Julia Shariff is still wrapping her head around the possibility of one day being called, “Dr. Shariff.”
The May 2015 UW-Green Bay Human Biology and Spanish graduate took a major step toward her long-awaited goal with recent acceptance into the inaugural class of the Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Classes begin this summer.
“To be honest, the idea of med school seemed like something other people did, not someone like me… The reason I decided to declare my major and head down that path was because of the amazing faculty at UWGB. I had always had support from my family to follow my dreams, but having a respected non-family source of support and belief in my abilities was what I needed to take the plunge.”
Being able to stay in Green Bay while in medical school is providing a level of comfort for Shariff (pictured with Bellin’s Bart Miller, above). The Green Bay Southwest High School graduate recognizes the value of “staying home” for her undergraduate degree, and will follow in the footsteps of a number of family members who took the same path.
“The benefits of staying in Green Bay are numerous,” she says. “It will both decrease the cost of living, but ease the transition into medical school. I’ve heard that the first year comes with its own academic adjustments so taking on medical school in Green Bay provides me with comfort and familiarity. I absolutely love the atmosphere of Green Bay — not too big and not too small. There’s plenty to do and opportunities to learn in this area. Having a medical school in Green Bay brings a lot to the area, especially when it comes to establishing community physicians.”
Shariff already has an insider perspective into health care in the region, having shadowed at Bellin Hospital in preparation for a research project, “The Lost Connection: Benefits of being a bilingual professional in the U.S. healthcare system,” which earned her prestigious selection as a “Posters in the Rotunda” showcase presenter in Madison in Spring of 2015.
Her project provided insight into the Green Bay area’s growing population of Spanish-speaking residents.
In true interdisciplinary fashion, Shariff developed the idea in collaboration with Prof. Cristina Ortiz of UW-Green Bay’s Spanish and Humanistic Studies academic programs.
“As Julia’s adviser, I conveyed to her that medical schools are seeking well-rounded students who are knowledgeable and have academic experiences beyond the sciences,” Ortiz says. “Her Spanish skills and academic work in Spanish have been key players in positioning Julia as the desirable candidate she is for medical school.”
Explains Shariff, “My research methods consisted of a lot of field observation, interviews, and of course investigation of previous reports and studies. I interviewed three individuals specifically: a bilingual doctor, a bilingual physician’s assistant and a Spanish interpreter. Through my research I developed a list of pros and cons for various communication methods in the healthcare system, thus determining the overall most efficient and practical method was the employment of a bilingual physician.”
Shariff studied abroad, in Spain, as part of her undergraduate experience. She was also an active tutor for the Organic Chemistry class, while serving as UWGB’s Health Science Club president, and co-president of UWGB’s Colleges Against Cancer organization.
“Green Bay is founded on the tight knit community and surrounding areas, and the promotion of this network is huge in the message MCW-Green Bay wants to send: promoting community based health care and cooperation of health systems in the state,” Shariff said.
“It has been a very long process, and to be accepted at such a respected institution as the Medical College of Wisconsin is both an honor and a privilege!”