Medical Student Nancy Presnick is Keeping Things Balanced
Nancy Presnick thought medical school meant studying around the clock with little time for herself. But to her surprise, that has not been the case at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM).
“Don’t get me wrong, I study a great deal,” says Presnick, “but I have been able to do more for fun, exercise, and extracurricular events than I would have thought. These activities have added to my academics and my overall well-being at school.”
NYITCOM plays a big role in helping her to keep things balanced. “The school has incorporated activities such as students and staff collaborating for exercise, encouraging students’ non-academic interests, and increased mental health resources,” says Presnick. The efforts have paid off for her. She is the Class of 2019 Student Government Association secretary and was recently appointed to the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Medical Student and Resident Advisory Panel, an distinction awarded to only 13 students in the United States.
“I am honored to be a part of this group,” says Presnick. “Standardized tests in medical school are incredibly stressful, particularly for osteopathic medical students as we find ourselves taking both osteopathic and allopathic exams.” In her role, Presnick will collect feedback from medical students and residents on issues and topics specific to the USMLE, test assumptions about the exam, and gain insight on USMLE policy issues. “I am looking forward to doing anything I can to ease or improve this experience for students,” she adds.
Now in her third year of clinical rotations, Presnick has started to think about her future career as a doctor. “I have tried to remain quite open-minded about what I would like to do in the future. It is hard to be sure you are interested in a field until you have experienced it first-hand,” she says. But one area of medicine continues to call to her. “The one thing I have come back to over and over again is primary care. I feel strongly about the power of and need for preventative medicine,” says Presnick. “I also think much of primary care speaks to osteopathic principles in that these physicians work to care for a patient across all aspects of his or her life.”
It is these principles that attracted her to NYITCOM in the first place. “The emphasis on evaluating and treating a whole person led me to osteopathic medicine,” she says. “We talk about considering the body as a whole and further than that, considering aspects of a patient’s life other than biology. What is the patient’s occupation and daily life, mental well-being, family or support system like?”
On her clinical rotations, she takes these lessons with her. “A patient on my surgery rotation, who I only knew for a few days, had a large impact on me. I had done no more than check in on her and ask if she needed anything, but when she was about to leave the hospital, she cried and hugged me and told me to take care of myself,” Presnick recalls. “For me, it has generally been these seemingly small interactions that demonstrate the significant positive impact a medical student can have on another person’s life and make all the hard work worthwhile.”
Presnick has also relied on support from others to help her as she pursues her dream to become a physician. “Often it was very hard to dedicate enough time to my life as a medical student and my life outside of NYITCOM,” she says. “I relied on my roommates and friends to reassure me that they shared my feelings. Also, my parents have always been a wonderful support. I would certainly not be here without them.”