*As seen in the Spring 2017 College of Saint Elizabeth Magazine*
Morristown, N.J. (June 5, 2017) – Nicole Tipton, '11, likes to keep busy. She's finishing medical school at the American University of Antigua (AUA) and just received word that her residency will be at SIU Medicine, a family practice program affiliated with Southern Illinois University in Springfield, Ill. She's also completing an online master's in business administration with an emphasis in healthcare from Urbana University in Urbana, OH. She's also planning a wedding.
Before coming to CSE in 2007, Tipton set the goal to go to medical school after college. By age 12, when her younger sister began to have health issues, she knew she wanted to become a doctor. She watched the doctors care for her sister and the rest of her family during the difficult process.
Tipton visited the College for an overnight experience, and began tearing up as soon as she arrived on campus. She went to the Admissions office the next day to apply. She received her acceptance letter and sent her deposit as quickly as she could.
Tipton's sister, Shannon, '14, followed in her sister's footsteps and studied music at CSE. Shannon is now in The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation in Nashville, Tenn. The two sisters are from a military family that moved every three years until they eventually settled in Woodbridge, Va., for Tipton to go to college in the United States.
CSE was the only out-of-state college that she applied to and it became the perfect fit for her. During her last two years as a college student, Tipton joined a spring break opportunity working at a free clinic in Syracuse, N.Y., for "the underserved, marginalized, and uninsured community."
"This was what solidified what I want to do for the rest of my life," she said. "And it was the beginning of my interest in family medicine."
Tipton decided to study at AUA when a former CSE professor shared that CSE was planning to begin an affiliation with the university.
"She thought I would be an ideal candidate and that I could start immediately," she said. "It was definitely the support at CSE that helped facilitate my acceptance."
During her time at AUA, she changed her specialization in pediatrics to family medicine.
"I found out that I loved a little bit of everything," Tipton said. "You still have the pediatric population, but you also have the adults and you have obstetrics."
"Medical school is not a cakewalk," Tipton said. Her days and nights were spent mostly in the library studying, despite her medical school's sunny location.
"My mom jokes that I was the only person living in the Caribbean who didn't have a tan," she said. "And I had a great network of friends and a support group that helped me stay sane during the whole process." But during the weekends, Tipton would try to unwind by exploring the island, hiking, and embracing its wildlife.
Tipton's fondest medical school memory was during one of her family medicine clinical rotations. The inpatient team became comfortable with her helping the patients on her own, and during a moment of interaction with her patients, she realized that she was a physician for these patients. "This is what I was going to do every day for the rest of my life, and I couldn't wait," she said.
During her time at CSE, Tipton joined many clubs and activities like the swim team, the Student Take Action Committee (STAC), and the biology club which taught her time management and leadership. Her favorite club was STAC because it was her opportunity to reach out to the underserved and make a difference in the community.
Even during her summer and winter breaks, Tipton still wouldn't settle down. She shadowed a pediatrician in her hometown. "For me, it was nice to get the exposure during college and see what a clinical rotation was like and what it was like to be in practice day in and day out," she said.
Tipton still misses college with its nearby cafeteria and her friends that lived quite literally next door. She still wears the gold and blue ring that she received during the Junior Ring Ceremony, and remembers the incredible bonding time she had with her graduating class during 100's Night – a celebration of the last 100 days until graduation. "Moments of traditions at CSE are things that I loved," she said.
While any other person would be exhausted and weary with everything that's going on, Tipton is filled with energy and has a positive outlook that you can sense when talking to her. "When you do something that you love, it makes it worth it in the end," she said. "I'm looking forward to a future rooted in the community and having a bigger influence on it than just the patients I see in and out of the clinic."