When Nicholas DiGregorio started medical school a few years ago at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, he thought he might follow the paths of close friends and family members who have had careers as physicians.
But the 27-year-old Bucks County native has instead chosen to pursue work in the private sector. It’s a way to use both of the graduate degrees — an MBA from La Salle University and and his doctorate in osteopathic medicine from PCOM — that he graduated with at the same time this spring.
A few years into his medical degree, DiGregorio said he began meeting with advisors and talking to people within the college about career paths, and research kept popping up in his mind.
“There’s so many ways to practice clinically, but I couldn’t pinpoint the one I was drawn to,” he said.
He was told that a masters or MBA might help align those research career aspirations, so two years into a medical degree, he began the La Salle MBA program, too. As one might suspect, it was the most challenging time in his life, he said. To add to the challenge, his final year happened amid the pandemic — “just the icing on the cake,” he joked.
The pandemic threw a wrench into most people’s plans, but for DiGregorio, at least, it forced him to stay inside and stay focused. That, paired with a rigid time management system, meant he graduated with both degrees this month.
“My mindset was focused on ‘This is your goal at the end of the day,'” he said. “And that pushed me to be able to handle both degrees.”
When DiGregorio returned to PCOM for his fourth year, he connected with a French biotech startup called Zionexa, developers of in-vivo biomarkers used in oncology with the goal of improving a patients’ treatment, pathway and quality of life. After eight works of research rotation, DiGregorio realized he wanted to use his dual degree in the startup world.
He hadn’t known anyone else completing a medical degree to follow this path, and friends from the program were surprised, he said — he’d loved seeing patients.
“My goal as a doctor was always a kind of vague, ‘I want to help people,’ but I realized this was just a different way to help patients,” DiGregorio said. “I’m still making a major impact, and people in my life came to realize that.”
DiGregorio’s hoping his recent consultant work for the company will go full time, and says he’s figured out how the business and medicine sides of his training play out in this clinical setting. His medical training gives him the ability to understand the language needed to explain and craft messaging around new therapies, while communicating with doctors using them, and his MBA will help with the startup logistics that “can’t be ignored,” he said.
After working in the startup space for the last few months, DiGregorio said he’s excited to take the last four years of learning and apply it. It’s an environment he can see himself doing a lot of growth in.
“It’s an amazing feeling, and I was told it would be,” DiGregorio said, “to be part of a team that brings a product or therapy to market, and to see the direct patient benefits.”
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