Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Nicole Ruszczak

ruszczakName: Nicole Ruszczak

Occupation: Medical Student

Education (UR and additional): Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering; Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Current job title: Medical Student

Current city/state of residence: Philadelphia, PA

Community activities: Surgery Club, Volunteer Activities


Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

Because of the biomedical engineering program, and the wide variety of classes offered.  I also really liked the small class sizes.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was very involved with BMES, the Biomedical Engineering Society.  I held a few leadership positions in this club and learned how to delegate tasks as well as how to work together as a member of a team.  It was also a lot of fun to plan social and academic events for my fellow classmates, and to get to know engineering students in other years.  I was also a member of a sorority, and made many close friends that I am still in contact with today.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I started medical school at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. I have been interested in medicine since I was a teenager, so choosing to go to medical school was an easy decision for me! I also think that my Biomedical Engineering background helped me make an easy transition to med school.  It made me familiar with a lot of current issues in medicine and basic anatomy, and also helped me develop an excellent work ethic and great study skills.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am currently in my last year of medical school, and am now interviewing for General Surgery residency positions. I will be starting my residency in July.  I really enjoy working with my hands, so being able to operate and see patients is something that is very exciting to me. I also love the technology involved in surgery and am excited to see what new modalities will be developed in the future.  I also think that surgery is a challenging field, and it will push me to continue learning and studying during my entire career.

Where would you like to be in five years?

In 5 years, I will be finishing up my last year of General Surgery residency. I think I will most likely also be applying for a fellowship in Vascular Surgery. I hope to work for a hospital in the New York or Philadelphia area.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

It is very difficult to find time for yourself while in medical school, but it is very important to do so!  My friends and I would plan occasional “study breaks” where we would do something fun – Like go out to dinner, see a movie, or go the gym.  Even though it sounds counterintuitive, I believe that taking these breaks from studying actually helped me do better on exams.  I also spend a lot of time with my boyfriend, who is also in medical school.