Seeking a Few Good Breaks
By Gary Brown
Ask Washington College (Maryland) lacrosse player Jimmy Kielek what characteristics describe him and he’ll say, “Determined and motivated.”
Not bad attributes for a student-athlete in a rugged, fast-paced sport that demands both. Also not bad attributes for an aspiring medical professional.
Yes, Jimmy Kielek plays a sport that produces its share of broken bones, but at least he’s able to fix ’em.
“I guess when you have a sport like lacrosse, you need people in the medical field,” Kielek says. “Being an athlete helps me understand the body. You can feel the effects of teammates being out because of injuries, and if we can get them back quicker, maybe they can help us. My goal is to be involved in sports medicine to help people get back to playing as quickly as possible.”
Kielek is a senior attackman at a school known for its lacrosse. A one-time Division III national champion and multiple-time finalist, the program at Washington is rooted in rivalries with Johns Hopkins, Hobart, Salisbury, Nazareth and Navy. These boys called the Shoremen have sticks and know how to use them.
And while Washington has a strong pre-med curriculum, Kielek is on a path that doesn’t require attending a traditional medical school upon graduation. He wants to be a “physician assistant,” which is similar to being a doctor in just about all ways except owning a practice.
“You can work in most medical settings, from the emergency room to the operating room and family practice centers,” Kielek says. “You’re allowed to prescribe medicine, make diagnoses, see patients – but you can’t own your own practice. You work under a physician but you have many of the same responsibilities as the physician.”
Kielek says being a physician assistant also provides a diverse medical background. “You are well trained in just about everything,” he says, though he’s got his eye on orthopedics in particular.
“It’s one of the up-and-coming jobs,” Kielek says. “There seem to be fewer and fewer doctors just because of the hassles with insurance. It has become more of a business rather than helping people. I want to focus on the latter.”
Kielek will need two years of training at a physician assistant school before he enters the field, and then he can carry on a family tradition of sorts, since his father is a physician assistant and his mom is a registered nurse.
As for his involvement in lacrosse, Kielek actually started out in soccer, baseball and ice hockey. A friend in the latter told Kielek he should try lacrosse. “I liked the fast pace, the action, the flow and the fact you always are involved,” he says.
He chose Washington because of its proximity (just across the Chesapeake Bay from his native Baltimore) and for its close-knit community (an enrollment of only about 1,350) in pastoral Chestertown, Maryland.
While there’s no medical school there, Kielek likes its pre-med program and the faculty in it. “It’s more of the preparation WC gives you for a career in medicine,” he says. “More people are going into medical school as history majors or as English majors instead of biology or chemistry. The advantage of a liberal arts education for pre-med is that it gives you a more well-rounded education and may in fact set you apart from the norm when you’re applying for medical or physician assistant schools.”
Kielek just finished an internship with longtime Washington team physician Fred Lohr in which he participated in surgeries and patient consultations. He’s already observed a variety of surgeries – from ACL and rotator cuff repairs to total knee and hip replacements. Not bad experience for someone so determined and motivated.
“It’s a privilege for me to be at Washington College,” Kielek says. “I don’t come from a family with a lot of money; my dad was one of nine kids in a small Baltimore house. I see it more as a blessing to come to a school like this, so any efforts that I waste are counter-productive. That’s why I am like I am.”
© 2010 NCAA