Want to become a doctor?

Current MD and DMD students take us on their healthcare career journeys

Do you have an interest in health sciences, hands-on learning, and caring for others? Nicole Didenko and Emma Boyajieff highlight their individual journeys in health care. Didenko and Boyajieff, Pennridge 2018 graduates, were science-driven students since high school. They shared similar experiences in advanced Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy, and Physics. Now, they both find themselves in healthcare careers.

Nicole Didenko, White Coat Ceremony (Cate Didenko )

Nicole Didenko is on her way to becoming a dentist. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor of science in Molecular Biology, she currently attends the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. Originally Didenko planned to enter medicine. She didn’t fully decide to switch to Dentistry until she realized she could combine her side hobbies with her interest in science. Didenko says, “I realized Dentistry combined with my passion for the arts, creativity, and hands-on learning.” In addition to her Molecular Biology major, Didenko minored in Studio Arts. This major showed her excellent dexterity (ability to work with hands) which was vital for the fine motor skills developed in dental school. Many dental schools look for those skills in prospective students whether they show this through carpentry, music, or art like Didenko. Another aspect of dentistry Didenko really valued was the interaction with patients. In preparation for dental school, Didenko assisted at Smiles by Hart dental office and conducted research in a Behavioral Neurophysiology Lab. These opportunities were two of her favorites because she could directly communicate with patients.

Pitt Dental Wax Lab (Nicole Didenko )

While Didenko found her niche in dentistry, Boyajieff attends Drexel University College of Medicine. After graduating from Pennridge, Boyajieff attended the University of South Carolina for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Boyajieff loves to learn and really felt like she fits into medicine because she loves to work and collaborate with others. “In medicine, the physician may be in charge of the treatment of the patients but they are working with an entire team of nurses, technicians, other doctors, and more to ensure the patient gets the best possible care,” Boyajieff says. Her love of learning was another reason for Boyajieff not being turned away from the amount of schooling a doctor requires. She even explains medical school as a relief, saying, “I don’t have to stress about what I’m going to do with my life because that path is already set for me.” Boyajieff understands that her time spent now will build the knowledge and benefit her skills needed to become a doctor. She really enjoys her program at Drexel because of the collaboration between students. Boyajieff values having a support network through the school and the non-competitiveness between her peers. This work-life balance is extremely important to her as she considers her specific specialty for the future.

Emma Boyajieff, White Coat Ceremony (Cate Didenko)

While Didenko and Boyajieff enter different areas of health care they both carry a similar message to students interested in the field. It is important to do what you enjoy, make the most of every experience, and constantly explore new opportunities. Boyajieff says, “I got the advice to pursue the things I enjoyed, as there is really no checklist of activities that will get you into medical school.” Didenko explains that it’s great to start exploring opportunities as a way to discover your interests. As a high schooler, Didenko volunteered at the local Doylestown Hospital which really initiated her interest in health care. Specifically, in dentistry, Didenko says there are opportunities for high schoolers to work in front desk offices or even conduct sterilization for local dentists. While these opportunities may help discover your interests, Didenko explains they also provide insight into what you don’t like. “A career may sound great on paper, but you don’t truly understand what you love until you get your feet wet,” Didenko says.