From Surgery Patient To Aspiring Doctor


Ryan Henderson /  Instagram @ryan_hendy

Ryan Henderson /Instagram @ryan_hendy; Infinity for Men by Cherokee


My name is Derek Nicolas (@Dereknicolas8 on Instagram), and I wanted to share my personal story as to why I am pursuing my MD and what gives me the desire and motivation to keep on going towards my goals.

I am frequently asked by my peers and coworkers why I want to be a doctor. What makes me so determined to sit down and study countless hours, give up plans to review anatomy, get up early to read over notes, and spend my off-time volunteering and working in a hospital? I shadowed an immunologist who told me that everyone has a story that keeps them motivated to do whatever it is that they love, and for that reason, I’d like to share my story with you.

I am from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and have a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences in the College of Health Sciences at Marquette University. During my time at Marquette, I was involved with a lot of extracurricular activities: I was on the executive board for the Biomedical Science Student Association, serving as VP of the Peer Mentorship program of Health Sciences, a member of the American Medical Student Association, a rodent surgeon in the mental health research center at Marquette, a student teacher at a Milwaukee public high school, a Taekwondo black belt instructor, a volunteer/trainer for Aurora Healthcare, a medical scribe, tutor, cadaver anatomy student, a pediatric operation medical observer, a CNA in the neurological Intensive Care Unit at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, and I made sure to spend some time in the gym along with playing intramural sports to keep my body in shape.

Growing up, I was always involved in sports, my favorite being soccer. My coaches would tell my parents that I used to be able to run on the field without ever showing a sign of fatigue. During 7th grade, there was a rapid decrease in my ability to run, and I found myself short of breath with even the slightest exertion. My primary care physician at the time had a paternalistic approach towards my shortness of breath and was certain that it was due to the spring allergy season. When Flonase was not alleviating my worsening symptoms, my father decided it was time to see a specialist.

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