“Medical school is really tough,” says Tom Mueller in what might be the understatement of the year. “It’s 99 credit hours in two years. I don’t know how students do it.”
His desire to encourage students might be what drew Mueller, Ph.D., to a Younkers department store tie rack not long after he’d joined the University as associate professor of biochemistry in 1992. Now associate dean of student affairs and admissions in the College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM), he wears the not-so-subtle neckwear three times during each COM class’s tenure to celebrate the times “we see medical students more smiley than usual,” he says.
“Those times are when they start, at orientation,” Mueller says. “After they’re done with the first two years and get to go out on clinical experiences, which we mark with the Rite of Passage, they’re excited about seeing real patients.”
The third time, of course, is Commencement, at which Mueller wears the tie outside of his robe during the processional.
”Dr. Mueller’s tie is much more than a silly accessory,” says Craig Schuring, D.O.’13, an internal medicine resident at the University of Iowa. “It, along with Dr. Mueller, embodies the friendly and open-door relationship stressed upon faculty and students….That tie has become associated with friendliness, laughter and smiles for thousands of medical students over the years.”