Spotlight On: Murisa Malagic ’17 – Podiatric Medicine

Murisa Malagic

“We don’t think about our feet before we have a problem with them.”

Murisa is a third year DPM (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) student at Des Moines University in Iowa. A 2017 graduate, Murisa studied Biological Sciences with a minor in Chemistry at UVM. During her undergraduate career, Murisa worked as a RA and a building manager at the Davis Center. She also served as a volunteer mentor through the DREAM-Riverside program, which Murisa described as a “rewarding experience.” 

When reflecting on her choice to pursue a career in healthcare, Murisa discussed how her passion for medicine “clicked when [I] started scribing.” Murisa’s scribing (and, later, shadowing) experience was highly valuable, as it helped her to gain a better understanding of different medical specialties and allowed her to discern which career path was right for her. When asked why she chose podiatric medicine, Murisa noted that, “We don’t think about our feet before we have a problem with them.” She went on to say that there is a “great work-life balance” in this field, and the ability to engage in “hands-on” clinical procedures that yield “tangible” results drew Murisa to this branch of medicine. 

Upon reflecting on her time in medical school thus far, Murisa acknowledged with a laugh that “[I] never studied so much in my life.” Nonetheless, she has experienced many key moments that have “affirmed [her] choice” to pursue a career in the health professions. Murisa speaks highly of the friends that she has made and the physicians who serve as faculty members within the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery at Des Moines University. Murisa described her professors as “passionate [about podiatric medicine]” and “very willing to teach,” noting that they often address medical students as “Student Doctor.”   

Outside of academics, Murisa enjoys spending time with her friends and taking walks along one of the lakes in her town. A lesson that Murisa learned during undergrad which still rings true today was that “You still have to make time for you,” regardless of hectic schedules and rigorous coursework. When asked what advice she would give current students interested in pursuing a medical career, Murisa encouraged students to expand their understanding of the medical field by shadowing a wide variety of physicians with different specialties, stating “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to try new opportunities.” 

Spotlight on Dr. Ethan Jones

Dr. Ethan Jones at his practice in Burlington, VT.

Dr. Ethan Jones graduated from the UVM College of Nursing and Health Sciences with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2016.

After taking a gap year to complete a few additional science pre-requisite courses, Dr. Jones graduated with a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree in 2021 from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Jones now practices in a Burlington primary care optometry practice. 

Dr. Ethan Jones graduated from the UVM College of Nursing and Health Sciences with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2016. After taking a gap year to complete a few additional science pre-requisite courses, Dr. Jones graduated with a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree in 2021 from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Jones now practices in a Burlington primary care optometry practice. 

Dr. Jones found his path to becoming an Optometrist after serving as a technician at a local Burlington, Vermont optometry clinic between his Junior and Senior years of undergraduate at UVM. This was the primary experience that encouraged him to become an optometrist, slightly altering his career path that was originally focused on Speech Pathology. Dr. Jones was also involved on campus as a member of the co-ed, service based Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity. He explained this experience to be very rewarding to give back to the community and build connections with other members of the fraternity. 

When asked about his experiences in Optometry school, Dr. Jones describes the classes, labs, and clinical experience to be extremely rewarding. As a first-year student, he would attend classes from 8:00 am until noon, followed by a lunch break, then labs in the afternoon on top of studying materials. As second-year students, his cohort would attend clinics and then would be involved in clinics or shadowing experiences. The third and fourth years become focused on mo clinic and board examinations. Dr. Jones says that while the material is rigorous, it is highly rewarding in the end. One thing that stuck out to Dr. Jones was the differences in regions in the US from the Southeast to the Northeast and how this plays out in health care. 

Now in his practice, Dr. Jones reports one of the most rewarding parts of his job to be interpreting the unique conditions and symptoms of patients. He described each encounter as “not cookie cutter” and noted his focus was always on finding the end-result that works best for the patient. 

Outside of schooling and his current profession, Dr. Jones enjoys playing disc golf in the spring, summer, and fall months before the winter begins, which is when he enjoys playing board games with a group of friends. When asked about one piece of advice he would give to students, Dr. Jones shared that, in his experience, all the schooling, studying, and work is well worth it in the end. Keeping this goal in mind can be motivating for students in pre-health career paths. 


from the Winter Career Boost 2022 Keynote Speech

Image of Ashley Laporte, director of RALLY.

We asked Ashley Laporte, The Director at RALLY – an issue-driven communications consulting – to talk about being “Professional” while also being authentic to yourself and your values.

Her advice: while you need to show up on time, professionalism isn’t as much about what you wear or how you do your hair so much as it is about how you think, and how you communicate what you think.

Let that sink in for a minute.  How you think.  How you communicate what you think. This is what matters. This is how you can find ways to infuse your values and your point of view in to your day-to-day work.

Your point of view has value, so don’t leave it out.  When the boss asks you to complete a task, complete the task AND then take a moment to reflect on the task at hand.  What observation might you share / what point of view might you offer?  Some analysis of the task that 1) demonstrates how you’ve engaged with it and 2) helps your boss take action. 

Every task, no matter how small or large, presents an opportunity to add your perspective. For example, if tasked to collect the birthdays of everyone in the office, share back the spreadsheet of names & dates with the observation that most folks will be celebrating in the summer.  If tasked with taking notes for a meeting in which a brainstorm of partners failed to include key organizations who work directly with populations the organization aims to serve, submit the meeting notes with the observation that organizations serving those populations should also be considered.

These points of view should include actionable insights (e.g., recommending the inclusion of specific organizations in the example above). Actionable insights drive change; they can hold organizations accountable to their good intents in concrete and meaningful ways. By providing your point of view and your good thinking, you can feel confident that you are being authentic to yourself and how you think.  That is professional; that is what the world needs; and that is a recipe for success.

To hear more of her advice on topics such as making connections with like-minded people at work, separating work from your identity, leaving a company, and much more, watch the full keynote speech below:

Spotlight on Bhumika Patel ’18

Bhumika Patel ’18
By Samantha Smoger ’22

Bhumika is a first year Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) student at Western University of Health Sciences in California. A 2018 graduate, Bhumika studied microbiology and nutrition at UVM. She was extensively involved in Student Government and Living Well, where she played a key role in pioneering the first Fresh Check Day here at UVM. Bhumika was also the only student representative on the Dining Implementation Team, where she represented the student body in discussions regarding meal options within the dining halls.  

When discussing why she chose to pursue a career in medicine, Bhumika referenced her Hindu upbringing and described herself as a “very spiritual person” whose experiences had broadened her overall understanding of “health” and the different factors that impact one’s well-being. Bhumika also characterized her passion to “serve the underserved” as a critical component of her decision to pursue a career in the health professions.  

Bhumika took three growth years following graduation from UVM, during which time she worked as a medical assistant at the Community Health Center in Burlington. She emphasized that this experience further solidified her passion for medicine. When reflecting on the value of growth years between undergraduate education and medical school, Bhumika also highlighted that it is “important to breathe and be a person” and utilize this time to both gain valuable experience and learn how to best care for oneself. 

When asked about her time in medical school thus far, Bhumika replied “I thought I was going to be more anxious and worried.” While she acknowledged experiencing the “content overload” that is characteristic of medical school, Bhumika is also striving to incorporate “yoga, meditation, cooking,” and other activities into her daily schedule. She stressed the importance of making time for non-academic endeavors that bring joy into her life, wisely stating “You have to take care of yourself to take care of other people.”  

Bhumika’s parting advice to pre-health students is to not lose sight of the “big picture”. Specifically, she reiterated that the “big picture of medical school is collective healing.” Bhumika also suggests that students “don’t just be pre-med [or pre-health]”, as the connotations of this label can be considerably restricting and stress-inducing. Moreover, Bhumika emphasized that “Being a healthcare professional, or a disciple of medicine, is very important, but it is not all that you are … don’t lose who you are as a person.” 

Interview with David Fickes

David Fickes

By Flavin ’22

For this month’s newsletter I had the pleasure of speaking with the UVM Career Center’s very own David Fickes regarding his story and advice in pursuing an artistic field and how creative careers play a role in other career paths as well. David is currently the Data and Application Support Specialist at UVM and has previously worked as a Career Services Apprentice at Juilliard. David spent his early life interested in technology and music simultaneously, starting in the Green Mountain Youth Symphony. As he continued his studies in music he was given the opportunity to play with the National Youth Orchestra during his time at UVM after which he transferred to UCSB for a BA in Music Violin Performance. After receiving his degree he returned to Vermont to pursue teaching as well as perform with the Vermont Philharmonic. 

Throughout my conversation with David, a major theme emerged from our discussion: connections are key. He continuously emphasized the importance of connections and reaching out to people when pursuing something that you’re passionate about. He spoke passionately about taking charge of your own future though taking every opportunity and trusting your own abilities to succeed. One of the most memorable pieces of advice he provided was that most people want to help you. It might seem scary to reach out to strangers and ask for favors or connections or simply insight, but he stressed over and over again how much people want to help you find your way to what you’re looking for.

He spoke of the importance of developing and highlighting soft skills, such as organization, reliability, time management, and presentation, when marketing yourself to these opportunities. He emphasized that hard skills are a lot easier to learn, but soft skills take more nuance and experience to gain and understand. Often, a willingness to learn can lead to more opportunities that one might think. I quote David when I say, “understand you don’t know everything; while you’re capable you have a lot to learn” when speaking about hands on experience. A willingness to learn and reliability will get you pretty far. 

Lastly, in regards to the Juilliard Professional Apprentice Program, it covers a wide range of interests. From Orchestral Studies to Community Engagement, Administration to Wigs & Makeup Technician, the apprenticeship is a great opportunity for students to gain real world experience and make valuable connections within a specific field. When we spoke about the program, David gave a lot of good insight into the nature of creative apprenticeships, internships, and jobs. He emphasized that the most valuable aspect of these types of programs is connections. Making meaningful connections within the field is the majority of the work. He concluded our interview with some inspiration regarding the path to a creative field: start now. He stressed the importance and value of being able to apply for an opportunity already knowing how to do it. 

Your passion and excitement will shine through if you can accomplish the hard skills you need for the opportunity before you’ve even applied. Feeling confident in your field allows for more focus on making those connections that will provide the chance to utilize the skills you’ve developed. Our conversation concluded with an air of excitement and passion for the arts; flexibility, reliability, and communication are the recipe for success in a creative field. 

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