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ALBION – How does a young woman from the Upper Peninsula happen to find a career – and create a loving family – hundreds of miles from her hometown?
It may have something to do with what happened about two decades ago, when Carrie Nicholson was a student at Albion College and already on a path toward becoming a physician. That path ultimately would lead her to practicing family medicine in Albion.
Today, Nicholson is on the staff of Oaklawn Medical Group – Albion, which is based in Suite A of 302 N. Monroe St. The office may be contacted at (517) 629-2134.
While a high school senior in her hometown of Marquette, the former Carrie Buege chose to take a class in “health occupations.” At first she learned about general medicine and health terminology, and later was able to shadow physical therapists and a physician in a hospital setting.
“I always enjoyed learning about how the body works – and, of course, helping people,” she said. “That’s a pretty good combination.”
Her interests may have come naturally, for her father Larry Buege was a physician assistant and young Carrie had grown up well aware of his work at several sites, including the Marquette Branch Prison, the local general hospital – now UP Health System-Marquette – and Helen Newberry Joy Hospital & Healthcare Center in nearby Newberry.
“When I would go into a hospital, I really enjoyed the environment,” she said, adding that she first considered a career in physical therapy. Eventually, however, she discovered that “medicine suited me more.”
Her older sister, Holly, already had gone on to Albion College to study economics. Through her, Carrie found that the college offered a pre-med program, and eventually she graduated from Albion College with a bachelor of arts degree in 1999.
It was while she was studying in Albion that Carrie Buege met fellow student Mike Nicholson, a Brighton native who would become her future husband.
Carrie Nicholson went on to graduate from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor in 2003. She served a medical internship at Union Hospital in Terre Haute, Ind., in 2003-04 and completed a two-year residency program in family medicine at the University of Michigan in 2006.
Since then, Nicholson has practiced medicine with the Midland-based MidMichigan Physicians Group as well as its Harrison Clinic; the Clare-based MidMichigan Medical Center; Albion Medical Associates; and Marshall Medical Associates.
“Because of my upbringing in the Upper Peninsula, I’ve been more interested in rural medicine and smaller areas,” she said, citing the challenges that patients often face in such locations. “There’s just so much more that you have to do in such places.”
In 2013, the Nicholsons chose to return to Albion because of their affection for the community and the fact that her sister still was living there at the time.
Coming to work for Oaklawn has been a very easy choice, she said.
“Over the years, I’ve referred many people to Oaklawn,” she said. “You get to know the people there just by making use of their services. When I had things that needed to get done – and done quickly – people were always willing to work hard and provide the care that was needed.”
Carrie and Mike Nicholson have three children – Marshall, 14; Elena, 12; Elliott, 8. Mike Nicholson is a school psychologist for the Calhoun Intermediate School District.
In her spare time, she coaches students through the American Youth Soccer Organization and is particularly active in its program to incorporate special-needs children.
“I bake, and I’ve also taken up running with the Albion Run Club,” she said. “I like to promote healthy habits.” She also works with Albion’s Substance Abuse Prevention Services and community leader Harry Bonner Sr.
“It’s a really great community,” Carrie Nicholson said of her adopted town. “I’ve found it’s engaging and welcoming, with people who are caring and want to make the world a better place. It’s easy to get involved.”