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Driven to excel: local youngster could become doctor or lawyer

Nathan Schlicher - Photo by Kelly Everett
Nathan Schlicher
— image credit: Photo by Kelly Everett

Talk about the fast track.

Nathan Schlicher, 19, recently completed law school at the UW and then took the bar exam.

He’ll find out in October, when bar exam results are released, whether or not he’s an attorney.

But hey, that’s not all.

“I start medical school in six weeks,” he said last week. “I want to practice family medicine, and with my law degree, defend fellow doctors” fighting malpractice or other legal entanglements.

He graduated Central Kitsap High at age 14. After three years of undergraduate work at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma and two years at the UW’s law school, he started his law career in 1999 as secretary, paralegal, and all-around “grunt” at a Seattle/Tacoma based law firm, Johnson, Graffe, Keay & Moniz.

Though obviously smart and driven, he comes across as just a regular guy who enjoys learning, and has lots and lots of energy.

Still, his law exam was not a pushover.

“I took it with 800 other students,” he said. “It was pretty nerve racking ... It’s a tough exam.”

By studying law, “You learn the importance of keeping accurate records as a doctor,” he said. “You may remember the patient, but if you haven’t charted him right ... you’re headed for trouble.”

He received a Presidential Scholarship of $6,000 to help him through law school in just a couple of years instead of the usual three. He still likes to work part-time at the firm and will do so while studying medicine.

He said it’ll be harder to race through medicine. The powers-that-be insist prospective doctors take their time, since lives are in the balance.

So he’s looking at two years of classroom instruction, two years clinical work, and two or three years residency at a hospital.

“A person could become a physician after a year, but you have to be (state) board certified,” he said. Certification occurs only after the full course of training. “No hospital would hire me without board certification.”

“I’ve always been interested in politics, too.” After law and medicine, who knows, maybe a run for office or work for a candidate.

Oh yeah, he’s fascinated by theology as well.

Does he see any conflicts between medicine — that is, science — and theology?

“Not really,” he said. “I figure God just put everything into one big bag, shook it up, and let it go ... that’s evolution. I take the strict fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible with a grain of salt.”

He belongs to the Tracyton United Methodist Church, which he likes because it’s more “liberal.”

Science and religion are just different ways of responding to the world. He likes religion because it “Teaches you to help your neighbor and respect your elders,” among other things.

As if all of the above wasn’t enough, he’s even on the fast track romantically, sort of. He’s been dating a “young woman” for four years, he said. She’s a little older — 23 — and just started teaching.

Schlicher is the son of Pete and Carol Schlicher of Tracyton. His father has worked at Harrison Hospital nearly 30 years, and is now vice president there. His mom is a nurse with Group Health. Two sisters, 16 and 18, are both at the UW.

The younger sister “is our summer grunt at the law firm,” he said.

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