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Three Future Doctors – Jill, Abbey, and Ivana
By Promise Partner
Reprinted from the Spring 2012 Olney Today:
Women. Olney Friends School graduates. Future doctors.
“The best decision I did not make,” says Abbey Huff ‘04, referring to her parents’ choice for her to attend Olney Friends School. For Huff and two other young female medical students, Jill Crum ‘01 and Ivana Jaksic ’10, Olney helped determine their paths toward careers in medicine.
Two Local Girls, Two Future Osteopaths
Huff and Crum are both natives of Barnesville, the small town in Ohio where Olney is located. “Olney had so many different people that it was easy to feel more comfortable than I had ever felt at the public school,” says Crum. Huff adds, “Olney helped me grow in ways I wouldn’t have if I continued in public school.” She credits Olney’s academic curriculum for fostering her critical thinking skills and a love of learning. Through Olney, both women were connected to Quaker colleges; Crum graduated from Earlham College in Indiana and Huff from Haverford College in Pennsylvania.
Now a fourth-year student at AT Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Mesa, Arizona, Crum plans to complete her residency in obstetrics and gynecology. Huff began medical school at Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine this fall in Athens, Ohio. She does not yet know what her specialty will be, but she has a “vision of being a facilitator of wellness rather than a provider of paternalistic medicine.”
Both women have chosen osteopathic medicine – a distinct form of medical practice that recognizes the body’s ability to heal itself, uses a patient-centered, holistic approach, and focuses on injury and disease prevention. Crum explains, “I opted to attend a medical school that is attempting to change medical education for the better. Students in my medical school have to be very self-driven, which I definitely began to practice at Olney.”
Crum’s decision to pursue a career as an obstetrician began with an experience through Olney during her senior year. “I went on a school trip to El Paso to work with a Catholic organization building straw bale houses for immigrants. I loved El Paso and the border region so much that I participated in the Border Studies program at Earlham during undergrad. I chose an internship at a lay midwifery clinic called Maternidad la Luz because it was the most medically related. I absolutely fell in love with birth and knew right then that I wanted to be an OB.”
In Serbia, Specializing Early
Though Ivana Jaksic is from Serbia, rather than from down the road like Jill Crum and Abbey Huff, she, too, appreciated Olney Friends School’s diverse community: “I was able to be friends with people from all around the world, to learn about their cultures, countries, and languages, but I was also able to be friends with American students.”
Jaksic came to Olney after two years of medical high school. In Serbia, students focus their studies earlier than in the United States and medical high schools can be compared to pre-med programs at US colleges. Jaksic returned to Serbia after her graduation to attend University of Pristina Medical College in Kosovska Mitrovica, Serbia.
“Teachers at Olney helped me to improve my English,” Jaksic says. “Now that I can read, write, and speak English, I’m able to find a lot of information about anything that I need. Recently we had an anatomy project in my college where we were supposed to find certain information about the central nervous system. Our teachers didn’t give us any sources, so we had to find them ourselves. I found information because I know English, and because my teachers from Olney taught me how and where to look for information that I need.”
High School Research and Life in Community
All three women researched medical issues for their graduation essays, culminating research papers written by each Olney student during their senior year. Crum wrote about pediatric AIDS, Huff about medical ethics, and Jaksic about plastic surgery. “While writing [the graduation essay], I explored and learned a lot about medicine,” Jaksic says. “I always knew that I liked medicine, but my research was the most important proof that I chose the right profession for myself.”
In addition to academic opportunities, Crum, Huff, and Jaksic refer to the personal growth they experienced as members of Olney’s community. “I surprisingly enjoyed Quakerism. I find peace in silence now and sometimes even crave it,” says Crum. “Olney is teaching its students to be responsible, honest people and loyal friends. Olney’s community life teaches students to adjust to each other, to help, and to share everything with their friends; it teaches students how to live like one big family!” says Jaksic.
Sharing their advice for those interested in medicine, both Crum and Huff encourage young people to use local resources, volunteering at a hospital or shadowing a doctor. Huff says you should question the reasons for your interest and ask whether the medical field is something that will make you come alive. “If you like it, go for it!” encourages Jaksic.
At Olney Friends School, these three women found academic support, Quaker values, social connection, and opportunities for independent research that helped them begin exploring lives of service in the medical field.