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Meet Talia Sopp

Talia SoppHometown: Fairbanks, Alaska

Undergraduate institution: University of Puget Sound

Undergraduate major: Physics

From Fairbanks, Alaska to Iowa City, a deep desire to ease the suffering of others led new medical student Talia Sopp to pursue a career in medicine. She received a degree in physics from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington and is now ready for her next adventure through the Carver College of Medicine.

Why do you want to be a physician?

I took a bit of an unusual path to medicine. My work experience spans form physics research to addiction treatment to raft guiding. I realized that what I found most fulfilling was helping people through direct, personal, caring relationships, and working to solve problems in complex systems. But, there are a variety of fields where you can do this.

One experience that pushed me towards medicine was working as a nursing assistant with people in hospice. Though it was sad when my patients passed, I found it immensely meaningful to know I’d been able to make them more comfortable in their final days. That ability to make someone more comfortable, to reduce their suffering – whether in their first days, their last days, or somewhere in between – is the reason why I’m pursuing medicine.

Why did you choose the University of Iowa?

The University of Iowa is one of only a handful of medical schools with a large academic medical center, lots of rural health opportunities, and lots of global health opportunities. Getting that range of experiences is important to me. Also, everyone here is ridiculously friendly. When I interviewed here, the thing that struck me most was the strong community feel. The environment here is very collaborative rather than competitive. And there are so many people and resources to support you in both academic/professional and personal endeavors.

What advice would you give to medical school applicants?

It’s okay if you don’t get in the first time you apply. If this is what you really want to do, stick with it. I wasn’t accepted the first time I applied to medical school, so I took a year off between application cycles, had some new adventures, and gained experience both in medicine and in other fields I was considering to make sure medicine was really for me. Quite a few of my classmates here were reapplicants, too. So, if you don’t get in, don’t give up! As hard as it is, try to see this as an opportunity to have new experiences, deepen your passions, and grow as a person.

What excites you most about medical school?

So far, I have really enjoyed the cadaver dissections. It’s such a powerful, hands-on way to learn, and a special gift from those who donated their bodies to help educate us. I’m also looking forward to exploring a broad range of specialties through clinical rotations.

What are some of your personal interests?

Rock climbing, skiing, rafting, and kayaking are my favorites. I used to be a raft guide in Montana, and I spent this past summer living out of my car and climbing around Wyoming.

What item would you bring with you to a desert island, and why?

I’d bring a snorkel and mask (we’re counting that as one item) and hope there’s sea life to look at!