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May 2, 2005

Medical Student Plans Career As Educator

Karen Hook
Karen Hook

Photo by Peter Morenus

As a high school student, Karen Hook had already chosen her career goal.

“I liked the idea of becoming a doctor, because it was a blend of science and human contact,” she says. “Science and chemistry were my favorite courses in high school, and physical science applied to taking care of people. I knew it was a good fit for me.”

Hook won a four-year Nutmeg Scholarship to UConn, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with honors, and accreditation from the American Chemical Society, also with honors.

During her medical school years, she was involved in research related to long-term outcomes of hospitalized patients on ventilators at New Britain General Hospital. Other projects included student/patient communication skills research at John Dempsey Hospital; and building computer- generated anesthesia devices at Hartford Hospital.

Her volunteer activities included mentoring Hartford high school students interested in pursuing health care careers. “I loved seeing the interest in their eyes,” she says. “I remembered feeling that way when I was in high school.”

Hook also volunteered at the South Park Inn Medical Clinic, where she served on the board of directors; the YMCA Adolescent Girls’ Clinic; and the Farmington Little League, where she coached the minor league girls’ softball team.

In her second year of medical school, she was inspired to teach by former faculty member Dr. Mary Ellen Goldhamer. “She made me want to be an educator,” Hook says. “Both my father and my brother are high school teachers, so I guess teaching runs in my family.”

Hook became the first student to teach physical diagnosis to second-year medical students. Her residency in internal medicine will be at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Chosen by her peers to speak at Commencement, Hook says she may present an “ode to medical school” during the ceremony. “I’m sort of known for writing odes,” she says.

Despite her busy schedule, Hook enjoys mountain biking and outdoor activities. She’s also currently reading Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

“It has some good lessons on life,” she says. “There should be a Zen of Medical School.”