Kristen Yurkerwich Telischak, DMS ‘09:
Circle of Continuity

Kristen Yurkerwich Telischak was headed for a career in finance. But now she’s known as Dr. Telischak.

After graduating from Boston College with a degree in business in 2000, Telischak took a job with Deloitte and Touche LLP in New York City. “I was reasonably happy working in accounting and finance, but I was searching for something that I was more passionate about,” she says. “It was a big jump that I made, but I’ve been happy all along with my decision to go to medical school.”

DMS also introduced her to her husband, Nick Telischak, DMS ’08, whom she married in May. This summer, she and Nick are headed to San Francisco, where she’ll begin an internship year in general surgery at UCSF, while he begins his residency in radiology at Stanford. She hopes to land an anesthesiology residency in the Bay Area the following year. Such are the challenges facing newly-wed MD graduates in their residency years.

Telischak has appreciated the small close-knit community that is DMS. “It’s such a nice circle of continuity that the doctors who lectured to us and taught us in second year are the same ones whose patients we took care of later on the ward,” she observes. “I think that’s a nice bonus of Dartmouth that you have a network within the hospital and you have the advantage of knowing everyone on a team. It’s great for the patients, it’s great for the team you’re on, and it’s great for you as a student.”

By spreading her medical school coursework and rotations over five years, Telischak has made the most of what DMS has to offer. For a year and a half she took a reduced load in order to do research with Dr. E. Dale Collins, a plastic surgeon and director of Norris Cotton Cancer Center’s comprehensive breast program.

“That was my first experience in trying to look critically at studies and review data,” says Telischak. “You can learn that in the classroom, but when you start reading all the papers about a topic, and you immerse yourself in clinical research, you learn to read the journal articles with a more critical eye. I think an experience like that teaches you a lot. Every medical student should come out with that.”

Telischak also embraced extracurricular activities at DMS, volunteering in the Patient Partnership Program, where she was paired with the mother of a baby with cystic fibrosis, and serving as student coordinator for the Mascoma Valley Free Health Clinic during her second year. These experiences added to her appreciation of the challenges patients face, whether a mother struggling to make the best decisions for her child, or the obstacles confronting low-income, uninsured patients in a rural area. “Working in the Mascoma Clinic highlighted the socio-economic diversity of this area,” she says. “Rural health is just very challenging. Even just getting to a doctor’s appointment can be hard for people. Those experiences helped me understand what it’s like for these patients and the need to be flexible and meet them half way.”

Throughout her five years at DMS, Telischak has been a member of student government, serving as its president in 2007-08. A major focus during that time was working with the administration on proposed changes to the DMS curriculum, now adopted, which include a plan to allow elective time in year three. “At DMS, faculty and students work together to tackle challenging issues like these,” she wrote in a fall 2008 essay for Dartmouth Medicine. “DMS is a remarkable place, where student opinion counts and where we continually work together with faculty and administrators to improve our medical education.”

That commitment won’t end with her graduation in June. The Class of 2009 has elected Telischak as its representative to the DMS Alumni Council. “I’ve always been interested in being a leader within my class,” she says. “I look forward to keeping our class network alive.” Recognizing the role alumni play in providing financial support for DMS, she adds,” And I’m okay with asking people for money!”

June 2009

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