Transformative Experiences Lead Graduating MCW Student Towards Match Day

Transformative experiences lead graduating MCW student towards Match Day

As she prepares for Match Day on March 15, the time when graduating medical students around the country find out where they’ll go for their residency, Marissa Davis reflects on the path that brought her there.

“I got into medicine when I was 14,” shares the Ripon, Wisconsin, native.

At the time, her mom had a surgery to remove a football-sized tumor from her body. Davis, a first-generation college student, met afterward with the surgeon.

“She sat down and showed me all the pictures of the operation and kind of explained what she did,” Davis says. “That really sparked my interest in the human body and how amazing medicine is.”

Her interest in medicine led her to the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, where she studied pre-med while also working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at a nursing home. As COVID-19 hit, she found another job, working as a CNA for a boy who suffered from Friedreich ataxia, a rare genetic disorder that affects the body’s nerves.

“As I was taking care of that young boy, I fell in love with pediatrics,” Davis says.

When she first started working with him, he was still able to see, hear and draw pictures.

“Within probably half a year, he lost his vision, was losing his hearing and wasn’t able to hold a pencil anymore, so I learned very quickly how to take care of a kid who required a lot of adaptability and care,” she says.

Marissa DavisShe described the experience as heartbreaking, but extremely rewarding.

“I fell in love with health care through that experience,” Davis says. “To this day I’m still involved with kids with special needs.”

That experience eventually brought Davis to the Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where she would continue her journey into pediatrics. The school appealed to her for many reasons, including its smaller class sizes, three-year curriculum and the opportunity to build strong relationships with her cohort.

“I loved the small class size and small feel of MCW-Green Bay; I think it’s really innovative,” she says. “Our whole class knows each other very well and supports each other.”

Attending MCW-Green Bay also allowed her to stay close to her family, with Ripon just one hour away. Davis says MCW provided her the opportunity to work with excellent preceptors, including Dr. Jacob Meyer, a family medicine physician at Bellin Health. She said Dr. Meyer took her under his wing as a first-year medical student.

“He gave me a lot of confidence and challenged me to come up with my own differential diagnosis and come up with my own plan and start thinking like a doctor versus a medical student,” Davis says.

She also had the opportunity at MCW-Green Bay to conduct research on equine-assisted therapy for children with special needs.

Upon completing her residency, wherever that may be, Davis hopes her road brings her back to Wisconsin to work with children.

“I see myself working with kids with special needs and complex medical conditions,” she says. “I do foresee myself after residency coming back to Wisconsin and helping some of the populations that are a little bit more deserted.”

MCW-Green Bay medical student Marissa Davis and family

Before that comes Match Day and a long-awaited chance for Davis to celebrate with her friends, family and classmates. Davis missed out on a chance for a traditional college graduation at UW-LaCrosse due to COVID-19 and was only able to invite one family member to her White Coat Ceremony, marking the beginning of her medical school journey at MCW.

“This is the first ceremony that I’m going to have that my entire family and all my friends are able to attend,” she says. “Match Day is probably going to be the peak of all of our experiences here. I really genuinely loved everybody who I learned from and learned with.”

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