Pub. 7 2023 Issue 1

Student Spotlight – Alexa Fritsch

My family and I lived in a tiny village, if you will, called Chili in Wisconsin, where our closest neighborhood friends were Amish. However, I worked and went to school in a town nearby called Marshfield. Some of my most cherished memories involve growing up with a pack of hooligans (whom I am still very close with today), attending football games, making our own scavenger hunts, and having game nights. Additionally, I enjoyed participating in sports: cross country, gymnastics, and my favorite, track and field. The 800m, 4x400m relay, and 4x200m relay were my best events. Although my track days have passed, you can usually find me lifting weights, trail running, hiking, camping, paddleboarding, snowboarding, traveling, conversing with friends over homemade meals, and hosting game nights in my free time.

What was your journey to medical school?

Marshfield’s main attraction is its clinic — everyone in my hometown was affiliated with it in some way, shape, or form, but it was really my dad who got me into the sciences, albeit indirectly. As a family, we would go on nature walks and stop to look at trees, dried-up leaves, etc., and he’d always ask, “What do you think that is?” or “How do you think it came to be?” It impacted me in a big way, and I learned to love the sciences, especially biology. It wasn’t until I went to college that I really found my passion for medicine. After working as a CNA and taking courses such as anatomy, physiology, and medical mycology, I decided to pursue a career as a physician. During this time, I had many mentors and supporters — my biggest being my mom and dad, along with my friends and a handful of undergraduate professors, namely Dr. Tom Volk and Dr. Rebecca Werren.

I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where I competed on the track team my first year while pursuing a major in biology and a minor in art. I loved the sciences and digging into the minute details of molecular biology! When not studying in the corners of Cowley Hall, I found peace in the art studio — visually analyzing the human body and skeleton, scribbling my interpretation with graphite onto paper.

The opposition of science (the knowledge and logic) and emotion (the interactions and relationships forged between individuals) is what really drew me to medicine. I love learning about people and listening to their stories. This melding of rigid rationale with the fluidity of the human psyche is such an art and one that I wish to continually hone throughout my life.

What led you to attend Rocky Vista University Southern Utah?

When deciding on a medical school, I really wanted to feel respected and welcomed, not only on campus but also within the community. Having an amazing outdoor playground and a place to call home was just a bonus. Rocky Vista University in Southern Utah hit all these requirements out of the park, and I am so happy I landed right where I did.

Congratulations on matching to McKay Dee! What led you to apply there? What are you most looking forward to about residency?

Thank you so much for the congratulatory wishes! I applied to McKay-Dee for a myriad of reasons. Some of the biggest included its well-rounded, exceptional training, beautiful outdoor recreational opportunities, its proximity to my partner and family, and an overwhelming feeling of community and support from McKay-Dee’s staff, faculty, and residents.

Why family medicine as a specialty?

I love that, as a family physician, you wear all the hats. You are the communicator between your patient and specialists, the cheerleader, the advocate, the realist, the empathizer, the teacher, the researcher, and the interpreter of medical information. The family physician is afforded the great privilege of providing a safe place for others to be vulnerable: creating an open, honest space that leads to exceptional medical care tailored towards the patient. This, along with increased continuity of care with a variety of people and an assortment of cases makes for a thrilling, yet humbling adventure — one that I am so eager and grateful to continue.

Now that you are nearing the end of your med school journey, what advice would you give those trying to get into med school or just starting out?

I would encourage you to never give up on something you are truly passionate about. Just be you and do your thing — good things will come your way. Lastly, trust the process (easier said than done) — you will end up exactly where you are meant to be.

Anything else you would like to add?

I would like to say a very gracious thank you to some of my biggest supporters during medical school and throughout my life. I would most certainly not be where I am today without these wonderful humans: my dad (Tom Heinzen), my mom (Michelle Weidner), my partner (Alex Fishburn), my closest friends (Kim Clausen, Dr. Kyle Barkdull, Capt. Alyssa Brenner, and Sarah Wolff), and my most prominent mentors (Dr. Dale Woodbury and Dr. Nena Mason).