Alicia Fields, DNP, FNP-C, aspired to become a doctor ever since she was a child with her Fisher Price medical kit and toy stethoscope. But when it came time to review the pre-med curriculum and start training, she was intimidated.

She followed a different health care career path, working as a nurse for several years at Daviess Community Hospital in Washington, Ind. Meanwhile, she completed certifications to become a nurse practitioner, followed by a doctorate in nursing practice at Frontier Nursing University and an endocrinology specialty certificate at Duke University.

Fields was happy working in health care, but seeing the medical students on Duke’s campus was a consistent reminder that she wasn’t pursuing her original dream. Eventually, she built the courage to begin the necessary prerequisites for medical school and take the MCAT – all while still working full-time.

The hard work was worth it. She is now an incoming medical student at the UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus.

“Once I finished my doctorate, I told myself I was done and content with my education, but I wasn’t,” Fields said. “I decided I didn’t want to have regret from never trying to achieve what I had told myself for years was impossible.”

Understanding the critical need for physicians in rural areas, particularly primary care physicians, Fields applied to the UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus. The regional site was designed to address the need for physicians in the Commonwealth by training more physicians in Kentucky, for Kentucky.

“I knew I wanted to learn in a hands-on environment with small class sizes that allowed for more personalized attention from faculty,” she said. “With Bowling Green being known as a welcoming city with a great sense of community, and with The Medical Center providing access to over 50 specialties, I felt it would be an excellent place to complete medical school.”

Fields said she is grateful for her “amazing physician colleagues” who encouraged her to follow her dream.

“I truly feel that their support and my experience as a nurse practitioner gave me the confidence to pursue a medical education,” she said.

In her high school graduation speech, Fields remembers telling her classmates that when it comes to a successful career, there are multiple paths to take for any desired destination. She reflects on that speech as a nontraditional medical student, and the message is certainly true.

It's clear to Fields that, for her, there wasn’t just one path to a medical degree and a fulfilling career. Now on the path to her MD, she has discovered that “straight roads do not always make the most skillful drivers.”