In August, Washington State University welcomed its first-ever class of medical students to the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.
Among the 60 students — all Washingtonians — is Jamie Mackiewicz, a 2012 graduate of Prairie High School.
Jamie Mackiewicz, 23, graduated from Prairie in 2012, before heading to the University of Washington where she earned her undergraduate in neurobiology, with a minor in bioethics and humanities. She then took a gap year before taking the first step toward donning — literally and figuratively — a white coat when she was accepted to the Washington State University school of medicine.
“It’s been quite the ride so far — really wonderful,” Mackiewicz said of her first few months in the program. “It’s been a really humbling opportunity, being a part of this first class, and I’m really grateful,” she later added.
Mackiewicz didn’t always want to be a doctor. Even out of high school, when she began at University of Washington, she had the full intention of becoming an actuary.
But although mathematics were her strong suit and she found the process enjoyable and interesting, she felt something might be missing if she continued on that path.
“I felt like the career in that (actuarial science) would be missing something for me,” she said. “I wouldn’t have the relational aspect I really wanted and would help me have fulfillment in what I was doing.”
She explored the idea of pursuing medicine when she was back home in North County on a couple breaks. Between her freshman and sophomore year and over winter break she shadowed medical professionals at Vancouver clinics in the area.
“I fell in love with medicine and the role that a physician can play,” she said. “Not just with health, but by creating in-depth relationships with patients.”
Mackiewicz attributes the confidence she had to switch career paths to her family and educators in high school who fostered an environment where she felt supported and encouraged to tackle her interests.
She said her science and math teachers at Prairie always encouraged and helped her examine the various career options that could be available to her through her interest in math and science, her two primary subjects of interest.
“Everyone along the way, that I’ve been able to work with, has been so encouraging and has helped me understand that this is a big undertaking but that it’s possible and that I can do it if I’m really passionate and dedicated to it,” she said.
North County remains near and dear to her heart. Her mother is a physical therapist at Battle Ground Physical Therapy and her father drives truck. She grew up attending Bethel Lutheran Church in Brush Prairie.
“It’s all I know, really — growing up in Battle Ground,” she said.
Although the thought of coming back home when she’s a bonafide doctor and working out of Clark County sounds “wonderful,” Mackiewicz said it’s hard to even think about it at this point, but she definitely wants stay in Washington.
“I can’t imagine ever leaving the Pacific Northwest,” she said. “I’m sure there are other wonderful places but I’m a little biased. I love our state and can’t imagine leaving it.”
Mackiewicz is working toward the pediatrics field.
“I’ve always loved working with kids,” she said, noting that part of her inspiration came from her past involvements at the Children’s Hospital in Seattle.
“Children are so resilient,” she said. “When they’re going through very difficult illnesses they stay strong.”
For high school students who aren’t quite sure what they want to do like she was, Mackiewicz said it’s important to remember one thing — that’s OK.
“If you choose to go to college, there is so much time for you to explore different fields,” she said. “Continue exploring — think about the types of material your interested in.”