For three years, Sharon Klapec has doubled as a College of Medicine student and paramedic. During the week she attends classes and rotations, but on the weekends, she returns to Pittsburgh to save lives. The fast-paced, ever-changing environment of emergency medicine is what suits Klapec just right.
“I enjoy everything about being a paramedic, honestly. I really like that no day is ever the same and no call is ever the same. I go into work and I really don’t know what is going to happen; it could literally be anything. I think it’s cool because you find yourself in so many unexpected situations where you have to think on your feet and use what you know to piece together information,” says Klapec.
And working in emergency medicine as a physician feels like a natural extension.
Setting a foundation
Klapec graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in emergency medicine, where she gained a number of certifications, like becoming a paramedic, along the way.
She originally wanted to be a pediatrician and started her undergraduate career as a biology major. Discovering the emergency medicine program was “one of the coolest, most serendipitous things to happen to me,” shares Klapec.
Exploring different options
Now in her third year of medical school Klapec has completed clerkships in surgery, internal medicine, emergency medicine, psychiatry, family medicine and Applications of Clinical Medicine – an opportunity for students to shadow different health care professionals. Later this year, she will complete rotations in obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics.
“I’m trying to keep my mind open, especially throughout third-year rotations. So far, I have liked every single rotation I’ve completed, but when I got to my emergency medicine rotation, I was like, ‘Wow, this just feels right,’” she explains.
Preparing for the future
With her fourth and final year of medical school approaching, Klapec is taking time to reflect and look towards the future.
Scheduling fourth-year rotations is both a little anxiety-provoking and exciting for Klapec and her classmates, she says. ”We’re just starting to figure out what specialty we want to go into and explore next year. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to dig deeper into emergency medicine, then also branch out a little more into other specialties to round out that knowledge that our third-year clerkships have given us a glimpse into.
“Third-year kind of opens the door, then fourth-year and beyond gives you the chance to walk through and see that there’s a whole other world out there.”