Community is a cornerstone of the educational experience at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University, and Nicole Lieser, a CSB senior psychology and biology major from Sauk Rapids, Minn., has felt that the supportive relationships she has formed are what have made her time here so remarkable.
"Any experience here seems outstanding just because of the friendships and relationships formed at this school," she said. "You may hear that we are our own little community a lot, but it is the closest thing to the truth. I absolutely love that aspect about this school."
One particular place on campus where she has found community to be so extraordinary is within the pre-physician assistant program.
"The students in the program are like everyone's backbone," Lieser said. "There is no way one could get through this program or any other pre-professional program without them."
She has found this support system to be significant in helping her to succeed.
"Whether it be forming study groups, discussing frustrations, being there for someone who feels like they won't succeed, or even being there to celebrate the success of a test, we are one big group that knows we all are there for one another," she said.
Working in a hospital has allowed Lieser to learn many things about patient care and medicine that she would not have had the opportunity to experience in a classroom setting.
Lieser also has found that the professors have helped to build upon the community aspect of CSB/SJU and of the pre-physician assistant program.
"Not only can you go to them for help, but many times you don't even have to talk with them about school related problems," she said. "A lot of times they ask you about what is going on in your life because they truly are interested in their students' lives outside of school as well."
According to Lieser, professors are not only sources of advice, but also friends.
"My anatomy and physiology professor put together a soccer team full of students in his class as well as himself," she said. "Then he entered us in a World Cup tournament in the spring. Professors truly make your experience here noteworthy and fun!"
Lieser has also found a prominent community outside of her program, particularly through clubs and sports. She is involved in Joint Events Council, academic clubs, volleyball and soccer intramurals, soccer and softball teams, and volunteering.
"The clubs and intramurals on campus are incredible," Lieser said. "They are the best way to meet so many other people on campus! The clubs are amazing because they provide you with a connection to others with the same interest, and they give you a great resource for studying and helping out in the nearby community."
Lieser found such opportunities to be outstanding because helping out others, especially patients, is a passion for her.
"Patient care is the number one reason why I am so interested in the medical profession," she said.
This is what led her to choose the pre-physician assistant program.
"Physician assistants' reputation with patient care is unbelievable," Lieser said. "So I felt this was a career I could be really satisfied and happy with in life."
And soon Lieser will be embarking on the next stage in her road to becoming a physician assistant. Since she will not be starting physician assistant school until fall of 2008, she has some significant plans to fill her time until then and help build upon her medical experiences.
"I will be leaving for Africa with a group of about ten students from CSB/SJU to help volunteer in Uganda in health related clinical areas and education areas," she said. "Once I return in June 2007, I will be working at the St. Cloud Hospital on the Orthopedic and Neurology floor as a patient care assistant."
Photo left: As a PCA, Lieser has been able to not only become familiar with patient care, but also has been able to discover that this career path is right for her.
(Pictures are from Lieser's work as a PCA at the St. Cloud Hospital.)
Major: Psychology and Biology
Pre-physician Assistant program
Nicole's advice for new PA students
The best piece of advice I could give for those students just entering into the program is to gain experience.
I have been working as a PCA on the Orthopedic and Neurology floor at the St. Cloud Hospital since my sophomore year, and I could never have learned the things I have learned about patient care and medicine in the classroom like I have learned working in the hospital.
The best part is not only becoming familiar with patient care and working with a team in a medical environment, but also it will help you to see if this is a career that would make you happy in your life.
Photo above: Lieser has gain invaluable experience by working as a PCA on the Orthopedic and Neurology floor at the St. Cloud Hospital since her sophomore year.