Unconventional College of Medicine students show work/life balance is possible

HERSHEY, Pa. — The road to medical school is not always a straight path. Some students enter medical school with several years of influential life experience.

On May 20, 145 medical students graduated from Penn State College of Medicine, prepared to enter the next phase of their medical education as residents. This year, graduates were asked which classmates stand out as the best examples of College of Medicine values. The overwhelming majority nominated Benjamin Abney and Laura Brubaker.

Both students took the road less traveled to medical school, entering the College of Medicine after more than a decade in the workforce and while raising their own families.

Laura Brubaker previously worked as a labor and delivery nurse at Women & Babies Hospital in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Most recently, she served as an HIV program coordinator before entering medical school to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology. She chose the College of Medicine based on recommendations of physicians she worked with, as well as its proximity to her family, good schools and outdoor activities.

The college’s strong humanities program also aligned with her interest in public and population health. The introduction of a systems curriculum, which focuses on population health and patient socioeconomics, gave Brubaker and her class the opportunity to help patients navigate the health care system.

“It taught me the importance of becoming a well-rounded physician,” Brubaker said.

She applied to medical schools while expecting the second of her three children, demonstrating that it’s possible to balance work, education and family life.

“I think anyone who wants to be a doctor and have a family, who desires something like what I have, would be able to do it,” Brubaker said.

Benjamin Abney spent 15 years in the U.S. Navy before enrolling in the College of Medicine to specialize in anesthesiology, He believes his military background not only trained him to persevere through the challenges of medical school, but also helped him appreciate the discipline required and the leadership he witnessed at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Learn more about the journeys that led Brubaker and Abney to medical school in this Penn State Medicine article.

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Last Updated May 23, 2018