WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Former Clay High volleyball and basketball standout Brianna Borsheim, if she was inclined to, had the perfect role model to take up cross country or track when she was a Blue Devil, but never really had the bug of distance running despite dad Ron Borsheim being a world class American marathoner in his heyday.
“Since starting medical school, I really got interested in long distance running, especially trail racing,” said Borsheim, 24. “Like the 50K, 40 milers, with the Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock one of my favorites. The trail running in North Carolina with the hills here was always very de-stressing. After every exam, I would drive up to Pilot Mountain, run up and then just take it all in.”
Borsheim’s running genetics from dad Ron surfaced late in her life, but she reiterated that her Clay High volleyball and basketball days were most enjoyable.
“I don’t know if I would have wanted to trade that to run because my dad was so good, but I did finish a 50K race which is farther than he ever competed at,” said Borsheim. “He has always just let me go and do my own thing.”
Dad Ron Borsheim is an accomplished athlete with a 1988 Olympic Trials Marathon berth with a 2:17:04 finish and a 1989 USA World University Games competitor that finished 13th in the marathon in 2:25.19.
Borsheim’s results in her new passion for running include a fourth overall finish and first female in 2018 in the Pilot Mountain Goat Three Miler in 42:16; a 37th place in finish in 7:06:36 at the 2019 Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock Ultra 50K and a 35th overall, fourth female at the Pilot Mountain Goat Seven Miler in 1:23:14.
Borsheim, after graduating Clay High in 2014, finished up her bachelor’s degree at University of South Florida in just three years (2017, Bachelor of Science/Biomedical Science) before embarking on medical school at Wake Forest University in July 2017.
“My initial major was more toward medical statistics, but I quickly realized I liked people more than numbers,” said Borsheim. “That is what pushed me toward medicine.”
One of Borsheim’s most intense moments was an assist in the transplant of a heart of a 48 year male patient.
“I had been a part of kidney and pancreas transplants and had an opportunity to assist in the heart transplant,” said Borsheim. “I got to take the heart out and then release the clamp to get the blood flowing into the new heart. It was really cool. The whole room was like holding their breath until the heart starts beating. I nearly broke the sterile field by clapping so hard.”
The heart transplant experience itself was truly monumental, said Borsheim, but more unexpected.
“Not a lot of medical students get to be a part of transplants in general,” said Borsheim. “My experiences were extraordinary. The most rewarding one was a kidney transplant for a 15 year that was not able to go to high school because of her dialysis situation. With a new kidney, she was expected to go to high school before the CoronaVirus Pandemic hit.”
Borsheim is now on her way into her fourth year of medical school at Wake Forest with the Coronavirus Pandemic having a double-edged effect.
“Most of fourth year is applying to residencies and rotating through potential hospitals you may want to work in,” said Borsheim, noting Wake Forest had kind of a Clay High feel to it. “The teachers were very friendly. The campus was small and it was so friendly like Clay was.”
On top of her studies, Borsheim recently produced, with four co-horts; one her fiance, Stanton Prep and South Florida grad John Blizzard, and now at Albany Medical College in New York, with interest in emergency medicine, a study and report dealing with the Coronavirus Pandemic. The study, titled Preparation for the United Medical Licensing Examinations in the Face of COVID-19 and published in the Medical Science Educator, centered around how the Co-Vid 19 Pandemic affected medical education.
“Our mentor, Dr. Yenya Hu, is pretty high up in medical education and suggested us to write it because of the effect on the third and fourth years of medical school,” said Borsheim. “The main effect of the virus was to shutdown the testing sites for third year studies to become fourth year students. You study for months for it and it is a very rugged test. We studied how that delay caused different levels of stress and burnout. We found strategies to aid students to reduce the stress levels.”
Borsheim thought that the study had ramifications for other education levels, including high schools.
“The Virus effected normal high school curriculums by shutting down entire states and making students use virtual classes which can be stressful on both the student and the parents in the house,” said Borsheim. “High schoolers take the ACTs and SATs, just like our medical exams to make decisions on college and future education. The delays with no idea of the return is a recipe for burnout.”
Borsheim’s main strategy is to make small goals along the way, target weaker test areas and use extra time to supplement.
“The big thing we found is to ramp down your studying to small, manageable amounts each day,” said Borsheim. “Maintaining high intensity studying for steady months leads to burnout.”
As she focuses in on her medical career, Borsheim is targeting a pediatrics path with pediatric cancer patients her major interest.
“I know I’m concentrating on pediatrics,” said Borsheim. “Pedriatrics as a sub-speciality with oncology and chemotology; cancer patients, because I’m fascinated with the transplant surgery.”
Borsheim downplayed the surgical ambition of her studies mainly because of the serenity of her trail running and ultras.
“I want to have time to do these trail runs when I’m in residency,” said Borsheim. “The Pilot Ultra was my first and I placed third in about six hours, 40 minutes. Then I was first female in 2018 at the Pilot Mountain 7-Miler with a fourth in 2019.”
“I brought some friends with me to the 2019 race and they loved it and finished first and third,” said Borsheim, with a snicker. “I will rethink who I invite next time.”
Nowadays, Borsheim is using ultra-distance trail running to ease her way to the finish of medical school at Wake Forest University.
“John and I are looking to Colorado and Utah area children’s hospitals, but I think we both like this area and may wind up right here at Wake Forest,” said Borsheim. “He’s in Albany, NY, and anytime he comes here, he meets with the people here and they seem to like him.”