A Q-and-A with Andrea Wenzel, a fourth-year medical student and blogger
Apr. 3, 2014
IUSM students provide a glimpse into the trials and triumphs of medical school at Tour the Life, a blogging project overseen by the IU School of Medicine Office of Admissions and IU Communications.
In a continuing series, InScope presents occasional Q-and-As with these bloggers, who take time out of their already busy schedules to share a look “behind the scenes” into the life of a medical student at the IU School of Medicine.
This week’s blogger profile participate is Andrea Wenzel, a fourth-year medical student at the IU School of Medicine. A native of New Harmony, Ind., Wenzel will graduate from the IU School of Medicine this year to serve a transitional year at the Mayo Clinic, where she has also been accepted into the ophthalmology residency program. She also holds an undergraduate degree in chemistry and English literature from Butler University.
When did you first realize you wanted a career in medicine?
I first knew I wanted a career in medicine during my freshman year of high school. I love science and am very inquisitive so medicine seemed like a great fit.
Why did you choose to pursue your education at the IU School of Medicine?
I chose to go to the IU School of Medicine for a variety of reasons. First, it’s a great school. There are so many opportunities given to IU students, and I knew that IU graduates were successful in all fields of medicine. Second, it was my home state school, so in-state tuition played a big role. I didn’t think it would be worth it to pay out of state tuition for many schools. I applied early admission to IU.
Why did you choose to specialize in ophthalmology?
I first became interested in ophthalmology when I was in high school. I was introduced to an organization called ORBIS, a philanthropic organization run by ophthalmologists focused on preventing blindness worldwide. I was initially captivated by the ability ophthalmologists have to make a huge difference in the lives of their patients. Also, ophthalmology lends itself well to working abroad, which is something I am interested in. Once I got to medical school, I was afraid I wouldn’t enjoy the science aspect of ophthalmology. Luckily, throughout medical school, I became fascinated with the eye. It is an organ like no other in the body; the pathology is incredibly complex, and many systemic diseases affect the eye, which allows ophthalmologists to know about the entire body. The surgeries in ophthalmology are also short. Lastly, there is a great balance between time spent in clinic and time spent in the operating room. It’s the perfect specialty!
Have you participated in any research during your time at IUSM?
I've participated in several different research projects during my time at IU. The summer after first year, I participated in the Student Research Program in Academic Medicine, a 10-week basic science research program that allowed me to work on a project with the Department of Ophthalmology. At the end of the 10 weeks, all of the students presented posters and a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation about their research, which was a great opportunity to present posters and research in front of an audience. During my third year, I spent my vacation month doing a research elective -- again with the Department of Ophthalmology -- and got the chance to present that project at a national meeting that summer. During my fourth year, I spent another month with the Department of Ophthalmology. I'll be presenting that work at a national conference this May. Even if you don't plan to focus on research in your career, I think the experience is immensely important. I even wrote a blog post about it.
What do you feel is the most important (or one of the most important) traits for a future doctor?
The trait that I hope to have and feel is important is to remember is what an honor it is to practice medicine. Patients are the most important part of what we do as physicians. They trust us to care for them when they are ill and to have their best interest in mind. I hope to never take that responsibility lightly. Even when it is the middle of the night and we are exhausted, we still need to remember that it is an honor to assume care for a patient any time we walk into the room. We need to remember to listen and advocate for our patients.
What’s your greatest memory at the IU School of Medicine?
The first two years of medical school are really tough; you study more than you knew you could, and it is exhausting. Nevertheless, some of my favorite memories are studying with my friends late at night, quizzing each other, laughing; it's a special bond you form with your medical school friends! But, I think my greatest memory is my Match Day. Almost all fourth year medical students match into residency in March, but ophthalmology is an "early match," so we find out in January. Since ophthalmology programs are so small, each program director calls their new medical students to welcome them into residency. I was in lab that day and knew I would get a phone call around 11 a.m. I was so anxious I could hardly focus. Right at 11 a.m., my phone rang and I ran out of lab to answer it. When I looked down at my phone, I saw the number was from Rochester, Minn., so I knew I had matched at the Mayo Clinic!
What are your other interests?
I participate in a few student interest groups and extracurricular activities. My main involvement in medical school has been with the Ophthalmology Student Interest Group. This year, we’ve worked really hard to establish an eye clinic at the IU Student Outreach Clinic, a nonprofit clinic for low-income Indianapolis residents. We're working to help this patient population get free glasses, which is a huge need. Some of my interests beyond medicine are fitness and cooking. I’m always making something new in the kitchen. Right now, I’m experimenting with lots of different cake and icing recipes since I'm making my own wedding cake! I also try to work out five to six times a week and love all different kinds of fitness like running, cycling and yoga. I'm currently doing a 30-day yoga challenge at my local studio.
What's next for you?
Up next are some big life changes! I'm getting married in May, graduating from medical school and moving to Minnesota to start residency. I hope to gain as much medical knowledge as I can at Mayo. I think the atmosphere there will really push me to be my best and learn as much as possible.