Philosophy and medicine are not often thought of as components/complements of each other. However, 2015 graduate of St. Kate’s, Sophie Shogren, feels that her philosophy minor plays an integral role in her studies and endeavors to become a neurologist as she finished her fourth year of medical school.
“Neurology is cool; it’s like the philosophy of medicine. In neurology, you deal with a lot of gray-area. Philosophy is also a lot of the same. When I encountered neurology, I felt at home, like I was back in one of my philosophy lectures at St. Kate’s,” she says.
Sophie Shogren graduated from St. Kate’s in 2015 with a BA in biology and minors in philosophy and chemistry. She is currently in her fourth year at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Come May, she will graduate with her Doctor of Medicine degree. On March 19, Sophie’s “Match Day,” she will match into her residency program. In July, Sophie will start as a resident physician in neurology.
Path to St. Kate’s
Sophie grew up in a rural town in northern Minnesota, Park Rapids. There, she discovered the need for rural medicine and decided she wanted to be a doctor.
So what brought this passionate and driven woman to St. Kate’s? Sophie was initially recruited for track & field, though she knew nothing about the college. Going to a women’s college was something that Sophie had never thought about doing, and was different than anything she had ever experienced.
Sophie’s first campus visit was impressive and solidified her college decision: “I felt a sense of community that I had never felt before,” she reflects.
Sophie’s admission counselor, Kaylene Roering, was extremely invested in Sophie’s education and track to St. Kate’s. Kaylene even came to Sophie’s high school graduation party!
St. Kate’s Memories
Though Sophie was recruited to the St. Kate’s track team, she did not run the entire time she was at the university. She found other interests, such as writing for The Wheel and discovering a passion for medicine. Applying to medical schools soon became Sophie’s top priority.
When asked about her favorite memories of St. Kate’s, Sophie cited her time spent with her Biology professors as some of her favorite days.
“I spent a lot of time interacting with professors who really cared and really got to know me,” Sophie recalls. She also has fond memories of the hours spent with Kurt Olson, MD, (Associate Professor of Biology) and Chris Palahniuk (Laboratory Manager of the Biology Department). “They were my teachers, but more importantly, they were my friends,” she says.
Sophie has kept in touch with them regularly via Zoom, and they are a huge part of why she loved school and loved coming to class every day.
Another professor that had a significant impact on her life was Associate Professor of Philosophy Anne Maloney, who taught Sophie throughout her time at St. Kate’s.
“Any lecture with Professor Maloney was a treat.” Sophie remembers.
Sophie tells me that she stumbled into the professor’s upper-level Philosophy of Religion class as a first-year student. Though she felt lost in the subject for the first part of the semester, Sophie spent hours with Professor Maloney during her office hours. This helped her understand the core of philosophy but was also an essential step in figuring out what side of medicine she wanted to pursue.
“Everyday with Professor Maloney was like going to the theater,” Sophie says. “She brought texts and ideas to life in a way that blew them up in your face. Philosophy is really the basis for who we are, and it challenges your beliefs and stretches your mind in ways that you wouldn’t know were possible. Professor Maloney really helped foster that sort of growth in me and other students.”
Sophie’s fascination with philosophy kept her taking classes in the subject, which broadened her perspective of medicine. When Sophie first encountered the avenue of neurology, it stretched her mind in such a way that reminded her of philosophy and had her aching for more.
Her hard work in philosophy paid off: “My philosophy minor has prepared me more to be a clinician than anything else I encountered in college,” Sophie claims.
A Day in the Life
Currently, Sophie is in her fourth year of medical school. She spends her time preparing residency applications, interviewing, completing her elective rotations, and taking medical classes to prepare her for neurology residency. Here is what a typical day in Sophie Shogren’s life looks like:
Sophie wakes up at about 6:30 a.m every morning, eats breakfast, and feeds her parakeet Jiffy before heading to the hospital for her physical medicine and rehabilitation rotation. Sophie mentions that she enjoys this rotation because as a neurologist, she will not often see what happens after treating a patient for an acute neurologic injury. The rehabilitation part of her rotation helps Sophie see this side of treatment.
When she gets to work, Sophie checks in with her patients to see if anything has changed overnight, examines them, and then presents them to the attending physician. This includes letting the attending know what her daily treatment plans for her patients are.
She then gets to go with the patients to their rehabilitation activities. This includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy sessions.
Another responsibility Sophie is tasked with is admitting patients through an initial exam.
After a long day at the hospital, Sophie goes home, hangs out with Jiffy, whose favorite activities include flying around and playing with his ferris wheel. She also goes to HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) classes, which lasts for about an hour.
After she eats dinner, Sophie reads up on her patients for the following day of work. She also uses her evenings to tutor other medical students for a couple of hours. Sophie expresses that she greatly enjoys this part of her day and would love to teach in some capacity later on.
“Seeing light bulbs go off in people’s eyes is really fun. I think that’s what has made me think about teaching sometime in the future. Helping people understand, or putting things into words that they can understand, is really rewarding.” she remarks.
After tutoring students, Sophie reads a good book, if she has enough energy, and then goes to bed.
Advice for Katies
Sophie gives her best advice for current St. Kate’s students below:
- “My primary advice would be this: no matter what you want to go into, whether it is nursing, business, whatever– establish relationships with faculty in your field and in other areas that you enjoy learning about. Do this early on….these relationships gave me life throughout college and still do! My relationships with faculty brought my St. Kate’s experience to life. Plus, when you need letters of recommendation, you know exactly who to ask and trust with it! However, this doesn’t just happen. You need to make the effort and want to create these relationships. If you put in the work, the relationships you build can and will be enduring.”
- “My other advice would be to have an open mind as to what you will or will not like. At the beginning of my philosophy class that first year of college, I didn’t think I would last the semester, much less end up minoring in the subject. I put in the work and built relationships, and I ended up loving the subject. And as I’ve said before, my philosophy minor prepared me immensely for medical school and studying neurology. In other words, don’t pigeon-hole yourself into one thing and one thing only.”