Grad Student Runs the Gamut From Medicine to Music
Published: Friday, February 21, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014 01:02
Unable to choose just one subject, Nick Stukel decided to major in biology and minor in both business and music during his undergraduate years at Creighton University.. After graduating from the Jesuit university in Omaha, Neb., he enrolled in Georgetown’s M.D./MBA program. Not only is he now simultaneously pursuing two advanced degrees, but he has also started Strums & Strides, an initiative in which he aspires to be the first medical student — and one of the youngest people ever — to run a marathon on all seven continents. Through this initiative, Nick also hopes to raise financial support and awareness for Musicians On Call, an organization that brings live and recorded music to hospital patients.
Why did you decide to come to Georgetown?
For me, it came down to either staying at Creighton or coming out here. I wanted to stick with a Jesuit school, and I really liked how Georgetown approached medicine — the idea of caring for the whole person and looking at causes of poverty and applying that to medicine. And with potentially wanting to go into policy, D.C. was a great fit. I came out here and visited, loved it, and now I’m here. I absolutely love it so far.
What is the M.D./MBA program?
It’s a five-year program. I’ll do three years of med school, take a year off, do the full MBA program during that year, and then come back for the last year of med school.
What motivated you to get your MBA while going to medical school and what are your future plans?
I got involved in student government during undergrad. However, for a while, I thought about just going into business. But after talking to some advisors, I realized that there were opportunities within health care to be involved in hospital administration or even going into health care policy. I want to go one of those routes and getting an MBA sounded like a good option. In an attempt to make health care more sustainable since it’s not sustainable the way we run it now, I hope to gain an understanding of business and apply that to help make medicine better and more affordable. I want to practice medicine for a while. Right now, I’m thinking cardiology, family practice or emergency medicine, and then I do want to get involved in either hospital administration or health care policy.
What inspired you to run a marathon on every continent?
I struggled for a long time deciding whether I wanted to pursue music professionally or go into medicine. For me, my entire life has been trying to strike a balance between the two. I just came up with this idea that it would be really cool to run a marathon on every continent and use that as a way to raise awareness for how music can impact medicine and health care. I knew of this organization called Musicians On Call, and I decided that I could raise awareness for this organization by running a marathon on every continent and starting up an initiative called Strums & Strides.
What is Musicians On Call?
Musicians On Call is an organization that began in 1999. They set up visits where volunteers will go into hospitals and play for patients in their rooms. It’s like bringing a live concert or a live musician to a patient’s room. It’s a great organization.
Which continent are you most enthusiastic about?
I’m stoked for Antarctica. I think that’ll be great. This summer, I’m going to Thailand in Asia, and then Tanzania in Africa. I’m actually climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa, a few days before the marathon, so it’ll be a lot physically but running with the giraffes should be really cool. I don’t know where I’m going in South America or Europe yet; I’m trying to space the marathons out.
What’s your favorite part about running marathons?
I love the last 200 meters. It’s one of the best feelings in the world to have gotten through the pain. Sometimes your knee hurts or your hip hurts, but to get through that and see the finish line and that last stretch is one of the coolest feelings in the world.
How do you train for marathons?
I do it a little differently. One of my best friends is actually a dietician and personal trainer, so she’s helped me a lot with training. I will start at around 10 miles one weekend, and then every two weeks, I’ll add two miles to that. I usually start about two and a half months beforehand and go all the way up to 22 miles a couple weeks before the marathon.
What are your goals for your new initiative, Strums & Strides?
The two big goals of Strums and Strides are: (1) to raise money for Musicians On Call, and (2) to raise awareness about the power of music in medicine for both patients and their healing process, but also for med students and physicians and how music can be utilized to cope with the stress of their profession. I’ve been doing a lot of research on the power of music as a stress reliever and the power of music for healing patients and the evidence behind that. It’s really gaining a lot of momentum right now. I’d really like to use this as an opportunity to help bring that to the forefront of people’s minds.