Skip to main content

Nick Ettinger

B.A. 1995

B.A. 1995

I graduated from NU in 1995 with a dual degree in mathematics and philosophy. I have very fond memories of my philosophy classes and the great books I read.  After graduation I joined the US Peace Corps. I was stationed in Botswana, Southern Africa for several years and taught high school mathematics at a rural boarding school.  After I finished teaching, I decided to attend medical school where I also discovered that I enjoyed bench research. I applied and was accepted into a joint MD/PhD training program at the University of Iowa (I'm from Iowa originally). After completing medical school and receiving a PhD focused on a tropical infectious parasite called Leishmania chagasi, I applied for a residency in Pediatrics and matched at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville, TN. I'm currently in my third year here, and am in the process of applying for a fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care.

The mathematics and philosophy degree programs meshed well. The metaphor that I used to describe it at the time, which I still think is apt, is that in both disciplines you are mentally manipulating abstract pieces, trying to make them fit in a kind of mental-jigsaw puzzle. When I made the pieces "fit" (i.e. when I completed the mathematical proof or when wrote a cogent philosophical argument or analysis) then I often had the mental sensation of jigsaw puzzle pieces turning together or rotating together, and a "result" popping out the bottom of the machine.

More practically, the philosophy degree helped me hone my writing skills and think critically about how to structure a written piece in order to make it clear and concise.