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The Art of Medicine: Kristin Buterbaugh


From a young age Kristin Buterbaugh was pushed to try new things. Her mom encouraged her to be a singer. She could have been an artist. But when she buckled down to determine a career path, she decided to follow in her dad's footsteps to become a doctor.

But Buterbaugh, an American studies major, has followed an unusual path to a career in medicine.

"Medicine is not all science. It's an art also," says Buterbaugh. "That's why studying humanities gives future physicians a perspective they might not achieve if they were studying molecules and cells all the time."

After she graduates this year, Buterbaugh will spend a year studying the history and philosophy of science as a Gates Scholar at Cambridge University, where she'll explore the stories of immigrant women in the United Kingdom's nationalized health care system.

When she completes her master's degree, she will enroll in the Humanities and Medicine Early Acceptance Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The program provides a path to medical school that offers students the flexibility to explore their interests in humanities and social sciences during their undergraduate years. Those who successfully complete the requirements earn admission to Mount Sinai, a Manhattan-based medical school. Buterbaugh, who is from the Pittsburgh suburb of Wexford, was accepted into the program during her sophomore year at Northwestern.

Northwestern's focus on interdisciplinary involvement allowed Buterbaugh to pursue her various passions. She studied history and English, taught and wrote music as musical director of the all-female a cappella group Significant Others, tap danced for the show Danceworks and participated in leadership roles with her sorority, Delta Gamma.

"I don't know if it all could've happened anywhere else," Buterbaugh says. "Now I'm ready to go on and do new things."

— Alice Truong (J10)

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