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Medical Student Spotlight: Nicholas Henkel

Medical Student Spotlight: Nicholas Henkel

What experiences at Miami did you have that helped you on your path to medical school?

There are so many it’s hard to even list! There were so many things at Miami that, though I didn’t realize it at the time, were really formative for me in my journey to entering medical school. One of the things that I am most grateful for is how much pure opportunity there is as a pre-med to get a rich experience. When I got to medical school, I felt so prepared and was so amazed at how much independence and growth Miami afforded me in comparison to the people I started school with. At Miami, I fell in love with research because I was given the space to question and become independent in a laboratory setting. I fell in love with teaching while being a tutor through America Reads and through being an SI for Organic Chemistry. I was able to gain leadership opportunities and networking in almost every extracurricular. Even my coursework – from Statistics to Biochemistry – set a strong foundation for the preclinical curriculum in medical school.  Of course, the PMD Courses were essential in crafting my application and preparing me for the application cycle.

What made you interested in pursuing medicine? What are your career goals?

I had always wanted to be a medical doctor since I was a kid.  I had been in-and-out of hospitals as a child, so I think the connection I felt to hospitals and to doctors “planted the seed.” Pursuing research happened coincidentally. I didn’t know what it meant to get involved in research when I started undergrad. I first worked with Dr. Quinn in Psychology. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the process. After Dr. Quinn, I went on to work with Dr. Isaacson in Biology. With Dr. I, my true love for neuroscience came to a head. In the summer between my Junior and Senior Year, I worked for an MD-PhD in a Department of Neurology, and it was here that I learned how I can combine medicine and research. I felt so connected to how my preceptor asked clinical questions, thought about clinical questions, and applied them in a controlled-research environment.  After that, I knew that is how I wanted to practice medicine. I took a gap year to continue research with Dr. I and then matriculated at Toledo for a dual-degree program! At the moment, my short-list for specialties is neurology (either critical care neurology or neurointerventional), neurosurgery, or psychiatry.  I want to stay in academics and practice in a large, academic medical center where I can see patients, teach, and conduct research. I’ve also toyed with the idea of pursuing an administrative role as a Dean in medical education.

How do you hope to help the students of the Mallory Wilson Center in the future?

I want to connect with young pre-meds that, like me, had no idea what it took to get to medical school. I come from a family without anyone in the medical field. Starting Miami as a pre-med was so overwhelming and challenging for that reason – I had to figure a lot out by myself. I’m forever indebted to the people (namely, Christian Curatolo, MD (Miami 2016, currently an Orthopedic Surgery Resident), Kelly Rodman, DO (Miami 2016, currently an Internal Medicine Resident), and Cecelia Favede, MD (Miami 2016, currently a Pediatrics Resident)) that helped me get here. So, to fully answer, I want to help the students of the Mallory Wilson Center find their story, their passion, and their way to medicine. I have spent lots of time and energy learning how to mentor and connecting with students since I graduated from Miami. It is always an honor to connect and help.

What piece of advice did you find useful for your path of medicine?

Find your individuality, find your passion, and let that guide you. Being pre-med is hard and medicine is a very challenging profession. However, I think it is also the most beautiful profession. I am amazed everyday by humanity and what your patients – complete strangers – tell you and entrust in you. If you have your individuality center-stage, let that shine through in your application and in your practice. If you’re passionate about community health and women’s health – find the opportunities that let you cultivate that. Don’t let the cookie-cutter “I’m doing this to check off a box” guide you.