Student & Trainee Profiles > Former Firefighter Turned Mayo Clinic Medical Student Focuses on Family, Career

Former Firefighter Turned Mayo Clinic Medical Student Focuses on Family, Career

By Brandon Kane

Learn more about Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, the power for scholarships and inspiring by watching “Inspiring the Future Leaders of Health Care,” an inside look at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine.

The term "fourth-year medical student" feels like a misnomer for Nicolas Rubel, who is finishing his final year at the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine in Florida.

The reason? The former firefighter and paramedic has two other roles that are even more important than his burgeoning career in medicine.

Nick is a husband and father of two. He recognizes he's considered a nontraditional student, and the 36-year-old has ambitious goals for his career. "I want to be an academic, actively engaged in advancing the field," he says, with a caveat — it can't come at the expense of his family.

A Mindful Message

"One of the first things we did in medical school was write a time capsule note to be opened on Match Day. It had some advice that we could reflect on just as we are about to graduate," Nick says. "I wrote, 'Congratulations. You made it. If your wife and kids aren’t with you, it wasn’t worth it.'"

Four years later, Nick's family is firmly beside him, and the Rubels are preparing for their next adventure when Nick will be a resident specializing in emergency medicine.

Even though he is beginning his career as a physician, Nick's life experience prior to beginning his schooling, as well as his experience at the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine – Florida Campus, has him feeling well equipped for his residency.

The Journey's Start

From the beginning of interviewing for medical school, Nick knew he wanted to go to Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine.

"I was so sure I wanted to train here that I sent a letter of intent only a few days after interviewing," Nick says. 

At the same time, Nick realized that becoming a full-time student would have significant financial implications for his family — during medical school and beyond. And that’s why he’s especially grateful to have a scholarship.

"Going back to school meant leaving a good job, living on one income and asking my wife to take on 99% of what’s going on at home," Nick says. "But because of my scholarship, I don’t have to worry about whether we can put dinner on the table.

"It means my wife and children won’t struggle, and we won’t have massive debt into our 50s."

Maturity and Discipline

The scholarship also gave Mayo Clinic an excellent student and role model, says Mary Hedges, M.D., associate dean of student affairs at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine – Florida campus.

"Nick brings a maturity that is refreshing and contagious," Dr. Hedges says. "He’s incredibly disciplined — he shows up early to study before starting his clinical rotations each morning. He impresses everyone who works with him."

A Memory Worth Keeping

Mayo Clinic has impressed the Rubel family too. There's no need for another time capsule note because Nick will remember this time in his life fondly.

"I've had an extraordinary experience here," Nick says. "I’ve seen complex patients, the class sizes are great, and most importantly, my family has lived in great communities in Arizona and Florida."

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Student & Trainee Profiles
Student & Trainee Profiles
Student & Trainee Profiles