Dr. Susan Soletsky loves her job as a pediatric anesthesiologist at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Houston, Texas.
When she arrived at URI, though, she wanted to major in physical education. Her parents insisted she choose pharmacy or nursing. “I wasn’t a very good student,” she confesses. “I chose nursing because the pharmacy program was five years, and there was no way I was going to spend an extra year in school.”
She didn’t know it at the time, but the nursing curriculum would spark a sense of purpose and determination that surprised almost everyone who knew her. She began to think about med school while she was still in URI’s nursing program. “I didn’t have the maturity for it then,” she says.
After graduating, as much as she enjoyed her nursing career, she kept returning to thoughts of becoming a doctor. “I had to do more than dream about it,” she says. “When the hurdles were set up I had to decide whether I was going to jump them or not.”
She worked full time while she earned a post baccalaureate pre-med degree from Queens College in New York, then went on to Cornell Medical School, intending to go into radiology. A mandatory rotation in anesthesiology changed her mind. “I realized that a lot of the things I liked about nursing—the problem solving, the physiology, the pharmacology—were involved in anesthesiology,” she says.
Her nursing education gave her a grounding for medical school that proved invaluable. While her fellow students were grappling with the unfamiliar psycho-social aspects of medicine, she says, “I had so much more of a base, having worked with patients for several years already.”
She credits her years at URI with helping both her personal and academic growth: “It was really a time of gaining lots of confidence and academic desire.” And she still holds nurses in high esteem: “A good nurse is priceless. They can make or break a patient’s wellness at every level.”
—Paula M. Bodah ’78