November 7, 2018 - Senior global health major Michaela Hitchner (NHS’19) just returned from her 12-credit, semester-long research practicum abroad. While in Australia, Hitchner, who has enjoyed her time at Georgetown and is planning next steps regarding a medical career, researched early childhood development services.

Question: What were you working on this semester in Australia?

Hitchner: I was in Townsville, Australia from mid-July until late October. While there, I conducted research on early childhood development services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. I completed a literature review on early childhood development best practices and then executed my own qualitative study on the early childhood development services currently available at the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Service (TAIHS). Through one-on-one interviews with TAIHS clinicians and managers, I was able to identify key enablers for the integration of best practice early childhood development services in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

Question: How have you enjoyed Georgetown and the global health major?

Hitchner: I came to Georgetown specifically for the global health major. Though it has been challenging at times, I couldn’t have made a better choice. Although I knew that I wanted to go to medical school before coming to college, I saw my undergraduate years as a chance to expand my knowledge base beyond the basic sciences. Global health has really helped to shape the way I think about health and health care, giving me a unique perspective on medicine and the patient experience compared to a lot of other medical school applicants.

I also value the opportunities afforded by the global health major at Georgetown to put my knowledge into practice. The two internships and practical experience abroad set the global health major apart from others at Georgetown and other universities. Not to mention how beautiful DC and Georgetown’s campus are — I particularly love the large amount of cafes and cute study spaces we have. There’s always so much going on in a city like DC. I really couldn’t have picked a better location to spend such an important part of my life.  

Question: What have you participated in at Georgetown?

Hitchner: I play on both the club field hockey and club softball teams at Georgetown, and I was the President of club field hockey for a year. I also work in the O’Neill Family Foundation Clinical Simulation Center in the NHS, and I volunteer in the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital with Project Sunshine. For the past two years, I have held positions as a student academic mentor for human biology students and an NHS peer advisor for incoming global health majors. Apart from the NHS, I was also a resident assistant for two years.

Question: What are your plans for the future?

Hitchner: I am currently applying to medical schools with the hopes of starting next fall. I’m not positive about what kind of physician I want to be, but my current interests lie in pediatrics and women’s health. I am also considering furthering my global health education through a dual MD/MPH degree, and I hope to incorporate sustainable public health programs into my career as a physician someday. I think that my global health background will prove to be invaluable in my patient interactions, and I find it important to continue challenging myself to consider health care from multiple perspectives outside of the medical sphere.