Student dreams of medical career

Published 10:24 pm Friday, June 23, 2017

A local high school student is heading to a renowned medical conference this weekend to begin pursuing her dream career in medicine.

Katelynn Kreutter, a junior at Nansemond River High School, was nominated to be a delegate at the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Lowell, MA. The honors-only program will be from held Sunday through Tuesday.

The event honors and guides the top students in the country that aspire to be physicians or medical scientists and provides resources for them to pursue these careers.

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“This is a crucial time in America when we need more doctors and medical scientists who are even better prepared for a future that is changing exponentially,” Richard Rossi, executive director of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, stated in a press release.

“Focused, bright and determined students like Katelynn Kreutter are our future, and she deserves all the mentoring and guidance we can give her.”

The 16-year-old was in disbelief when she first received a letter about the nomination shortly after last Christmas break. She took the letter to Anne Fike, her school guidance counselor.

“She was like ‘Oh yeah, this is real,’” Kreutter said.

Kreutter will hear from Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science winners, receive advice from Ivy League and top medical school deans and learn about cutting-edge medical technology during the three-day conference

The delegates will be able to watch a live surgery and ask the surgeon questions.

“All the body stuff is cool and very exciting,” Katelynn said.

Her interest in medicine came from her own experiences with medical issues.

At 9, she was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, in which her immune system targeted her liver. At age 12, she was diagnosed with Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes digestive issues with gluten.

“I have my own cabinet with my food and my own toaster,” she said. “I can’t have one crumb or bad things will happen.”

In March, she learned she had Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, which affects her thyroid gland.

“These are lifelong diseases,” said Katelynn’s mother, Christina Kreutter.

She takes daily medication for her hepatitis and sticks to a strict gluten-free diet but stays busy as a member of the National Honor Society and NRHS Beta Club and swim teams, along with competitive swimming with Old Dominion Aquatic Club.

“She doesn’t let it affect her life,” Christina said. “You would never know she’s sick.”

Katelynn wants to attend Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and study to become a pediatric gastroenterologist. Her dream is to practice at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, where she has been treated.

“I will know what’s it’s like and how the patients will feel,” she said. “I’ll be able to relate to their situations, and I’ll be able to help them.”