Laura Nezworski

Major: Peace Studies, Chemistry         
Minor: Spanish
Year of Graduation: 2003
Graduate School: Medical College of Wisconsin
Current Position: Resident Physician, University of Colorado Health Science Center, Obstetrics and Gynecology

What path did you follow to arrive at your current job?
I did it pretty traditionally, college to med school to residency, no real breaks in between.  This is good because I will thankfully finish my training before age 30; but I know a lot of people who took time to do other things between college and med school, and they felt more ready to dive into the long haul of med school and then residency.

What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
There are a lot of ways to make a difference in the world, each of us has to find something we love and that challenges us to keep learning and growing.  If medicine does not do all of those things for you, the long road to get there, the busy and long hours of training, and the intensity of taking care of sick people can be overwhelming, and it is not for everyone.

What skills are important in your field?
Communication, compassion, confidence, a cool head, humility, and attention to detail.

What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your job? What is most challenging?
The cool thing about my job is the variety.  I'm in the clinic, the hospital, the operating room, and on labor and delivery.  I take care of pregnant patients, cancer patients, perform benign gynecologic surgeries and procedures, laparoscopy, robotics, and everything in between.

What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
Alternative spring break trips exposed me to people from all different walks of life: students I wouldn't have otherwise met, organizers working for non-profits and shelters in positions I hadn't imagined even existed.

Studying abroad gave me an appreciation for cultures different from my own and began my true learning of the Spanish language (speaking with native speakers as opposed to worksheet exercises) which is something I use almost daily in my job.  After my experience traveling abroad in college, I was without trepidation when I signed up on my own to spend a month in Guatemala furthering my Spanish skills as a medical student, and now am a confident traveler, even when I'm flying solo. 

Close relationships with my professors inspired aspirations to future options in basic science, social science, and/or medicine and everything in between.  It is so important to have people that know you give you advice on what options are available to you as you try to decide where you might fit into the world.

I had a great connection with one of my oncology patients a few weeks ago, who was reading an author whom I discovered in one of my peace studies classes in college.  It was an author whom I think is only widely known among peace-types and theologians, and I felt that she and I connected in a way that we could not have in the confines of our doctor-patient relationship. 

Another story that comes to mind is a patient from East Africa whose husband and mother were upset about some aspects of her care, which were impossible for them to understand culturally.  After spending an hour on an interpreter phone in a family conference using some skills I had learned from my mediation and conflict resolution class, we came to an agreement and salvaged the care-provider-patient relationship.