P&S Class of 2016: Victoria North

Victoria North P&S Class of 2016

Victoria North, MD'16, was always interested in science growing up—her family likes to remind her of her rock-collecting days—but was dedicated to ballet.

After high school, Dr. North spent three years dancing professionally. She danced for ballet companies in North Carolina, Colorado, and New York City and performed across the United States, Europe, and Australia before she started her undergraduate degree at Columbia.

“Throughout my ballet career I became interested in how the body works, which is a common theme amongst dancers,” she says. She majored in neuroscience but didn’t feel that a research career was right for her. “Working as a ballet teacher helped me realize I am passionate about working directly with people to identify and solve problems,” she says.

Although all signs pointed toward medicine, she was still uncertain. “I had an idea that being a nontraditional student precluded me from going to medical school and residency—I thought maybe it was just too long of a road for someone who had had another career first,” she says. “But once I met other former dancers and nontraditional students in medicine, I started to think I could pursue it as well.”

This summer, Dr. North will begin her residency in ophthalmology at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Ophthalmology is one of the few specialties that allows a doctor to diagnose diseases at the first point of contact and treat patients both medically and surgically,” she says. “I was drawn to the idea of caring for a patient from start to finish in this way.”

And she has some advice for incoming students: “Make sure to spend time exploring the rest of the city! It’s easy to get wrapped up in school and forget that we are incredibly lucky to live in such a diverse, cultural city. Try to get downtown to see the ballet, explore museums, and enjoy Central Park and the High Line.”