Aleksandra Gmurczyk, MD
- NU alum (residency and fellowship)
- Completed transplant nephrology at the University of Oregon
Why did you chose transplant nephrology as a career?
During nephrology training at NMH, I worked with great nephrologists who, by sharing their enthusiasm, influenced me to pursue it further. It seems like most of the time in medicine we end up managing chronic illnesses that we cannot reverse. Even though certainly not a cure, a kidney transplant comes close; it often significantly improves quality of life and allows the patients to live longer and healthier lives. It’s also a relatively young and exciting area of medicine, with countless opportunities for new discoveries.
Tell us about your background
I grew up in Central Poland, in a city called Plock. After living in Athens Greece for a few years, I moved to the States (Connecticut), where I started high school and went to college and medical school at the University of Connecticut. In medical school, I was set on becoming a surgeon. I'm somewhat artistic, love to paint and sculpt, so plastic surgery really appealed to me until I decided at the last minute that medicine suited me better. I still get slightly nostalgic when walking by the OR's...
Having lived in a relatively quiet state for medical school, I decided to apply to all the major cities and Chicago was among them. I remember interviewing at the University of Chicago and at Rush and then walking into Northwestern. When I met the residents, Maija and Diane, I knew this would be my top choice. I completed internal medicine residency at Northwestern, and I can honestly say I would come here all over again! I stayed at Northwestern for my nephrology fellowship, and then decided to specialize further. I finished my second fellowship in Portland, OR, at OHSU. Even though it was a wonderful experience, I just couldn't stay away from Chicago and NMH. I now work in the division of nephrology, but also get to use my transplant knowledge taking care of post kidney transplant patients. I am also UNOS certified in transplant medicine.
I know everyone expects to hear that "pierogi" or "golabki" —both extremely popular in the US—are my favorite Polish dishes but I have to disappoint. While I do enjoy them, my favorites are actually Polish soups… especially red barszcz, and the pickle, and sorrel soups
What are your clinical interests?
I really enjoy taking care of transplant recipients and hope to acquire as many referrals for post transplant patient care as possible. I enjoy areas of general nephrology such as kidney stone management, dialysis patient care, hypertension, and glomerular diseases. After having the opportunity to work with Dr Rosa and Batlle, experts in acid- base and electrolyte physiology, I’ve come to especially enjoy this area of nephrology. Figuring out these disorders can be great fun, like fitting together pieces of a puzzle. It forces one to think in a logical and organized way.
What do you remember about your training at Northwestern?
Internal medicine residency at NMH was my favorite period of my medical training. What especially stands out in my memory is the warm, supportive, and fun atmosphere. We can be proud of recruiting smart, fun, and diverse residents who actually have lives outside of work. What most impressed me about my co- residents was their constant willingness to work very hard and help others. None of my colleagues ever refused to cover for one another, and people would always volunteer their help. I think this is quite unique to our residency program.
Another thing that I noticed right away, and which contributed to my decision to train at NMH, was our program director’s concern for her residents. I was really impressed with Diane’s willingness to listen to our concerns, and to make changes accordingly. I don’t think we could find anyone more competent for this position. And there is Maija, who has always been like a family member to each one of us, helping us get through tough times, and making sure we fill out our fellowship and license paperwork on time. I know I wouldn’t have been able to survive the process without her!