Career Day Highlights Oak Knoll Alums with Purpose in Health Care

Three panelists with very different journeys into the medical profession answered questions about their education and career path during Friday’s Career Day Assembly. Kathleen Conway ’15, Danielle Williams ’15, and Margaret Magovern ’15 collectively represent three important tiers of the health care profession — registered nurse, physician assistant, and medical doctor respectively.

The three were introduced by Mary Bolster ’23 and then formally asked questions by members of the Academic Council based on submissions to a Google form earlier in the week. Questions came from all grade levels and ranged from level of difficulty in certain subject areas, length of time required to get qualified, reasons for choosing their particular branch of medicine, obstacles encountered, what if anything made them squeamish, and whether they encountered any discrimination being women in their fields.

Kathleen Conway ’15 was active in sports at Oak Knoll and later in college. She attended Lafayette College and graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s in Biology. In June of 2020, she began an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the University of Pennsylvania which she completed in December of 2021. She currently works as a registered neonatal nurse at a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. She plans on continuing her education to become a neonatal nurse practitioner once she has gained more experience as an neonatal registered nurse.

Danielle Williams ’15 joined Oak Knoll in ninth grade. During her time in high school, she was a member of the Social Council, served as ninth grade peer leader coordinator and was on the fencing team. She attended the University of Michigan and majored in bio-psychology, cognition of neuroscience. Upon graduating in 2019, she worked as a medical assistant in Livingston to gain patient care experience. She joined the Rutgers University Physician Assistant Program in March of 2022. She is currently in her first year and intends to work with pediatrics when she graduates in May, 2025.

Margaret Magovern ’15 was an Oak Knoll “lifer” and served as Campus Ministry president and captain of the volleyball and swimming teams at Oak Knoll. She majored in neuroscience at Colgate University with a minor in art. After graduating in 2019, she worked for a year as a preschool teacher while applying to medical school. She entered New York Medical College in 2020, and is currently halfway through her third year. She will graduate in 2024 as a medical doctor and plans to work in pediatrics.

All three women entered the medical profession according to their individual passions and the ways in which they wanted to relate to their patients and colleagues. “I think what attracted me to becoming an MD was the leadership role you play. You ultimately are the person who has to make the final decision with regard to the treatment plan,” said Magovern. “I think the other thing is the complexity. By virtue of how long you have to train to be a doctor, and because of that, I’m going to be really highly trained in a lot of diseases.”

“I actually didn’t know what a physician’s assistant was until I did my capstone project for high school,” explained Williams. “I shadowed a doctor who told me ‘I think you would make a really great physician assistant.’ So I looked into it. As a PA, you have a lot of autonomy. You can diagnose and treat, prescribe medications, do procedures. We can educate patients all on our own but under the watch of a supervising physician. You get more time with the patient, which is really important to me.”

“I’m the person that is most commonly at the patient’s bedside,” said Conway. “I work closely with other medical professionals to come up with a care plan, but I’m sitting next to them for the entire shift. I see any changes in their status and that makes me such an integral part of the care team. Seeing how my patients are babies that don’t speak and can’t advocate for themselves, I can advocate for them and I love that aspect of my job.”

When entering the medical profession, these three Oak Knoll graduates selected their niche based on which aspects of the profession most appealed to them, what was a fit with their strengths and weaknesses, and based on how they would relate to their patients and colleagues. They did not simply choose the niche that would benefit them most financially. They are shining examples of the Oak Knoll mission to cultivate people with purpose.