The final summer

July 12, 2011 —

As we come down to the last med-school-free week of our summer, my fellow DO’14s and I will soon resume our busy lives as second-year medical students. With boards awaiting us at the end of this coming year, it’s a distinct possibility that this will have been our last truly free summer before starting our busy careers. That being said, any major life goals or dream vacations that had been put on hold until this point were quickly brought into reality as our window of opportunity slid to a close. Some of my classmates took trips overseas, toured across the U.S. or pursued medical mission trips. Even I was able to enjoy an eventful summer, which included a visit with the family and a brief trip to an island resort. It also featured a chain of events that culminated in a freak moped accident that left a second-degree abrasion wound on the palm of my right hand. Part of this chain of events involved a senior citizen’s bachelorette party that passed by at the most inopportune moment (I’m not kidding; it’s a long and bizarre story). As far as I’m aware, no alcohol was involved in the accident – just very bad moped drivers. Fortunately, I’ve enjoyed a swift recovery, though it’s been a little hard to do OMM with a bandaged hand.

This music festival was just one of Des Moines' fun summer offerings.

Of course, I was certainly able to pull myself together in time to visit the 80/35 music festival that took place downtown last weekend. For those who missed it this year, definitely mark your calendars for when it comes around again. I could post a whole series of blogs on the events of those two days alone, but suffice it to say that they involved robotic fish wearing gas masks and famous rappers autographing bottles of antipsychotic medications. I leave it to your imagination, my reader, to fill in the details. For those who are feeling left out having missed the chance to lose your voice and hurt your neck at a concert (I’m sure some of you know what I’m talking about), the 515 Alive event on August 6 will simply have to do in the meantime.

Now, all these wonderful tales of excitement, adventure and mishap shouldn’t detract from how productive my summer was. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to participate in DMU’s mentored student research program, which concludes with a symposium this coming week. For my work with DMU Associate Professor Dr. Simon Geletta, we’ve been researching the timeframe of complications with diabetes, though our unfinished project will continue into the fall to serve as the capstone for my MPH degree.

Lastly, it pains me to report that this summer also saw the death of Caroline, my 1998 Pontiac Bonneville, after her brake line rusted through and burst (which I take to be the car equivalent of a ruptured aneurism). Fortunately, Des Moines is an incredibly bike-friendly city, and my apartment sits squarely between the DMU campus and a grocery store. Add to this the fact that DMU students can ride the city bus system for free, and I haven’t suffered much at her passing (aside from the emotional scarring at her unexpected demise, of course). I trust I’ll have fast-tracked through the five stages of grief and landed in the “acceptance” phase in time for the start of classes on July 20, when yet another year’s worth of the med school adventure is sure to unfold.


Nathan McConkey discovered DMU all the way from his hometown near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After graduating college as a teenager with a degree in molecular biology, he wanted to begin a master of public health degree online while working as an EMT and teaching labs at his undergraduate college. Eventually, the plan was to attend a local medical school in Pennsylvania. Little did he know, however, that his exposure to the MPH program would eventually lure him all the way out to the Midwest to pursue his medical training at Des Moines University instead. When he’s not working on his two degrees or over ten different jobs and volunteer positions on campus, he enjoys discovering new reasons why the city of Des Moines isn’t nearly as boring as his East-Coast perspective had led him to believe.

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