Katherine Nichols ’09

JOB TITLE: Internal medicine resident physician
ORGANIZATION: Rush University Medical Center
LOCATION: Chicago, Illinois
GRADUATE DEGREE: M.D., Tufts University School of Medicine

What was your first position after college? I spent a year doing pulmonary research at Yale University while I was applying to medical school. I acquired this position through a Yale-trained physician I did research with one summer during college. After the year at Yale, I started medical school at Tufts in its Maine Track MD Program, which offers students a unique opportunity for clinical training at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Has a liberal arts helped you in shaping your career? At Trinity, I studied hard sciences as a premed student and also French and music. Even though I knew I wanted to go to graduate school and pursue a career in health care, having the opportunity to study other fields made me more well-rounded and intellectually diverse. 

During my time at Trinity, I had the opportunity to pursue experiences that expanded my interest in medicine and strengthened my application for medical school. The Biochemistry Department served as my platform. I had the opportunity to participate in research (as the only student working under a professor), which allowed me to get to know a faculty member very well and demonstrate my abilities. This relationship resulted in an extremely important letter of recommendation. I also spent a semester during my sophomore year interning at Hartford Hospital. This was my first experience working in a hospital setting and in an operating room. I also was a violinist, and Trinity allowed me to study at The Hartt School and to receive academic credit.

What advice would you give to Trinity students to prepare for a position in your field? It is okay to have a wide range of interests and to take advantage of the wide range of opportunities a liberal arts education provides. However, I think it also is important to demonstrate you have a focused career path and a trend throughout your education that is supplemented by internships, summer work, and extracurricular experiences. Start to take part in work and other experiences that will set you apart from other medical school applicants early. Take advantage of Hartford Hospital being down the street. Work in low-income health clinics where you’ll be able to get more hands-on experience, and volunteer in one of the numerous neighborhood projects. Hartford is an excellent place to do volunteer work that also can be relevant to a career in health care.