Marlana Sheridan Bollinger ‘09 shares her journey on becoming a physician

Marlana Sheridan Bollinger ‘09 has known since she was a child that she wanted to be a physician. Watching her father receive medical care and getting to know the nurses who cared for him, was a great influence in this decision. However, as Marlana admits, the journey to the destination wasn’t as straightforward.

It was Marlana’s dream to graduate from NC State, work in North Carolina for one year as a certified nursing assistant, and then attend ECU Brody School of Medicine. However, as she neared graduation in 2009, she was contacted by Teach For America (TFA). After discussing it with the recruiter and looking into the program further, she realized what an amazing opportunity it was and decided to apply. After being accepted, she then spent two years in Northampton County teaching 8th-grade math and “fell in love with it and [her] students”. Marlana continues, “I found a joy in teaching that I had not expected and I came to truly respect my colleagues who had spent their careers as educators. In fact, I still hold educators as some of the hardest working, selfless, and loving people I have ever had the privilege of working alongside during my tenure with TFA.”

Marlana did go on to ECU Brody School of Medicine as she always planned, and as a Brody Scholar. It was there that she determined family medicine was her passion — “forming long term relationships with patients and families, coming alongside them to educate and empower them, and being a patient advocate.” This interest led her out west to Via Christi Family Medicine and then, eventually, Wellspring Family Medicine.

“It has truly been a joy working here. I see patients in some of the very highs (welcoming a new baby to the family), in some of the very lows (saying goodbye to a loved one), and everything in between and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. It’s such a privilege to be able to walk alongside patients and families as they navigate such waters.”

For her time in the Park Scholarships program and at NC State, Marlana says she truly appreciated the retreats and professional development in the first half of her freshman year. “I was exposed to fields I never would have otherwise explored and though I settled on science and medicine, I learned something from the exposure to everything else. I think it goes without saying that being a Park Scholar and being exposed to so much, as we were, definitely helped me in my goal to becoming a physician and equipped me with the tools to make it happen. My advice to any current or incoming NC State student and/or Park Scholar is to be true to yourself and your values and to follow your heart. Park Scholars go on to be world changers, so find what that looks like for you and chase after it with all you have!”