Two-Time Grad and Baseball Alum Noah Heatherly Accepted to Medical School
Two-time Piedmont University graduate and baseball alumnus Noah Heatherly is going to medical school.
Heatherly has been accepted to Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee. It’s still early in the admissions cycle, and he expects he’ll have a few options to consider before he commits to an institution.
“But next year, I’m going to medical school — it’s just a matter of where,” he said.
“When I think about getting to this point, what I know is that I got a great education at Piedmont, and because of that education, I was able to get into medical school.”
Like so many students, Heatherly came to Piedmont for the love of his sport. (Nearly 40 percent of Piedmont's undergraduate population are student-athletes. Learn more about Piedmont athletics.)
“I started playing baseball when I was 4. The game meant so much to me, and I wasn’t ready to give it up just yet,” Heatherly said.
“I could go to a big school, but I would be watching from the stands. At Piedmont, I was going to have the chance to impact the team almost immediately. I started in two-dozen games as a freshman and nearly 40 as a sophomore.”
Even better than the playing time, however, were the moments spent with teammates off the field.
“It was being on the road, in the hotels, all the fun we had off the field that meant so much to me,” Heatherly said. “I made some of my best friends at Piedmont.”
Piedmont’s baseball program piqued Heatherly’s interest, but what clinched his decision to attend was the bachelor’s degree in Exercise & Sport Science.
“I was thinking about majoring in biology because I wanted to be a physician,” Heatherly said. “But when I came to Demorest for a visit, I learned about Exercise & Sport Science. That was my speed. I had always been interested in how the body moves and heals, and it was a program that would help me get all the prerequisites I would need for medical school.”
Early on in his time at Piedmont, though he can’t recall exactly when, Heatherly mentioned to Associate Dean of Health Sciences Dr. Abbey Dondanville that he was interested in one day becoming a doctor. Four years later, as he was about to graduate with his Bachelor of Science in Exercise & Sport Science, that dream seemed out of reach.
“I didn’t have the best freshman year academically. I didn’t think my medical school application would be competitive,” Heatherly said.
“It was the fall before I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, and I was telling Dr. Dondanville I might become a baseball coach or a strength and conditioning coach. She said something like, ‘Didn’t you want to be a doctor?’”
Dondanville went on to propose that Heatherly stay at Piedmont to earn his Master of Science in Health & Human Performance, a degree that would help set him apart from other medical school applicants.
“Her questions took me back to my original goal of going to medical school. More than that, it meant a lot to talk to someone who understood the medical school process better than I did and who had faith in my ability to do it.”
Heatherly took Dondanville’s advice, graduating with his master’s degree in July 2021. With his two degrees, he was able to land a position as a medical assistant at an orthopedic practice in North Carolina, where he’s gotten hands-on experience that has further prepared him for medical school.
“My degrees from Piedmont lessened the learning curve for me, and the skills we learned in grad school — bracing, taping, casting — are things I do every day now,” Heatherly said.
Heatherly plans to become an orthopedic surgeon.
“In my position now, I’m working with patients who have chronic, acute conditions. To see them at the start of their treatment, in pain that they’ve dealt with for a long time, and then to see them in subsequent visits, when they’re able to play in the yard with their grandkids again, it’s a great feeling. We treat people’s lifestyles,” Heatherly said.
Heatherly recently visited Piedmont. While here, he stopped in to see Dondanville and Associate Professor of Health Sciences Erika McKinney and update them on his success.
“They pushed me to apply to medical school. They wrote me letters of recommendation. They encouraged me to do the Health & Human Performance program. If you take away any of those pieces, I don’t think I would have gotten into medical school,” Heatherly said.
“Piedmont fell into my lap, and I’m so glad it did.”