1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. My name is Auburn Skakle. I graduated from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science (BS) focused in Biology and Psychology. Following graduation, I spent time preparing for the MCAT, obtaining licensure as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), working as a Certified Pharmacy Technician, volunteering as a youth soccer coach, and conducting patient interviews for a clinical drug study. Currently employed as a full-time EMT with Wake County EMS, I assist the people of Wake County and offer aid to medically underserved areas in both urban and rural settings of North Carolina. I really valu
e how emergency medicine’s universality enables me to care for individuals spanning across socioeconomic, cultural, and ethnic spectrums.
2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?
I find it difficult to choose a “favorite” teacher because in reflecting upon my past education, I realize that many of my professors have imparted valuable insight such as those taught by Dr. Hammer, my freshman English 101 professor, who introduced me to a new level of thinking by requiring his students to construct logical arguments. As a graduate level course, Behavioral Endocrinology, Dr. Burmeister improved my ability to comprehend and analyze scientific journal articles, thereby preparing me for the lifelong learning that a career in medicine entails. In this course, I also completed a research grant proposal for utilizing optogenetics to selectively stimulate specific hypothalamic neurons to gain further insight into the physiological underpinnings characterizing narcolepsy.
3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?
While no single circumstance led to my desire to become a physician, I was fortunate to see true health “care” practiced by my mother. As a pharmacist, her commitment to heal and compassionately affect her patients’ lives inspired me to hold myself to the same standards and values.
As a college freshman, I earned a spot on the Women’s Club Soccer team, despite acquiring a concussion during tryouts. However, I did not expect the medical repercussions that followed this concussion. The resulting migraines, vertigo, and nausea made the hospital atmosphere seem like home as the complexity of my symptoms required a diversity of treatment. Committed to the timeline and goals I set for myself, I continued to grapple with my symptoms until deciding to medically withdraw the spring semester of my sophomore year. With poor health impeding my academic success, I finally grasped the need to prioritize my health. I remember a neurologist trying to ease my frustrations, assuring me that, “six years from now you’ll be laughing about this!” I remember thinking how six years—not even having made it past my twentieth birthday—seemed like an eternity. I further wondered why my soccer history seemed so merciless, all-too-often leaving me bruised and battered. A heart murmur in elementary school, spinal fracture in middle school, scholarships lost due to a displaced tibia/fibula fracture in high school, and now a concussion. Yet, with the hardships came maturity and the realization that each injury furthered my passion and appreciation for medicine. My experience also furnished a sense of purpose to positively impact the lives of others. Even after eight years, my neurologist’s words still reverberate in my mind. Overcoming my challenges did not bring “laughter” per se, but provided invaluable insight for success as a future physician and taught me resilience and grit amidst adversity.
4. What area of medicine are you interested in?
I know my past experiences help shape my current vision; thus, I have an interest in the fields of neurology, emergency medicine, and pediatrics. I enjoy working with children and hope to integrate my experiences into my future career. I find it refreshing that children speak their mind without regard to others’ perceptions. Fueled by their energy, I feel I can be more creative in providing their care.
5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?
My employment as a full-time Emergency Medical Technician with Wake County EMS continues to fuel my motivations and commitment for wanting to become a physician. Interacting with a diverse patient population, I find myself learning something new with every patient. One of the neatest experiences I have had thus far surrounds the care I helped provide to a cardiac arrest patient. With many hours spent preparing for such circumstances, Wake County’s EMS protocol tends to cardiac arrest
patients using a “pit-crew” approach, which outlines specific roles for each emergency responder. For this patient, as the first-arriving EMS unit, with fire department personnel already on the scene having initiated chest compressions, I was tasked with managing the patient’s airway while my paramedic partner attached the defibrillation pads and monitored the patient’s cardiac rhythm. Some of my more specific responsibilities included inserting an airway management device and ventilating the patient. Responders from the second-arriving EMS unit oversaw appropriate medication administration, ensured high-quality compressions, and helped counsel the patient’s family. Our efforts eventually yielded success when our patient achieved a return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). The “coolness” of this experience stems from the realization that when working together as a team, the impossible becomes possible.
6. What is your favorite book?
Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.
I value creativity and innovativeness. To nurture my creative impulses, I enjoy expressing myself artistically through painting, drawing, and crafting. Often requiring me to embrace a new vision, the process of giving physical form to thoughts and ideas balances my attention to detail with a broader perspective. I enjoy sharing my creative works with those who can appreciate different aspects of me. As it is important to me to give of myself to others, my artwork is a meaningful venue to make that happen.
Similarly, cooking also allows me to share my creative side with others. Coupled with a love for food, my creativity permeates into the kitchen through culinary treats such as Apple Roses (apple slices formed and baked into a rose) and Cake Pops decorated for special occasions.
8. What do you like most about PreMed STAR? My favorite thing about PreMed STAR surrounds the camaraderie among students. Everyone is very supportive, and as a result, I have formed many new valuable relationships by socializing and networking through PreMed STAR. Also, I really enjoy reading the blog posts, which offer insight and advice regarding ways to better prepare myself for a future in medicine.
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