President Aoun Recognizes Bouve Graduate and Commencement Class Marshall Nicole Torchia - Health Sciences
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Nicole Torchia

President Aoun Recognizes Bouve Graduate and Commencement Class Marshall Nicole Torchia

Speaking with teenagers about health topics such as sex education can be uncomfortable for almost anyone. Nicole Torchia, BHS’16, can attest. She led these conversations with Boston public high school stu­dents as a member of Northeastern’s chapter of the Peer Health Exchange, an orga­ni­za­tion whose mission is to empower young people with the knowledge, skills, and resources to make healthy decisions.

Torchia acknowl­edges that the con­ver­sa­tions took her out of her com­fort zone. But they also enabled her to dis­cover a pas­sion for patient education.

This fall, Torchia will enter the physi­cian assis­tant grad­uate pro­gram at Yale as one of its youngest stu­dents. But she’s hardly intim­i­dated, instead cred­iting Northeastern’s expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­ni­ties in clin­ical work and public health with preparing her for the program’s rig­orous curriculum.

Here, she dis­cusses her expe­ri­ences at North­eastern and how they pre­pared her for a future as a clinician.

What was your most sig­nif­i­cant learning expe­ri­ence at Northeastern?

My most sig­nif­i­cant learning expe­ri­ence at North­eastern came from a stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion I’ve been in for the past four years, Peer Health Exchange. It’s a national non­profit that trains col­lege vol­un­teers to imple­ment a health cur­riculum in public high schools that lack funding for health edu­ca­tion. Not only did standing in front of a group of teenagers each week take me out of my com­fort zone and teach me valu­able public speaking skills, but it also helped me dis­cover what I want to do in my career. Having con­ver­sa­tions with under­served teens about health topics like sex helped me dis­cover that I have a pas­sion for patient edu­ca­tion and public health, both of which I can tie into my future career as a clinician.

Where did you work on co-op and what were those expe­ri­ences like?

I com­pleted my first co-op at Mass­a­chu­setts Eye and Ear as a new­born hearing screener in the Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­eral Hos­pital nurs­eries as well as a nerve-monitoring tech­ni­cian in the oper­ating room. I screened each baby before being dis­charged from the hos­pital and coun­seled fam­i­lies when their new­borns didn’t pass the hearing test.

In the oper­ating room, I worked closely with sur­geons by mon­i­toring facial nerve and recur­rent laryn­geal nerve func­tion during surg­eries of the ear, parotid gland, and thy­roid. I got to sit in on surg­eries and notify sur­geons when they were get­ting close to a nerve in order to pre­vent facial or vocal cord paral­ysis. I learned a lot about the dynamics of an oper­ating room while being a patient’s extra eyes and ears during surgery, which was a really neat experience.

For my second co-op, I worked as a med­ical assis­tant at New Eng­land Hematology/Oncology Asso­ciates. This was a com­pletely dif­ferent expe­ri­ence in that I saw the same patients mul­tiple times throughout the week, so I really got to know them and follow their cases. I learned a lot about being com­pas­sionate and patient while inter­acting closely with med­ical oncol­o­gists and nurse practitioners.

How did North­eastern pre­pare you for suc­cess in such a pres­ti­gious grad­uate program?

My co-op expe­ri­ences were a crit­ical part of preparing me for Yale. In order to apply, most pro­grams require more than 1,000 clin­ical hours. Now with more than 2,000 hours I will be entering my pro­gram as one of the youngest, if not the youngest, stu­dent because my co-ops have given me more than enough hours and expe­ri­ence without needing to take a gap year. Co-op has also given me the oppor­tu­nity to work in var­ious clin­ical set­tings, both inpa­tient and out­pa­tient, and having valu­able expe­ri­ence in clin­ical set­tings is key.

My cur­riculum in the health sci­ences, with its strong focus on public health, has also pre­pared me because Yale’s PA pro­gram has a strong emphasis on working with under­served pop­u­la­tions. My courses have given me a back­ground in health dis­par­i­ties, under­standing com­mu­nity needs, and population-level changes that impact more than individuals.

What is your advice for next year’s incoming class?

Con­tin­u­ally net­work, pursue oppor­tu­ni­ties beyond your co-ops, and main­tain your con­nec­tions. A lot of oppor­tu­ni­ties can come from talking to people who do what you are inter­ested in. By doing this, I had an oppor­tu­nity to assist a sur­geon with thy­roid cancer research and an oppor­tu­nity to do a quality assur­ance project through the Amer­ican Society of Clin­ical Oncology. Doing your job well and being willing to help in capac­i­ties beyond your job descrip­tion go a long way. I think this really stood out when I applied to grad­uate schools and gave me a lot of talking points in interviews.

What is your ulti­mate goal after you grad­uate from Yale?

My ulti­mate goal upon grad­u­ating is to figure out what field I’d like to work in, although I’m leaning toward a career in oncology. I’m hoping that my men­tors and expe­ri­ences at Yale will help me find a good fit. I plan on pur­suing my master’s in Public Health in the future so that I can work beyond clin­ical set­tings and tie in ways to meet the needs of larger, diverse populations.

Date: 05 12, 2016 | Category: News |