my patients in the context of who they are as whole people, as fellow human beings. Being a college student is a very special time, full of questioning and discovering who you are as both a professional as well as an adult. During this time of flux, it is so important to explore all that you can, be thoughtful, and appreciate the mentors in your life as you discover what excites you. Ask them how they decided on their path, pick their brains, and explore what is important to you as you navigate your own dreams.
As a current second-year student at University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, I continue to be inspired by the diversity and opportunity to make a difference that exists within the field of medicine. It is truly a gift to study what you love, and to be invited into the lives of others, as well as to be surrounded by dedicated and passionate colleagues, mentors, and teachers who share your passion for providing great care. Even on the difficult days, we are the lucky ones. As I progress down the long road of training to be a physician, I am consistently reminded of how well my education at Mount Holyoke prepared me to pursue my dream, and I am thankful.
At this point in my education, I hope to pursue a career in Family Medicine or Obstetrics and Gynecology, potentially with a fellowship in Maternal Fetal Medicine. Most recently I spent six weeks at the Family Medicine Residency Program at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine, which again opened my eyes to the many opportunities that exist. I am discovering that choices and decisions will continue to present themselves, and this path continues to take unexpected turns! Medicine truly does provide an open mind with a lifetime of learning.
With regard to advice to students thinking about a career in medicine, I would say: explore and don’t be too hard on yourself! Ask questions of those you respect, but remember that this is your life. There are so many ways to pursue a meaningful career, and every role is important to the success of the team. Try on as many different hats as you can, and pay attention to that part of you that lights up when you find what you never knew you were always meant to do. Remember to respect the process and not to close any doors. You don’t have to know exactly what your path will be right now, and that is okay! Open yourself up to the opportunities that will present themselves. Also, remember to take good care of yourself, because without being healthy yourself you will not have very much to offer your patients. And, if you don’t love it, it is okay to rethink your plan- it is never too late. Now is the time to try a little bit of everything so that you can come to a place where you are well-prepared to make a commitment that is thoughtful and made for the right reasons. And, with all of that work, remember to smile and take some deep breaths.