KOKOMO, Ind. — When Nida Zia enters medical school, she'll be more than prepared.
Zia, who earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Indiana University Kokomo, has combined her academics and extensive volunteer service to help her gain experience working in the medical field.
She begins work next month as a scribe in Kokomo's St. Joseph Hospital Emergency Room. Zia learned about the opportunity from a nurse she met while volunteering there.
"This is a great experience for me to learn by watching and helping the doctors through patient treatment," she said. "I'm also learning technology skills I can use in medical school and in my career."
Sandra Herman, hospital marketing director, said Zia's degree gave her an advantage in the hiring process.
"Her wonderful education at IU Kokomo prepared her for this job," Herman said. "She understands medical terminology and patient assessment because of the excellent coursework there."
As a scribe, she will accompany emergency room doctors into the exam rooms, and enter the patients' medical history into their electronic medical records. She also will take notes during examinations, and update the doctors as test results come back, allows for a smoother treatment process for both patient and doctor.
Zia plans to learn as much as she can from her job, before enrolling in a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program in 2014.
Zia's parents hoped for these kinds of opportunities for their four children when they left their native Pakistan when Nida was nine years old.
"My parents immigrated here to give us a better life, and these kinds of choices," she said. "Everyone knows this is the land of opportunity."
She has made the most of the chances offered to her in her new home, particularly in education. She earned a bachelor's degree in biology from IU Kokomo in 2011, and her Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (M.A.L.S.) degree in May.
She chose that program for its higher education teaching track, so she can teach at the college level after she completes her medical degree. Her original plan was to complete her biology degree in three years and then go straight to medical school, but an English class with Associate Professor Eva White led her down another path.
"Dr. White made such an impression on me, and made me want to explore outside my chosen science field," Zia said. "I thought this would be a different experience than being in a lab, and I wanted to try it.
White said the M.A.L.S. program would give Zia a unique perspective on medicine.
"Nida's intellectual curiosity, enthusiasm, and openness allow her to transcend the traditional divisions between the sciences and the humanities," she said. "She will be one of those rare physicians who will look at her patients holistically, and who will be open to use all sorts of therapies to heal them, thanks to her multidisciplinary background."
IU Kokomo has become a Zia family tradition. Her brother, Usman, and sister, Rabia, both graduated in 2010. Younger sister Maheen currently is a student in the informatics program.
While earning her degrees, Zia also volunteered in the community, not only at the hospital, but also at Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation, and with the Coyote Kids summer running program. She also served on a humanitarian mission at a school in Colombia. Zia hopes to return there to work again in the future.
"I want to give back to the people there, through teaching or a medical mission," she said. "I grew up in an underserved country, so I know the difference I could make there."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.