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Northwestern University

Alumni Connection: Nicholas Zessis '12, '16 MD, Hospitalist & Faculty Member at Feinberg

Nick is a doctor who can host students for job shadowing, review resumes, and provide ongoing mentorship.


Nicholas Zessis '12, '16 MD

Hospitalist & Faculty Member
Feinberg School of Medicine (Department of Pediatrics)

When I came to Northwestern:

I was interested in Science from the beginning, but was unclear where that would take me. I participated in translational research (basic science bench research) and enjoyed it. I also volunteered and shadowed at a local hospital. Interacting with patients and applying the Science I was learning was exciting and fulfilling. A passion for Medicine was born.

When I graduated from Northwestern, I wanted to be:

A medical student. I started medical school at Feinberg after graduating from Weinberg. I was unsure of which specialty I would pursue initially, but decided on Pediatrics. My love of comedy shaped this decision. Have you ever met a child that didn't like to laugh? I haven't. Oh, the endless supply of stickers and lollipops was a nice perk too.

I am now working as:

A faculty member at the Feinberg School of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics. My clinical research is in medical education and neurofibromatosis. I am an academic pediatric hospitalist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern Medicine's Prentice Women's Hospital, where I work on the floor (basic general pediatrics),  in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I have many teaching duties, which includes undergraduates, medical students, and resident physicians.

The pros and cons of my work are:


My job as a hospitalist is to take care of patients who are admitted to the hospital, which means I see mild disease severity on the floor all the way up to the sickest patients in the ICUs. I also get to work in education with trainees and participate in clinical research. I've always considered myself a life long learner and a career in medicine complements that well. I'm always stimulated to learn something new because Pediatrics is always evolving. And, of course, I get to work with kids!


As a hospitalist, I occasionally work night shifts. The hospital is open 24/7, after all.

My advice to students is:

Number 1:

One of my biggest regrets during my time as an undergraduate was my focus and persistence on the basic sciences. A science background is important and you'll need it to do well on boards, but that does not mean you need to major in science to be a competitive medical school applicant. Take a course load that is well rounded because that will prepare you better for being an effective physician.

Number 2:

Good grades are needed to get accepted to medical school, but your extracurricular experiences are just as important, if not more so. You need to accomplish two goals:

  1. Without experiencing patient care or the lifestyle (which includes residency and fellowship training that are time consuming, stressful, and can require relocation to different cities) of a physician, how can you be confident that it will lead to a fulfilling career? You should prove to yourself first that medicine is what should come next.
  2. You need to prove to medical schools that your life experiences have supported your contention that medicine is right for you. Physicians can change careers at a later date, but, convincing yourself and medical schools that a path to medicine is right for you and that you have a high likelhood of completing training is paramount as an undergraduate applicant.
Number 3:

You don't need to go directly from undergrad to medical school. It's a regret of mine and you shouldn't feel obligated to make the transition to medical school right away. It's best to enter when you're ready, as the training process is long and can involve making sacrifices in your personal life.

Want to connect?

Contact Cassie Petoskey, Director of the Waldron Student-Alumni Connections Program, at Include a short paragraph on your background as well as what you are hoping to get out of this connection and Cassie will touch base about next steps.
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