Julia Dworsky

Julia Dworsky

Share your educational background, including degree(s), institution(s), undergraduate major and graduation year(s).

Spanish Studies B.A. and minor in Neuroscience

Tell us about your work. This may include job title or organization, projects you're involved in, populations with whom you work, etc.

I am starting medical school at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences this summer. After graduating from college in 2018, I took time off to study for and take the MCAT, as well as save money for medical school applications. I’m grateful for my gap years because it allowed me to gain a deeper exposure to medicine and explore my passions in reproductive health. After graduating I worked as a Patient Advocate at Whole Woman’s Health of the Twin Cities, where I gained hands-on skills in providing holistic patient care. I also worked in the M Health Fairview Maternal-Fetal Medicine Center to learn about different aspects of pregnancy. I had the opportunity to incorporate my knowledge of Spanish into my internship with the Between Us clinic where I created sexual health educational material and social media content in Spanish and English.

What led you to this profession? Tell us about your path.

My path to medicine started with my mother. When I was about ten, she went back to school for a career in nursing. I loved helping her study pathophysiology and practicing injection skills on oranges, and realized I liked her school way more than my own. This experience shaped my motivation and I knew early in life that I was interested in a healthcare profession. After shadowing an internist, I determined that I wanted to pursue a career as a physician. I enjoyed the interdisciplinary problem-solving nature of his job duties, felt that I would be constantly learning and growing in this position, and would have the ability to enact meaningful change in the field. My path is a bit nontraditional in the sense that my educational foundation was based in the liberal arts. I’ve studied Spanish my whole life and wanted to maintain that during my undergraduate education. It was important for me to continue my language studies, and taking Spanish classes provided a sense of balance against the rigors of pre-med courses. I strongly feel that a liberal arts education creates more holistic, empathetic providers, so much so that I even wrote my senior thesis on the importance of the humanities in medicine!

What is your advice for current CLA students interested in a healthcare career?

This is what I’ve come to understand- medicine involves a life-long passion for learning and continuous development. If you are working in healthcare it will become a very big part of your life, but your entire identity is more than just “being pre-med”. This is why being in CLA gives you an advantage - you can be premed and explore other passions and interests. As a Spanish major, there were times I compared myself to people with traditional health career majors, but looking back on it now I wouldn’t change a thing. My background in Spanish is something unique I will bring into my future practice and has impacted my vision for a career. Another piece of advice is to advocate for yourself and the future you desire. There is a whole network of professors, physicians, and advisors at your fingertips who will be there to support you. I’ve gained so many amazing opportunities from this school, and most of them resulted from me sending emails to people at the U doing work I was interested in. People want to share their knowledge- having a mentor, or connecting with an older student, who has made it through these hurdles makes a huge difference.

Describe your participation in extra-curricular activities, volunteer work, research, or study-abroad opportunities during your undergraduate years that helped you prepare for your current role.

There is a mentality amongst students pursuing a career in medicine that you have to be involved in a specific list of activities to be a competitive applicant. In my experience, I was involved in several extracurricular activities for a longer period of time. This worked better for me because I was able to gain more experience and in-depth knowledge of what I was doing, and when it came time for applications I had a lot to write about.

The first job that shaped me best for being a physician was working as a summer camp counselor for five years. While not directly connected to the medical field, it was a job I was extremely passionate about and trained me to become a leader. Many things I learned are indirectly related to being a good physician and will shape the way I interact with patients and providers. Working there was also a way for me to recharge during the summers, and take time doing something I love.

I worked in a neuroscience research lab because I wanted to learn more about addiction following the loss of a close friend to an overdose. Many students might feel obligated to do research to “check a box,” but if you aren’t interested in the research you are doing you will have a very surface-level experience. If you are passionate about your research, you will be more inclined to seek deeper involvement in the lab, which is how I learned the most. I also studied abroad in Spain, and it was amazing to see the places in person that I spent my life learning about. I loved the immersive setting of living with a host family, and it taught me to live out of my comfort zone.

What experiences did you have that confirmed your choice of profession?

Working at Whole Woman’s Health allowed me to take on more responsibility and leadership in providing holistic, patient-focused care. I learned many tactical skills in medicine and also developed my voice as a caregiver. This job fueled my passion for reproductive justice and has shaped my future goals for a career in medicine. The physicians I met confirmed my choice of profession because I was able to see firsthand the kind of leader I wanted to be, and the life I wanted to live.

My internship with Between Us taught me about different patient-care models that are rooted in the community needs, and how to address systemic factors that affect health. This experience showed me the different paths I could take as a physician. I know that in the future I want to be a provider who can work with Spanish-speaking people to help bridge language barriers in medicine and serve underrepresented communities.

How have aspects of your identity shaped your experience in this profession?

Being a Spanish speaker is a big aspect of my identity but it took me a long time to understand fully how my background will help me be a better physician. In my thesis for my Spanish degree, I explored the connection between art and science in medicine, a topic that has defined my education. In my investigation of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, a neuroscientist and artist, I learned that having a connection to the humanities and art will serve me in this profession. It allows me to think about the perspectives and experiences of others in addition to my own, and look at the larger social, cultural, political, economic forces that affect a person’s life and health, which is an important mindset to have in being a good provider for all people.