7 Continents, 7 Marathons, 1 Student at Georgetown McDonough
Finding balance in your life during an MBA program can be a challenge, which makes time management is one of the most important skills for MBA candidates and students to develop. It’s difficult enough to attend classes and complete assignments, and most students also juggle club involvement, competitions, family, and leisure activities. And then there are students like Nick Stukel, an MD/MBA ’18 student at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
Not only does Stukel manage his MBA program and personal life, he also balances medical school, running marathons, and heading his nonprofit organization Strums & Strides, which promotes the “healing power of music” for patients and hospitals. His organization has raised nearly $10,000 for Musicians On Call, a nonprofit organization that brings musicians to hospitals to play at patients’ bedsides. Stukel recently got back from King George Island, Antarctica, where he competed in his fifth marathon in three years, having already completed marathons in Thailand, Tanzania, Germany, and Argentina.
“Running in Antarctica was intense. It’s summer down there, so it wasn’t as cold as I was necessarily expecting. It was right around freezing,” Stukel said in a news release. “I think the hardest thing was the hills. The course was really hilly. And it’s essentially a desert down there, so it gets very windy, which was a challenge.”
The Antarctica marathon, and Stukel’s impressive time of 3:48:48, is just one part his story. To learn more about how he does it all, we interviewed Stukel about his experience.
Clear Admit: What made you decide to go the MD/MBA route?
Nick Stukel: I applied to both about five years ago. I really had no idea going into undergrad that business was something I was interested in. I knew that I was interested in science and I liked the idea of working with patients through medicine and developing relationships in that way, but then in undergrad I had some experiences in student government and different campus clubs that really drew me into the idea of being part of organizations and their management and trying to help contribute in a broader sense than strictly through medicine. So, I took a few business classes in undergrad, and I loved them.
Doing business and medicine will help me work with patients, and it will help me zoom out and have a broader focus. There are a lot of ways to affect broader change through hospital administration and policy work, and I think the MBA is key to understanding how medicine works from the business aspect—I’m interested in expanding access to care and also patient safety and quality improvement. Doctors learn how bodies work and how to work with patients, but we don’t really learn how medicine as a whole works and how the system we work in every day really functions. So, I think it’s really important to have that understanding about how to improve healthcare through both the patient and business related perspectives.
CA: Can you tell us a little bit about Strums and Strides?
NS: Strums and Strides is a combination of some of my favorite things: medicine, music, and running.
It all got started on a run during my first year of medical school. I had been feeling like I was losing my perspective. I had lost touch with music—I hadn’t played piano in months—but had buried myself in studying. I was struggling with finding a way to dig myself out of that hole. So, during my run, I had the thought, “I should do a marathon.” I’d run a marathon before, and it had helped me clear my head and focus on something. I needed that.
Then, when I started talking with my friends, they helped me see that I could use my running to raise money for something. So, I got involved with Musicians On Call. I had this idea that it would be incredible to run all across the world and learn about people from all different walks of life, their cultures, and what music and healthcare mean to them to understand more about the world.
So, that’s where it started. Now, it’s been about four years, and I’ve done marathons on five continents—I’m just waiting on Australia and North America, which will be completed this July and October.
CA: How do you balance marathon training, running a nonprofit, and pursuing dual degrees?
NS: It comes down to passion. Running is a passion of mine. Music is a passion. Being in school—learning—is a passion. And because I’m really passionate about those things, it makes them seem less like work and more like an engaging break, especially the running and Strums and Strides initiative.
In particular, running is a huge stress reliever for me. I feel like I’m able to sit down and study and be more productive when I’m working by taking time out of the day to go on a run.
CA: How do you feel that long-distance running lends itself to success in business and/or medicine?
NS: They all have persistence in common. For marathons and long-distance running, it’s working through being tired, having cramps, or dealing with knee and hip pain. In business and medical school, it’s persistence in studying, learning, being engaged, and networking.
The lessons I’ve learned from long-distance running about persistence and working through the difficult miles have helped me in both medical and business school to be able to maintain a drive. They’re all kind of marathons in their own way, so that persistence and drive from running has carried over into school.
CA: What time management recommendations would you offer fellow MBA students who feel like they can’t “do it all”?
NS: The biggest thing I’ve learned is that you can’t do it all, at least not by yourself. One thing that has helped me a lot has been support from family and friends. Whether it’s figuring out a tough concept in medicine or finance, or addressing a hundred envelopes to send out to potential donors for Strums and Strides, I physically can’t do it all. So building a good support team has been really important.
I also take advantage of small amounts of time—the ten-minute breaks in between classes or my thirty-minute lunch break. Using that time throughout the day has really helped me because it adds up to an hour or two of time that otherwise would be wasted.
Along with that, I’ve also learned to really go 100 percent either when you’re studying or taking time off. When I’m studying, I try to be fully engaged—not getting on emails or being on Facebook or talking to people. On the flip side of that, when I’m not studying and am instead hanging out with friends, I aim to be present with them rather than half-studying or thinking about the things I need to do.
This post has been republished in its entirety from its original source, metromba.com.