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A Shadow of Her Future Self

July 2007

She'd long assumed her future would be tied to the world she saw in her biology books. But Julie Arensdorf '07 wouldn't realize her career until she was face to face with her patients during the well-regarded clinical research and job shadow position she'd earned last summer at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

"I was trying to make sure I wanted to go to medical school," was part of what she hoped to learn by the end of her four-month stint at the university, she says.

While at Nebraska, the biology major from Dubuque, Iowa, researched the files of pediatric patients with cystic fibrosis, a fatal, genetic condition that frequently causes pulmonary infections. She developed a database on the different kinds and administration of maintenance drugs given to cystic fibrosis patients.

More significantly, through the doctor she shadowed, Julie experienced the heartache of parents finding out their baby had inherited the disease. Going through that was the most difficult part, she says. "I could see how overwhelmed the parents felt."

Not that she hadn't some familiarity dealing with patient concerns. During three summer trips to Haiti in high school through Mission to Haiti, a missionary program that Julie paid for herself, she also worked alongside a doctor in a clinic setting.

It was during her internship, however, that Julie realized that being a doctor means not only being competent in one's specialty, but also being able to establish a meaningful, trusting relationship with patients. She says that, in addition to majoring in biology, her minors at St. Ambrose in theatre, psychology, and chemistry and a concentration in pre-health will help her to be a well-rounded doctor who is both knowledgeable and compassionate.

That's right-her career choice is no longer up for consideration: Julie enters medical school at Nebraska this fall.

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