Larry Nichols knew he wanted to be a doctor. There were no soul-searching moments of angst his senior year of high school about what he was going to be. The real question was where he would go to college to become a doctor.
His parents were hard-working people but honestly, at the end of the month, there just wasn’t enough money for a college fund with his name on it. Larry had the grades and earned some scholarships but they still weren’t enough for him to pay for a 4-year institution beginning his freshman year.
So with admitted disappointment, he did the smart thing. He lived at home, kept his after school job and signed up for classes at Moberly Area Community College.
“To be honest, when I first thought about having to still live with my parents and work a part-time job while all of my friends went off to four-year institutions, I was a little bit disappointed. But very quickly I found out that Moberly Area Community College is truly a blessing. It allowed me to stay at home, continue to work and save money and get a great education that prepared me to go on to a four-year college,” recalled Larry.
He transferred to Truman University with multiple scholarships and went on to medical school with much less debt.
Dr. Nichols is now a board certified family practice physician at the Hannibal Clinic where he is one of the owners. His patients are loyal friends of his. One of the reasons he choose family practice medicine is because you do just that. Treat the whole family and you end up becoming part of their lives especially in a small community like Hannibal where Dr. Nichols is heavily involved in the local sports scene with his two sons. His involvement in the community and his kids’ lives is evidenced in the framed photos of them lining the walls of his exam rooms and private office. Patients get the latest update on what the boys are doing just by taking a glance around the room.
This kind of comfortable honesty and individualized experience is something Dr. Nichols said he learned from professors at MACC.
“I remember that it didn’t matter the day or time or even the place, I could see one of my MACC professors on the street in downtown Moberly and ask a question about a class, and he or she would be happy to sit down right there and help me. Several of the science teachers took me under their wing and told me what I needed to do if I wanted to be a physician. They encouraged me that even though I was a small town kid to go out there and do what they knew I could do. I figured out quickly that that’s the kind of doctor I wanted to be for my patients, accessible and interested in more than just their physical needs. It’s why family practice was a perfect fit for me,” he explained.
His advice to students thinking about college and especially pre-med is simple. MACC is a great start for your general education. You can literally start at MACC and go anywhere. It’s also a great place to get involved. He suggests that students take advantage of the opportunities that clubs and organizations offer to volunteer in the community because you must have at least 200 hours of job shadowing before medical schools will even look at your application. So it’s essential to get the grades but to also be a well-rounded person.
“I know when I first started thinking about going to community college I thought I was going to be missing out on something. And it just wasn’t true. Community college has so much to offer you. There so many organizations to get involved in and basketball games to attend. Looking back, I still believe I made the right choice,” Dr. Nichols said.