Abby Gurall MD '17

Abby Gurall

Abigail Gurall has never backed down from a challenge, whether it be studying abroad in England as an undergraduate or running the Boston Marathon as she did in 2009.

"Living in London was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I didn't know anyone or how to navigate anything. It was an entirely different school system and culture," Gurall said. "Running the marathon was mind over matter more than anything. If you can mentally prepare yourself, you can do it. I never thought I could run 26 miles. Who does?"

Given her ability to rise to a challenge, Gurall's family members were not surprised when she joined the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine's inaugural class.

"My mother asked, 'Are you just really searching for hard things to do?" Gurall recalled with a smile.

Gurall, 29, is one of the oldest medical students in the Class of 2017 and among a handful that are married. The Canton, Conn. native earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Bowdoin College before spending 4 ½ years as a business and financial analyst for consulting and biotechnology firms.

Gurall worked under two former surgeons at Genzyme, a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Mass., where one of her responsibilities was drug pricing.

"We had one of the most expensive drugs on the market," she said. "It was nearly $300,000 a year to actually take this drug. One day, I realized I wanted to be on the patients' side and no longer on the financial side. In the corporate world, once they learn you're really good at something they just want to have you do that all the time. I missed learning as well as the human aspect of things."

Gurall enrolled at the University of Vermont in 2010, taking pre-med courses and volunteering at Fletcher Allen Healthcare in Burlington, Vt. She had just gotten married to her husband Caleb at the time and spent almost two years in Vermont while he was working in Boston.

"It wasn't easy," she said. "I was used to being in the corporate world and here I was suddenly with an 18-year-old chem partner. I asked myself a lot of times, 'Is this right?' but I knew, ultimately, medical school was what I wanted to do."

After fulfilling the pre-med requirements, Gurall did some consulting work for Genzyme and began applying to medical schools in 2012.  She targeted 15 schools, with Quinnipiac being the last she applied to after her husband sent her an email about the new Netter School of Medicine.

Gurall's mother, Elizabeth Daley, grew up in Hamden and both women were astonished by how much Quinnipiac had grown. Being accepted allowed Gurall to move closer to home and her husband was able to work out of New Haven. They live in Branford. Gurall hopes to specialize in women's health.

She called the inaugural class a "cohesive bunch."

"There is an understanding that we are all in this together," she added.

Gurall admits that medical schools has been very demanding, but she tries to make time for her husband, their black lab Hudson and an occasional jog. As always, she is up to the challenge.

"I just try to take it day-by-day," Gurall said. "It's a long road. Every day you have to sort of psych yourself up. Medical school is a marathon in itself."

October 2013

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