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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Research

Student Q&A: Margaret Schiffhauer, Physician Assistant Program

Margaret Schiffhauer

Margaret Schiffhauer is a first-year student in the Physician Assistant (PA) Program.

Where is your hometown?

I grew up in Buffalo, New York. 

What are your research interests?

Before starting PA school, I received my Master of Health Science in infectious disease epidemiology at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. There, my research focus was on HIV in the aging population.

Data are just starting to come out about the unique health challenges associated with individuals who have been on long-term antiretroviral therapy. These epidemiologic data will likely have tremendous implications for healthcare providers taking care of this population in the future.

After completing my master’s, I worked as an epidemiologist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, where my primary interest was how to best protect healthcare workers and patients from hospital- and community-acquired infections. I had (and still have) a particular interest in multidrug-resistant organisms in immunocompromised patients. Having the opportunity to work with patients in this setting is what ultimately prompted me to pursue the PA profession.

What attracted you to your program?

Northwestern’s PA program was my first choice from the start. The problem-based learning curriculum is what initially attracted me, as I have always felt that I learn best and retain the most information when working through real-life examples and situations with colleagues. After interviewing, it became apparent that the program environment was exceptionally warm, collaborative and supportive. The clinical rotation options are unparalleled, and the opportunity to pursue my education in the city of Chicago was so appealing to me. My expectations were quickly exceeded upon matriculation.

What has been your best experience at Feinberg?

Getting to know my classmates has been my best experience at Feinberg. Each of my classmates has a unique background and perspective that makes learning together so effective and rich. I feel extremely fortunate to have made so many lifelong friends, and I am constantly humbled by their intelligence and compassion.

How would you describe the faculty at Feinberg?

The faculty at Feinberg are exceptional. Everyone is clearly an expert in his or her field, which makes each lecture and discussion particularly engaging and valuable. Perhaps just as importantly, though, the faculty is approachable; I never feel hesitant to ask a question, set up a meeting, or inquire about further educational opportunities. Their passion for teaching and mentorship is apparent.

What do you do in your free time?

I love exploring Chicago with my family and friends. I have been so fortunate to make such close friends in PA school, and I spend most of my free time exploring the city’s neighborhoods and restaurants with them. I am also quite happy to relax with my corgi and my husband at home when I am not studying!

What are your plans for after graduation?

I have found so many new clinical interests through didactic year in PA school, so I am eager to explore these interests during clinical year. After graduation, I hope to have the opportunity to work within my chosen specialty in Chicago – ideally at Northwestern!