COVID-19 pandemic propels USD student closer to career in medicine

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Being locked away in COVID-19 quarantine actually pushed some students out into the big wide workforce. A University of South Dakota student found that to be true, after the pandemic shut down most of last semester. Now he’s working on the frontlines to help patients with the virus.

For some time now, Nathan Popp knew his path would lead him to a doctor’s office. The USD sophomore wants to work in emergency medicine.

“So, emergency room doctor is currently what I am going for,” Popp said.

Rewind to a few months ago, the medical biology major was set for a busy spring semester and a list of summer leadership programs to help him with his goal. But…well…you know what happened.

“That kind of all went down the drain,” Popp said.

The COVID-19 pandemic halted most things. However, that setback didn’t scrub his ambition.

“I figured, I’ve got a free summer, might as well work and get some experience,” Popp said.

Popp landed a part-time job at Avera McKennan, working in the COVID unit. It is giving him hands-on experience.

“It’s definitely eye-opening, seeing people who are affected by the pandemic,” Popp said.

The pandemic may have damaged a lot of career plans, but it actually pushed Popp closer to his future.

“I think it definitely affirmed my desire to go into the medical field, to work in a hospital to help people,” Popp said.

No matter how many plans we make, we’ve likely learned that we can’t control the numerous road blocks that can pop up. That’s what happened to Nathan Popp. However, the student shows us a very important lesson. When the obvious path is gone, just plot a new course.

“I’m working. I’m doing what makes me happy,” Popp said.

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