Anna Zukowski

“The sense of community and involvement of everyone here is incredible. It’s so focused on giving opportunities to the people of this state and advancing access to care.”

Anna Zukowski is only a few weeks away from achieving the significant milestone of receiving her white coat as a medical student, and the symbol not only marks a transition in her career, but also highlights the supportive environment that she found at West Virginia University’s School of Medicine.

Zukowski has had her share of experiences that brought her to this point. After graduating from her undergraduate program, she took a break and immersed herself in the world of emergency medicine, working as an emergency medical technician in Florida.

She found her passion for a dynamic work environment, quick decision-making and the fulfilling challenge of caring for patients in critical condition during this time.

She also focused on community-based work through a year working in a ski park in Utah. Both of these experiences laid the foundation for her unique perspective and passion for community service.

When she arrived in Morgantown, this passion became clear. She quickly got involved with the Milan Puskar Health Rite clinic — a free healthcare clinic in Morgantown for low-income, uninsured or underinsured West Virginia residents.

The availability of these opportunities and WVU’s emphasis on community service particularly impressed her.

“The sense of community and involvement of everyone here is incredible,” Zukowski said. “It’s so focused on giving opportunities to the people of this state and advancing access to care.”

The inclusive environment at WVU drew Zukowski in for her medical education, as she emphasized the supportive community she found within the student population. She raved about her peers’ collaborative and non-competitive attitudes, emphasizing the supportive atmosphere where classmates share resources and help each other succeed.

“It’s just like one giant friend group,” she explained. “I feel like I’ve met my friends for life.”

The faculty at WVU also played a crucial role in Zukowski’s success. She expressed gratitude for the support specifically from Norman Ferrari, M.D.; Scott Cottrell, Ed.D.; and the rest of program leadership. She particularly likes the “Dean On-Call” policy, which ensures that help is available for students at any hour.

According to Zukowski, the faculty actively engages with students, providing encouragement and creating a nurturing academic environment, which couldn’t be more important during the rigorous studying leading up to their white coats.

For Zukowski, the white coat is both a major achievement and a ticket to the next phase of her career, where she dreams of specializing in anesthesia aiming to make a meaningful impact on patients' lives. She said she’s drawn to the blend of physiology, pharmacology and hands-on work in the operating room.